Thursday, November 15, 2007

What Was Known? When Did They Know It?

An interesting story developed in the last week in Middle Tennessee involving the intersection of blogging and state and local politics there. In short, the governor and first lady of Tennessee have been promoting a major new building project on the grounds of the governor's mansion. Numerous residents of the upscale community in which those grounds are located do not view that expansion favorably. The city manager of said community has provided leadership for the opposition. Last week, A.C. Kleinheider, the political blogger for the local ABC affiliate in Nashville, broke a story based on an L.A. Times newspaper article from a decade ago reporting a criminal charge that was filed against that city manager in California a quarter of a century ago.

In comments to that post, Bill Hobbs, a prominent local blogger who recently began working for the state Republican Party, asked Mr. Kleinheider to reveal who gave him the story. Some left wing bloggers in the Nashville area are offended that Mr. Hobbs is permitted the pleasure of breathing, much less commenting on blogs, and they quickly responded with unsolicited support of Mr. Kleinheider at the level of sophistication one might expect from a high school cheerleader -- to be. Of course, there are legitimate reasons for Mr. Kleinheider to decline to discuss that issue, but the story does raise some legitimate questions:

1. Did the governor's office, or that of his wife, use a local political blogger to plant a story sliming an opponent.
2. If so, was the story offered to more traditional media outlets first, or was Mr. Kleinheider the first choice? If to traditional media, why did they refuse to run it? If he was the first choice, why?

While on one level Mr. Kleinheider is to be congratulated for breaking this story first, I must say that I dislike the kind of politics I suspect made it possible. Seeking to embarrass and perhaps silence a local official with a 25 year old story strikes me as below the belt.

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