Mayhill Fowler, the Huffington Post blogger who broke the news about Barack Obama’s “bitter” comments at a San Francisco comments, says that she struggled for the better part of a week before deciding to go with the story.
Fowler also is an Obama supporter — that’s the reason she was invited to the fund-raiser in the first place — but ultimately her reportorial instincts ruled the day.
“I thought I wouldn’t put it out there, this really might damage his campaign,” she tells the New York Times, which outlines the way the story made it to the Web. “I talked it over with my husband, and like many people, he didn’t see anything wrong with the remarks. He didn’t think it was newsworthy.”
She then talked to her editor.
“Initially I resisted what she was telling me, which was that if you’re going to cover the campaign, you have to not be partial or your coverage isn’t worth as much as it could be,” she said.
There has been some debate over whether Fowler should have published the remarks at all. Some supporters have informed her that the Obama event was off the record. But according to Fowler, she was never told that. Nor did any staffer try to prevent her from recording the event, knowing full well that she was a blogger for Huff Post’s Offthebus.com.
She did know that she had something.
“I’m a religious person, and I grew up poor in a very wealthy family — sometimes we didn’t have enough to eat, but my larger family was rich,” she said. “Immediately, the remarks just really bothered me. For the first time, I realized he is an elitist.”
As I wrote yesterday, it’s ridiculous for Obama supporters to criticize Fowler for reporting the details of the event — much less try to charge that she’s subjected to some other set of rules because she’s not a mainstream journalist. Fund-raisers, for better or worse, are as much a part of the campaign as any other, fair game for anyone who can get the facts and details. Moreover, to try to delcare such an event off the record would do little to squelch word of what was said from leaking out. There are just too many people, and people with cameras and recording devices, to keep such details mum.