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Scandal Puts Focus On Role of Bloggers (WaPo on FR, NCPAC and MD4Bush)
Washington Post ^ | 02/11/05 | David Snyder and Matthew Mosk

Posted on 02/10/2005 10:41:44 PM PST by conservative in nyc

The Web site began as a sort of Internet boutique for like-minded conservatives and libertarians, suspicious of federal power and angry at President Bill Clinton.

Started in 1997 by a reclusive California conservative, saw its membership blossom with Clinton's impeachment and the election of George W. Bush. Attention to the site reached a zenith last fall, when a "freeper" -- the group's moniker for its bloggers -- first discussed flaws in documents CBS News used in a report critical of Bush's National Guard service.


One participant working under the handle MD4BUSH, whose identity is unknown, drew Steffen into a private conversation and appeared to coax him to share more details about his role in spreading the rumor. Copies of those chat room e-mails were later provided to The Washington Post.

The Oct. 18 conversation began with MD4BUSH complimenting Steffen and saying how obvious it was that the rumors about the mayor were true. Steffen, writing under the name NCPAC, replied:

"I don't look for the MO'M [O'Malley] story to hit for a little bit yet. . . . However, a lot of what everyone knows about MO'M is because of work that has occurred. It's been a wild ride."

MD4BUSH later probed further:

"Your saying that my dentist knows [about the rumors] because of work you did? Wow, I must say, I'm impressed. I mean really, everyone knows -- how did that happen?"

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Extended News; Free Republic; News/Current Events; US: Maryland
KEYWORDS: compost; ecpa; freerepublic; gannon; kristinn; md4bush; media; mediabias; msm; ncpac; odoherty; omalley; ryanodoherty
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To: Jim Robinson; Mo1; Howlin; cyncooper; MEG33
And now this from Michael Olesker of the Baltimore Sun:

How could the governor not have heard the rumors?
Originally published Feb 11, 2005

Michael Olesker

ON THE DAY Official State Dirtball Joseph Steffen admitted spreading stories to humiliate Mayor Martin O'Malley and his family, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. appeared on WBAL-TV news, where he was asked by reporter Dave Collins, "Have you known about this rumor?"

"No, absolutely not," said Ehrlich with a straight face.

Imagine the effort that must have taken. Imagine the faith in people's sheer childlike naivete to stand in front of a TV camera and say such words in an effort to distance yourself from this disgrace.


So we know now a source of many of these rumors. But the question remains: Who else took part? And who else had knowledge?

In e-mails to The Washington Post, Steffen had written: "A lot of the reason that everyone knows [O'Malley's] history is because of what has gone on beneath the surface. ... A few folks put in a lot of effort to ensure the story got some real float."

A few folks?


Who is Michael Olesker? Did he just slip up here -- BIG TIME? Or is he just wrong about MD4BUSH's identity?
241 posted on 02/11/2005 1:32:54 AM PST by conservative in nyc
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To: conservative in nyc

He could be MD4Bush for all we know right now

242 posted on 02/11/2005 1:35:30 AM PST by GeronL (--- Loading, Loading...)
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To: conservative in nyc

MD4Bush could have been several people

243 posted on 02/11/2005 1:35:50 AM PST by GeronL (--- Loading, Loading...)
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To: bad company
Two incedents in the last week. I think we can safely say that MSM has declared war on FReepers.

Unfortunately, for them, I don't think they realize what they are dealing with. If they knew FReepers at all they would know that trying to push us around and shut us up would have the opposite effect. We aren't Senators and we aren't the GOP wimpy leadership.

There are thousands of us, we aren't going anywhere, and now they've pissed us off. Bad move, old media. Really.

244 posted on 02/11/2005 1:36:02 AM PST by Dianna
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To: conservative in nyc
In e-mails to The Washington Post, Steffen had written:

Boy, that's an awful big slip, isn't it...

245 posted on 02/11/2005 1:38:21 AM PST by Dianna
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To: bad company


246 posted on 02/11/2005 1:38:26 AM PST by Cold Heat (What are fears but voices awry?Whispering harm where harm is not and deluding the unwary. Wordsworth)
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To: Rokke

Apparently, the libs were smarting from Buckhead nailing Dan Rather. They decided to go after the Pajama Brigades.

With this one they were able to hit Maryland's Republican governor AND FR at the same time. Looks very suspicious. Sour grapes from the Kerry gang and their kook supporters.

