A follow-up to my earlier post…
Mayhill Fowler, who broke the story of Barack Obama’s “bitter” comments at a San Francisco fund-raiser, is a regular contributor to Huffington Post’s “Off the Bus” pro-am citizen journalism site. She’s also an Obama supporter and donor who was invited to the event — and has taken some grief from die-hard Obama-ites for reporting what he said.
Yet as Jay Rosen points out in Huffington Post, she was just one of many donors who were at the event with digital cell phones and cameras recording his comments, and no one from the campaign tried to stop anyone.
Rosen writes, “It is important to underline that at no point has the Obama campaign publicly contested her right to report on what happened or questioned the accuracy of her account. This is to Obama’s credit. As an Obama supporter myself (I haven’t given money, or time, or an endorsement like Lessig did, and I have no contact with the campaign, but I voted for him…) I was proud to publish Fowler’s account, which is partial but truthful, even though I recognize that it touched off an ordeal for the campaign, a media storm that isn’t over and could hurt Barack Obama’s chances.”
It’s an interesting point that I missed in the earlier post: As much as campaigns try to close their fund-raisers to the press, “closed door” only means so much in a time of citizen journalism, blogs, MySpace, etc. The fact that the campaign knew that at least portions of Obama’s remarks were being recorded may refute the criticism that he will say one thing behind closed doors and another thing in public. But it took someone who has been following his campaign closely — as Fowler has — to really spot that Obama was saying something newsworthy.
Another point: The event may not have been as “elitist” as it is being made out to be, as Fowler has said that “these were not well connected people.” She met “professors, housewives, union workers — middle and upper middle class prosperous Californians who believed in Obama and even though they were not rich, gave to his campaign.”