Not to Be Overly Political

I’m not trying to make this a political blog, but I read something in The Washington Post yesterday that made me angry.

First the back story: My neighbor that I really like (the one who I told about BlogHer) knew that I went going to a blogging convention in Chicago and so she was excited when she saw this article in the paper.

Is that the one you went to? It says mostly white males.

No, mine was almost all women. Can I see the article?

It was the Yearly Kos Bloggers Convention. Yes, I understand that The Daily Kos is huge and I understand that it is mostly progressive political bloggers, so it make sense that the candidates would be interested in this venue, but seven of the eight Democratic presidential candidates were there.


You can’t see it in the online article, but in the paper paper there are pictures of Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barak Obama and Dennis Kuchinich speaking at the conference.

BlogHer got Elizabeth Edwards.

No offense to Mrs. Edwards, but seven of the eight Democratic candidates had no trouble showing up to Chicago the first weekend in August, but only one week earlier not one candidate (Democrat OR Republican) came to the girl blogging conference.

Again, I understand that The Daily Kos has more pull than me. I understand that it was an appropriate venue for these people. I know that there were twice as many people there. I get all of that. But what I don’t get is this – why couldn’t one of them have made the time. Hillary is a woman. Barak Obama has an office in Chicago.

I don’t know. Maybe I am just being a cry baby. Maybe I am overestimating the influence of women bloggers, but I don’t think so.

What do you think?

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  1. You can call me, 'Sir' says:

    Oh, you crazy women and your wacky emotions!


    Seriously, I’m sure it was nothing personal or gender-specifically biased on the parts of the candidates. Most were probably busy kissing babies in Idaho or shaking hands in Kansas or some other exercise in political ass-kissery. You should consider yourselves lucky…had they shown up, BlogHer would’ve just turned into another pointless sound byte on the campaign trail.

  2. How many people attended the Kos conference? Was it hugely different or about the same? I still think it sucks either way (especially given that Obama’s office is in Chicago; I can do without Hillary), but if 10,000 were at the Kos conference I could see why so many candidates would go. If it’s the same… well, I wonder how those candidates would respond to letter asking them why they didn’t attend Blogher? Think they’ll answer?

  3. Wow… Didn’t they hear us roaring in Chicago? You’d think with an election quickly approaching, reaching 850 women from all over the country and beyond would be worth the effort. Maybe we’ll be worth it next year.

  4. There were about 1500 at The Yearly Kos. It was almost double.

  5. Oh, and to be really effective, maybe all of us chicks with blogs should post that letter all over the web.

  6. I think you were better off without them. They talk forever and would seriously cut into your bar time.

  7. PunditMom wrote a great post about this — basically asking the candidates to please get a clue.

  8. Although I do think Whit has a point.

  9. Go read Pundit Mom’s post. It is far superior to mine and more timely too.

  10. I completely agree. I just read an article about Biden backing out of a bloggers convention in Chicago that the other candidates went to and I was all “Blogher? And no one mentioned Obama?” Then I saw the Yearly Kos thing and I was all “Oh Snap! They just go to the BOY convention!”

  11. ckirby50 says:

    I’m curious as to the candidates response when asked to attend BlogHer.

    And Whit does a very valid point.

  12. It wasn’t the absence of the candidates that pissed me off as much as the absence of press at BlogHer. Eight hundred women bloggers get together, supposedly this “huge” target market of decision-makers and yet who was there? Kraft? Butterball? and AOL Body?

    Sorry, I’d love to discuss this more, but I have to go stir the mac n’ cheese and then baste my turkey. Are those healthy for my children? Oh wait, I’ll go check on AOL.

  13. THIS! Makes me very angry. And I know you know why. GRRRRR!

    It’s open letter time…

  14. … am I missing something? BlogHer is about girl bloggers being safe from cooties for a weekend, networking, learning stuff, becoming better better bloggers, and drinking a hell of a lot of martinis if the con reports are accurate. BlogHer spends half a track talking about politics.

    Yearly Kos, however, is a giant liberal/progressive/democrat political blogger circlejerk that’s sponsored by…. everybody. Like the Teamsters, the NEA, the AFL-CIO, and a whole lot of other progressive stuff. and it’s twice as big as your convention.

    Why are you surprised, let alone righteously pissed off about this? I think you’re being completely irrational.