247 posted on 02/11/2005 1:44:20 AM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: Dianna; sartorius
Maybe a slip, maybe a mistake. This guy's a columnist at the Baltimore Sun, not the Washington Post itself.

There's more from Today's Baltimore Sun here (which will get its own thread in a second):

Web has changed the shape of 'reporting'
Anyone, informed or not, can publish for the world
By Abigail Tucker and Stephen Kiehl
Sun Staff
Originally published February 10, 2005
"I don't like O'Malley and I am no Dumbocrat / Caligulite. Still, methinks you should validate stuff like this before you post it."

So wrote "Sartorius" on Aug. 13, 2004. The participant in a discussion board on was responding to an explosive posting that Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley was having an extramarital affair.

It turns out that even Web posters themselves question the publishing power the Internet grants anyone with a modem.

Sartorius's skepticism proved salient: Another person posting about the topic was revealed this week to be Joseph Steffen, a longtime political operative for O'Malley's political rival, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

That story, and Steffen's resignation, broke in the mainstream media. But it highlights how Web sites - with their freewheeling rumors and rants - increasingly are forcing more traditional news institutions to write articles that otherwise wouldn't see the light of day.

Rumors of O'Malley's alleged infidelity have long circulated in Baltimore but were not printed in such daily newspapers as The Sun or The Washington Post. It took postings on the Free Republic site, based in Fresno, Calif., to bring that gossip into the local papers of public record, as part of the story of a state official's resignation for helping to spread such chatter.
248 posted on 02/11/2005 1:45:15 AM PST by conservative in nyc
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To: Mo1
So-called reporters from the Washington Post seems to be trolling websites alot lately

When they're not trolling in gay bars.

249 posted on 02/11/2005 1:48:38 AM PST by leadhead (God bless America...where our poor are richer than most of the world!)
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To: MEG33
I know this has been debated before, but I wonder if there is utility in imposing some sort of protocol that requires a period after sign-up before posting privileges are granted? It would, at least, stop the hit and run posters.
250 posted on 02/11/2005 1:51:09 AM PST by Truth29
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
Do not attempt to adjust the TV set, the controls do not work ...
251 posted on 02/11/2005 1:51:15 AM PST by John Lenin
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To: conservative in nyc

Chairman Kane Sets it Straight in Letter to Baltimore Sun

Chairman's Letter to Sun Editor Tim Franklin Pubished in Edited Form; Submitted Full Text Follows
January 21, 2005

January 14, 2005

Editor Timothy A. Franklin
The Baltimore Sun Company
501 N. Calvert Street
P.0. Box 1377
Baltimore, Maryland 21278

Re: Michael Olesker, (“In Ehrlich era, politics have plummeted into the personal,” Jan. 11)
Submitted to Opinion-Commentary Page Editor Richard C. Gross for Publication

Dear Mr. Franklin:
Michael Olesker’s take on the Maryland Republican Party’s recent ad campaign in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, and on the current political culture in Annapolis, could not be more off base. (“In Ehrlich era, politics have plummeted into the personal,” Jan. 11). In fact, it is safe to say Michael Olesker’s reporting for this column, as with many others, is blatantly biased. While he took the time to talk to Senator Ed DeGrange about the ad campaign matter, he took no time that I know of to talk to anyone Republican, most notably me or my staff — who are the only ones truly able to discuss the matter at hand. I understand Mr. Olesker runs an opinion column, but last I checked opinions are to be based on facts and fair information gathering, both of which Mr. Olesker failed to do for this column.

First, it should be made crystal clear: While the Maryland Republican Party obviously supports Governor Bob Ehrlich and his Administration, the State Republican Party and the Ehrlich-Steele Administration are not one and the same. This is NOT Bob Ehrlich’s ad campaign. It is not the Ehrlich Administration’s campaign. This is the State Republican Party’s ad campaign, led by me, State Chairman John Kane. Michael Olesker would like you to believe, as he continues to fight tooth and nail to help the Maryland Democratic Party advance their cause, that Bob Ehrlich is at the head of this effort (“THE EHRLICH administration once again takes its attack to the radio airwaves,” reads the first line of his column), but media and Democrats should not clump the Governor and this campaign together. It is not the Governor’s ad campaign to pull, discuss or ponder. Similarly, as State Bureau Chief David Nitkin will attest, the Governor’s instructions to his staff to not speak with Mr. Olesker and Mr. Nitkin do not extend to the Maryland GOP, because, again, the Maryland GOP and Bob Ehrlich’s Administration are not one and the same. Mr. Olesker could have easily called our office for this column.

