Yeah, it was just one source. I sort of wrote it as, “one source told me this,” I didn’t frame it differently but I misunderstood the impact it was going to have. I didn’t have the right level of confidence for that scale of story. But all you can do is be, like, obviously I was wrong and here’s why and here’s exactly what happened. It wasn’t—was it a mortal sin?—I hadn’t made it up. It was a real source. My editors knew who the source was. The guy had either been confused or misled. The guy talked to Edwards before the event and got the wrong impression. It was a terrible moment.
In 2007, Politico reporters on the campaign trail were like the scrappy upstarts, which was fun. I was just able, for a while, to move so much faster. I could sit at a press conference, type what a politician said in my blog, and it’d be online twenty minutes before anyone else because they had editorial processes that weren’t fast enough for the Internet. This is no longer true. This stopped being true a couple years ago. Now Twitter is so much faster, the fact that my blog takes a minute and a half to propagate means it’s ancient and no longer a place that you go for that. A lot of people went to Politico because they were so hungry for information and we were literally the first place to have it. And that’s kind of exciting for a while. But ultimately, being the guy who types fastest isn’t that rewarding or interesting. So I’m happy enough to be freed of that. There was this sort of compression of the news cycle that is now very familiar, but I think we delivered that to national politics.
Now blogs feel so ancient and creaky. I think if you have a blog and an audience you can maybe hold that space you’re in and as that audience ages just age with it. But Twitter has displaced blogs as the place where you see something new for the first time. So the blog has lost a bit of its rhythm and centrality. Now you have this new place for one-liners. I do a lot fewer blog items of the form, hey, look at this cool thing, because people are seeing that cool thing on Twitter. The blog is now a vehicle [laughs] for long, analytical stuff. And for news breaks, certainly. It’s not the place where you conduct the central political conversation which I think I did with some success in ’08.
When it’s working, there’s a useful interaction between my blog posts, my longer work, and Twitter. I use Twitter and the blog to promote longer work and to figure out what the broader themes are. I’ll sometimes plug away at the blog and realize I have five different examples that can be woven together into a longer story or see an idea knocked down or reshaped by the people who are reading. If I have an embryonic story, I can put it out there and see whether it survives the scrutiny, use both the blog and Twitter to test things out. And I’ll push blog posts or longer pieces out onto Twitter, to make sure the people who I’d like to read it are reading it.
I have this comments section, which I loathe, on my blog. This guy, Sam Graham-Felsen, a former Obama campaign blogger, recently described it as the worst comments section on the entire Internet, which I would totally go with. I’ve been asking Politico for two years to switch it off. It’s just depressing. I initially fought really hard to have comments open. Because in New York politics, commenters were informed, real people who wanted to have a conversation that was informed by actual knowledge of people and places and things. But national politics is chimerical. People have opinions totally unmoored in reality and scream at each other all day. A good comment section is a reason to refresh and see what the conversation’s doing. Mine, it’s such a sewer. It’s graffiti. But we have finally switched to a comments system that links users to their Facebook profiles, and I hope that’ll improve it.
I ♥ Pols