  15. You know, now that you mention it, I have heard that convention reference about ten times today on MSNBC.
    Can you imagine if BlogHer had gotten that kind of free press?!

  16. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Sarah. Although Mer does have a point — which is why I’m very curious, just for my own information, whether BlogHer actually put out a call to the candidates to attend the event or whether there were minimal invites out the door.

    As for the lack of press, that surprises me less. There are conventions of this size in Chicago all the time. The press can’t cover all of them — “A convention happened” isn’t news. However, if we’d had a candidate there, that would have drawn some press attention. It’s a brutal cycle.

  17. De in D.C. says:

    Can you fix the link to the Post article? It’s going to your earlier post, and as much as I love your writing, I already read it dangnabit! LOL.

  18. I think you have a double-edge sword here. The candidates would probably have a whole lot more incentive to come to BlogHer if they knew you guys (gals) were going to throw around some political weight their way. On the other hand, the mandate for BlogHer isn’t really political, and if it were, it would just alienate many of your members. Most people recognize BlogHer for the advertising that runs on blogs than any political leaning. I’m also assuming not everyone attending the conference HAS the same political leanings either.

    Maybe next time it would be cool to invite candidates from both parties for a debate on issues important to women.

  19. I wanted to come, but Hillary said I couldn’t.

  20. First, you say “political blog” like it is a dirty word. Does that make me dirty? Oooh baby I’m dirty. 😉

    Second, go read PunditMom’s post and letter to candidates about this.

    But warning, it’s a political blog so you might want to wear your quarantine outfit. LOL 😉

    (You know I am so kidding with you.) (Right?)

    Hey Neil? I hear what you are saying but I respectfully disagree. There are plenty of female political bloggers many of whom were at BlogHer.

    I think the real issue is money. TBH.

    Women are ignored b/c they are considered low donators.

    But that’s all I’ll say since this is Sarah’s blog and we play nice in her sandbox. :)

  21. Oh..Sarah…I got so busy I left off answering your question. Yes, I’m chapped about it, and the lack of media coverage too. it’s TOO disparate. It smacks of something foul that we don’t like to talk about, such as sexism. I have a sick feeling everyone thought “group of women = sorority house weekend with shopping, glamour and frou frou.”

    You aren’t being a crybaby and there is no overestimating the power of united women.

    Ravin’ Picture Maven

  22. Sarah, i never wanted to be political on my blog… but when I did i got noticed… In my latest adventure in serious blogging, I’ve managed to get local advertisers to put some of their advertising bucks on a couple of gay websites, overloaded the e mail server of the North Carolina State house and got a very rough and tumble Outer Banks blogging crowd to settle down and stop trashing each other and write some good stuff about the Outer Banks for a change.

    My next endeavor is going to be to address breastfeeding protections for mothers… so yes we woman blogger have some power.

  23. When I heard about it my first reaction was “But, what about us?? Don’t we count?”. But I’d like to know first, before jerking my knee too much, what Blogher did to reach out to the candidates and when, if they contacted them, did the correspondence begin.

    But if I find out that the candidates decided to go to DailyKos convention instead of Blogher just because they thought that a bunch of political bloggers, who write about politics and not much else, were more influential than the real voice of the everyday woman blogger, then I’ll be truly pissed.

  24. Here is what I know-

    I know there was “discussion” on an very casual level with blogher editors on having someone “big” like a hillary or obama or even elizabeth edwards because they didn’t want to break with the informal atmosphere of the conf. and worry about secret service running around. I remember in that discussion it was made clear most of us would like to see a BIG name, and didn’t care if that meant we had to move our backpacks for an hour so the dogs could sniff chairs in a ballroom. HOwever I have NO idea who’s people had or had not contact blogher or who blogher reached out to get.

    ALSO. 20 million women did not vote in the last election. 20 million women. They want the inside track to those 20 million? I can’t imagine the boys at kos will deliver any. In fact, most people reading those blogs are already registered voters. Many bloghers are also registered voters, but our readers go deeper than the usual suspects.

    Bottom line: the candidates are idiots.

