Last night I went to a debate between Daniel Coble and Moe Baddourah sponsored by the Melrose Neighborhood Association. But I’m not going to tell you what I think about what was said there because I wasn’t there as a blogger. This is complicated by the fact that various people who saw me there, including Moe, probably think I was there as a blogger. So this is to set the record straight.
I’ll start at the beginning.
Lately, a large part of my job with ADCO has been business development. In connection with that, I went to breakfast one morning several weeks ago (Feb. 23) with my old friend Bud Ferillo, and I urged him that if he ever finds himself in a situation where he’s representing a client who needs some of the services that ADCO provides, he should give me a call.
Sometime later (I’m not exactly sure when, but my first email on the subject was on the Ides of March), he gave me a buzz and said he needed some help with the production of some last-minute mailings for the Daniel Coble campaign. Fine. I put him in contact with colleagues here at ADCO with expertise in that area, and they helped him out.
At that point, I wasn’t directly involved, beyond getting people together. (I didn’t even see the mailings until after they were done and gone.) Nevertheless, when I interviewed Moe for this post, and when I interviewed Mike Miller for this one, I mentioned what my company was doing to help out Bud on Daniel’s behalf. Neither of them expressed any concern. (I meant to tell Jenny Isgett when I interviewed her, but later realized I had forgotten. And given the reactions of the other candidates, it didn’t seem worth a separate call. I’ll let you be the judge whether I was right about that.)
Then, over the next couple of weeks, I got slightly more involved, but only in the sense of being a conduit for communications between the campaign and folks at ADCO.
Last Thursday, my status changed. On that day, Bud asked whether ADCO could shoot video at a debate Monday night, and provide YouTube clips contrasting the candidates. I checked, and our usual in-house people couldn’t do it that night. There wasn’t time for handling things the usual way. I went ahead and personally lined up a free-lancer, Brett Flashnick, who readily agreed to help out.
So I was there last night in case he had questions, and also so I could witness the whole debate, and be able to help him in editing the video. This afternoon, Brett and Bud and I spent between two and three hours going through video and choosing some clips of good YouTube length. Brett has left now and will send Bud and Daniel the finished product to see if they approve.
So basically, I’ve been heavily involved now in making editorial judgments about campaign materials. I wasn’t involved in that way at all before, but I am now.
Even before things got to this point, I was worried about what, if anything, I should write about the campaign. When I wrote about all those endorsements that Daniel got on March 29, the news was so helpful (in my opinion) to the Coble campaign that I worried that I wasn’t reporting anything of similar impact from the other campaigns, and that it could look like I was favoring him. But I couldn’t figure out how to balance things out. Neither Moe nor Jenny were generating news like that; I wasn’t seeing anything new to react to.
Now that I write that, I realize that as indirect as my involvement was before, I should have told y’all about it. The fact that it was entering my head, that I was worrying about whether I was being 100 percent fair or not, even a little bit, means I should have told y’all so you could judge for yourselves. But I didn’t. I thought about it, but I decided that I was overthinking things, and that all I would accomplish would be to make the connection sound like a bigger deal than it was. Which is a case of over-overthinking, now that I think further (over-over-overthink) about it.
Also, I thought this: The fact that Daniel was the only candidate advertising on my blog (and I assure you, the other candidates had the same opportunities to do so that he did) was a greater apparent conflict than my indirect involvement with those mailings. And y’all knew about that – you could see the ad — and were therefore forewarned and armed to make any judgments you chose to make as to whether I was being fair.
Regardless of decisions I made in the past, there’s no question now: Y’all should know that I am involved at this point. So, anything else I say about this runoff (which probably won’t be much) must be considered in light of the fact that I’ve definitely, directly, done work to help the Coble campaign. I fact, I invite you to go back and read everything else I’ve written up to now (just use the search feature to look for the candidates’ names), and decide for yourself.
Of course, this is an opinion blog. I never make any pretense to news-style “objectivity.” But what I invite you to do is see whether you think any subjective judgments I’ve made were ones I would have made anyway, without any involvement in the campaign. Actually, what I see when I look back is that I held back from expressing any strong opinions or preferences. Which means that what I wrote was affected. Because that’s not normal for me.
All of this is making my head hurt. This, of course, is why people who make their livings as reporters and editors just don’t get involved, period. Or at least, that’s the way it used to be when there were good, full-time jobs to be had in that field.
Now, increasingly, news (or at least commentary) is brought to you by people who make their livings some other way. Which is something you have long known about me.
Life is confusing here in the New Normal, and all I can figure out to do about it is to tell y’all what I’m doing. Which I just did.