  25. sarah, i don’t think you’re being irrational AT ALL about this. obviously, i have no insight into the goals of the blogher organizerse…but, if i were a candidate? nothing would stop me from getting in front of all of us that weekend. and, clearly, there was an outlet for it. i saw all of us enraptured by elizabeth edwards.
    and i’m not just talking about democratic candidates, either. it is worth wondering why NO actual candidates felt it worthwhile to come.
    i do understand the previous point: the daily kos has a more specific political aim…but, at the same time, blogher ’07 offered a track completely dedicated to women who blog about political things–getting out the vote, raising money and whatnot. the daily kos crowd already know, at the very least, that they’re not going to be voting conservative. it seems to me there was much more to be gained by the candidates speaking to bloghers…

    anyway, the point is…this is an issue. if you don’t mind, i’ll be linking to this over at my page.

    that article showed up in my local newspaper as well.

  26. I can totally see why all the Democratic candidates would want to go to the Daily Kos thing — it’s their crowd, and Kos has a huge amount of pull. Getting endorsed by the bloggers who attend that convention could make or break a candidacy.

    That doesn’t mean that the candidates’ (and here I mean all candidates, not just Democrats) time would not have been well spent at BlogHer. (I wonder if any of them sent staffers to attend BlogHer? I’m guessing not, or we would have heard more about it, but man, it would have been a smart research move.)

    In summary, I’m not surprised; it’s a logical decision on the part of the candidates; and I think an opportunity was missed.

  27. I think most of them talk a good game, but when it all boils down they severely underestimate the power of women, especially bloggers.

    I must say though, that I am trying my best to go next year and I will definitely be more interested in the bar time and getting to know some other cool bloggers, than time rubbing elbows with politicians.

  28. Yeah, that pissed me off. What does it say? It says that they’re idiots who clearly don’t understand that female bloggers are just as important as male ones. Hell, we network more and form more communities online. They could have reached far more voters (especially pissed off voters who feel alienated) by visiting BlogHer.

    Let’s see who wants to show up next year, just a few months before the election. Bet they’ll think of us then.

  29. GASP!! OMFG!!!
    Gosh, I wish the Elizabeth Edwards was healthy and could run for President! I met her a few months ago when she spoke to a group of bloggers in the bay area, and I was so IMPRESSED with her…

    And why oh why wasn’t HILARY at BlogHer? Of all candidates, she really should have been there…. uggh.

  30. I think it would be EXTREMELY inappropriate to only have democratic candidates at Blogher. It is unfair to assume that everyone is a democrat. I am, unabashedly so, but I understand that it would be wrong to only represent one side of the political framework of the USA.

    Additionally, Daily Kos is a POLITICAL blog. It only talks of politics and what relate to politics. They had twice the attendance of Blogher for a reason, the candidates are trying to appeal to the political bloggers. There are not a lot of purely political bloggers at Blogher. Let’s face it, most of the bloggers that attend don’t ever write about anything barely political. It’s too controversial, and it tends to be a very hard topic to write about. There are a few exceptions, and I’m on of them. So are you, and Izzy. But most of the other bloghers like to state that they don’t read newspapers or watch the news, etc.

    Furthermore, Blogher is supposed to be an international conference. Lots of Canadian bloggers come, and I don’t think they’re all that interested in American politics.

    I guess my feeling is, if you want to attend a conference with the democratic candidates, go to the Kos Conference. That’s where they’re going to be because that’s more advantageous to them than a room filled with mommy bloggers.

  31. I’ve been reading some of the other comments and the assumptions made that BlogHers don’t care about politics or that we shouldn’t want to turn “our little conference” in to a political thing. Okay fine.

    But we BlogHers DO care about politics, and is it really so hard to ask that these candidates reach out to us? To show us they care about us? I’m sick of people saying, “they’re JUST bloggers” or “they’re just dumb rich kids”. Fuck that.

    Are we supposed follow the candidates around instead? Are we supposed to beg them to take our votes, without any idea what they stand for?

    If Rudy Giuliani wants MY vote he should have gotten his ass to Chicago to talk about the issues. If Barack Obama wants MY vote, he should have been to the BlogHer conference. (Hey! Wasn’t BlogHerCon in Chicago this year? Isn’t he from Chicago? Really?)

    But what do I know? I’m just a “dumb rich kid”. Yeah, I’m rich alright. I better go find that hidden million I stashed in the mattress so I can donate it to a candidate who gives a shit about us BlogHers.

    As for Canadian BlogHers (or international BlogHers) not caring about American politics, I see that point — and I would have been more than happy to hear a politician from another country speak. It’s nice to branch out and learn about other countries and cultures, instead of being stuck in my country’s political vacuum.

  32. Why would you want politicians there crapping all over everything?

  33. I thought about this a lot last night. I read PunditMom’s post. I read the comments here and there. I went over to Daily Kos (I read it daily) and looked at their bloglines stats. They have almost 12,000 subscribed readers. They have more at googlereader. I was too lazy to check but I’d guess it’s probably a similar amount. So they have WAY more readers than blogher.

    Then I went and looked at the speakers and the comments on the KosConvention. They ONLY had professional speakers. People with lots of professional qualifications. They had a huge number of people from the press attend because of the speakers. Their conference titles weren’t about blogging, they were about world politics. They were about world issues. They were about political changes.

    So I started looking at some of the people that attended the conference. I didn’t see ONE blog with photos and links and drunken stories. Not one.

    So in my not so humble decision, it appears like you’re comparing apples to oranges. Blogher is a conference that is more social than professional. It has as it’s function blogging, not politics, not healthcare, not any one main subject. Plus, a lot of people attend Blogher and don’t hit one session. They go for the drinking, the socializing, and the swag. Which is fine, I’m not negating it. But I’m pointing out the differences between the two conventions.

    The reason, in my opinion, that Kos brings the big names is that they A) invite them B) have a national following and have been on Bill O’Reilly’s hate list for years C) are devoted to only one topic: politics and D) don’t have much of a social aspect to the conference.

    So, I have to conclude (again, my opinion) that Blogher isn’t going to get the same type of respect as long as the attendees come back and talk about the drinking, the restaurants, the hotels, and the socializing as THE biggest part of blogher. When there are hundreds of posts about what people learned and not about who people met, I think Blogher is going to be perceived as a more serious and professional conference.

    Remember, I didn’t attend any of the three conferences, but in each case I read a lot about them as well as the Kos conferences, and the difference is striking. As a blogher member, I guess I have to suggest that in order to be taken more seriously and to gain respect, can the drunken posts and the flickr photos. they just don’t appear at all professional. they’re not WRONG, they’re fine. But Blogher has to decide if they want to be a social meetup conference, or a serious professional conference. Both isn’t cutting it with the media.

  34. Just because we talk about things other than politics does NOT make our votes count any less.

    Just because we enjoy the social aspect of seeing our blogamigas once a year does not mean we don’t have professional speakers and we don’t walk away with knowledge from the sessions.

    The sessions and speakers at blogher at professional and just, if not more, qualified than at ANY conference you see bloggers put on. YearlyKos included.

    There are 13,000 plus women in the BlogHer community.

    And I think the social aspect of the conference is made purely by the attendees, not the organizers.

    I’m not sure you get any more serious or professional than BlogHer. And I can speak from experience, not just my internet reading.

  35. I’m not taking this personally, QofS, so I don’t see why you are. It’s a discussion, not a personal attack, OK? So lay off the invectives and talk, not yell.

    Now, here is a link to the many diaries and comments about YearlyKos.

    I read many of them, but not all. I’ve got a life, you know. And I’m sorry to disagree with you, but the difference TO ME between the two conferences is striking. One looks like a fun party with a few sessions about blogging. The other looks like a really serious and professional conference about changing the world, one blogger at a time. There were women at YearlyKos. Look at the photos, they’re there. Maybe it wasn’t ALL women, but there were women there and the write on Kos and speak at Kos.

    Furthermore, what your experience IS and what the PERCEPTION is are two different things. Sarah was questioning why the perception of Blogher was so minimal that there was no media coverage. It was NOT about your experience, it was about how outsiders saw the conferences and chose which to report on and which to ignore. It has, IMO, little to do with one conference being for women and one for everyone. It has to do with the PERCEPTION from outsiders, those NOT in attendance, what the two conferences were about.

    I did a pretty careful analysis based upon what was posted and reported around the net on both conferences. My conclusion, and obviously you feel insulted by it, is that Blogher LOOKS to this outsider as a social conference with a lot of partying and drinking. YK looks like a political conference with a lot of discussion on world changing events.

    My suggestion, if you don’t like this perception and you disagree with it is for EVERY blogher attendee to write more about what they learned, which appeared to be minimal, and a lot less about what they drank and what parties they attended and who they met, squeee!

    I’m not dissing blogher the organization. I’m saying that if you want to change the perception of the conference for the media, that you change the content of your posts apres blogher conventions. If you disagree, don’t change a thing. But take my words seriously…there is a misperception of the conference and as long as the coverate continues to be blogherWHEEEEE!, then you’re not going to be taken seriously.

  36. I think you see what you want to see. And you are right, I absolutely take this personally. Not only because I am a BlogHer, but I know the level of commitment and professionalism that goes into these conferences.

    There is a social aspect to blogher that is undeniable and encouraged, but you are totally missing the boat on the larger and more pronounced mission of the blogher conference and how its seen in the blogger community as a whole. I don’t know what to say other than you need to broaden your scope of reading, and I’m happy to provide links.

    I can’t think of anything that was more hyped at this year’s conference than the BlogHers Act Initiative.

    Not to mention the entire theme of the conference was “A World of Difference.”

    Let me start by leading you to all of the live blogs that came from the conference. You can find them here, along with the sessions that were covered (all of them)

    As an example of the speakers and sessions that occurred in Chicago I offer up Laurie’s live blog of the “Patriots Act: How to Turn Your Blog into a GOtV (Get Out the Vote) Machine” Maybe you think the president of NOW is a lush just there to party, but I certainly don’t.

    How about the BlogHer sessions on getting online for a cause? How we can and ARE raising money and making a difference -Try Viva La Feminista’s live blog-

    There is the BlogHer’s Election 2008 programming

    There are important discussions occurring due to and from the sessions-like the inclusion or exclusion of mommybloggers of color-

    not to mention the community of food bloggers, craft bloggers, entertainment bloggers, techies, photographers, podcasters, vloggers, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

    I take offense because you seem to be seeing only 10% of the blogher community and only for its social aspects-one I whole heartedly enjoy, by the way.

    I’m happy to report the perception you seem to think is out there, is in fact just in your own tiny corner of the blogosphere.

    As for the cadidates-they missed the boat. And I totally disagree that they did NOT come to BlogHer because its seen as a party. They didn’t come to BlogHer because once again, they forget and discount the power of women and women voters. YearlyKos was an easy hit. Logical. BlogHer would have been brilliant.

  37. I thought the BlogHer conference was perfect the way it was. I agree that many of us have political interests, but I don’t think the BlogHer conference is meant to be a political conference, and I wouldn’t want it to turn into that just so presidential candidates will come to it.

    It seems to me that there is enough interest in politics that if they wanted to, BlogHer could host a “BlogHer Political Conference”, (I would go). But the reason BlogHer and the BlogHer conference is so great, is because it doesn’t “exclude” any woman, there is something for everyone. PLEASE DON’T CHANGE THAT.

    I wouldn’t want that to change just so politicians can have another soap-box, and the media can come up with one word to describe us all (like they do for kos). Let’s face it…BlogHer is about US not THEM. Even if we had a political conference I’m not sure I would even want any of the candidates there to “speak”…we already know what they have to say, right? Let’s continue to focus on what WE WANT (thru BlogHerActs)from them, ORGANIZING AS A GROUP TO AFFECT CHANGE…Not just jump onto the first political bandwagon that comes by.

    As a group we are powerful, and we can show them (the politicians) that. We don’t need THEM, they NEED US. And, lets not let the media put us (BlogHers) into a “box”…I think staying under their radar a bit longer could be a great thing.

    That’s just what I think.

  38. You know where I stand on this one — I’m STILL riled up about it! But, you know, we’re just the little ol’ wimmins. Oh, I’m sorry, I meant the wimmins who are in the MAJORITY!!!

  39. Hollyhocksinthedesert says:

    I agree with Mer and Margalit. You cant just toss aside “Kos is a HUGE political blog” and discount that very important fact.
    As far as the panelists being professional? I read on one Blogher attendees blog that she was asked to be on a lesbian panel simply for wearing a tee shirt about vaginas. Not too swift.
    When Blogher is as big as Kos , or has a clear political viewpoint, then maybe the candidates will come. Until then, get your swag and cocktails and be happy.

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