What Maryland’s liberal Democratic faction, and Mr. Olesker’s unabashed support of them, is trying to do here is distract us from the facts with their shameless tactics. They are trying to keep people from realizing that liberal state Democratic leaders are bullying legislators to support a liberal tax and spend agenda made famous under Parris Glendening. I, and the Maryland Republican Party, are merely doing what any State Republican or Democratic Party in the country has done from the beginning of time – informing constituents of the political matters at hand, just as the Maryland Democratic Party has done in its own calls to action for decades. Why is it OK, without public scrutiny or question, for Democratic campaign committees to lead direct mail campaigns on specific legislative issues against our candidates in 2002, but not OK for the Maryland Republican Party to do its job as a State Party organization and lead a campaign to motivate our base for 2006?

Senator DeGrange sardonically laments in Mr. Olesker’s column: “I don’t know why they’re doing this. … They [the governor’s office] never even talked to me about my vote. … Everything they do is about campaigning. … In the six years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen an atmosphere like this.” Well, Senator DeGrange and the rest of the Maryland Democratic Party have been left unchecked for far too long, and media members like Michael Olesker have been complicit in fostering this charade long enough. The State Republican Party has, and will, continue to make the people of Maryland aware of the liberal agenda pushed in Annapolis – and given the coverage of the likes of Michael Olesker, to achieve our goals we need to pursue other media to communicate our side of the story.

John M. Kane
Maryland Republican Party

cc: Columnist Michael Olesker
Opinion-Commentary Page Editor Richard C. Gross


252 posted on 02/11/2005 1:51:23 AM PST by kcvl
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To: Dianna
Unfortunately, for them, I don't think they realize what they are dealing with

There are probably 50,000 regular FReepers. We've figured it out up to this point at 250 posts. What's the day crew got in store for them? I was following the memogate thread as it happened. I'd bet $20 this reporter is pinned down before I log on tomorrow night.

253 posted on 02/11/2005 1:52:30 AM PST by bad company (There can be no freedom without right and wrong.)
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To: John Lenin

Apparently, according to close sources, the curse of Black Aggie has cast its dark shadow upon O'Malley's absurd ambitions to lead the stem-cell slaughter party. And now he is trying to divert attention with this latest ploy. [IRONY]

The Baltimore Sun has been after Ehrlich for quite a while. This was an organized hit on the governor.

254 posted on 02/11/2005 1:53:29 AM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: conservative in nyc

1 governor fights back
Posted: December 11, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2004

The Baltimore Sun, owned by the Chicago Tribune Company, has actually sued the governor of Maryland.

In a five-page lawsuit filed in Baltimore's 1st District Court, the Sun and two of its writers, David Nitkin and Michael Olesker, have charged Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich with enacting a policy which was intended to have and has had an impermissible chilling effect on the Sun's right to free expression.

The New York Times reports that on Nov. 18, Gov. Ehrlich issued a directive forbidding anyone in the governor's office or any state agency from speaking to Nitkin, The Sun's Maryland statehouse bureau chief, and Olesker, a columnist.

"The governor's press office feels that currently both are failing to objectively report on any issue dealing with the Ehrlich-Steele administration," the directive said.

In subsequent radio appearances, Mr. Ehrlich contended that Mr. Nitkin and Mr. Olesker had "no credibility" and had fabricated quotes. He said his ban was "meant to have a chilling effect" on their reporting.

Ehrlich has issued no such directive on any other reporters from the Sun. Nor has he in any way tried to stop these two writers, Nitkin or Olesker, from writing whatever they wish.

But as Ehrlich Press Secretary Greg Massoni noted: "Nothing in the Constitution requires that we help them."

But the Sun's new editor, Timothy Franklin, noted in an editor's letter to readers:

"The governor's action sets a dangerous precedent for all citizens. No governor, Republican or Democrat, should be allowed to pick and choose whom state employees speak to based on whether the governor approves of their views.

"Left unchallenged, Gov. Ehrlich could prevent any citizen with whom he disagrees from gaining access to information from taxpayer-paid state government employees."

The absolutely astounding and towering asininity of this claim is in the fact that if any court takes it seriously, this could lead to any political leader who ever says "no comment" to either of these Sun writers being charged with violating their First Amendment rights of freedom of the press.

The New York Times also reports:

"Mr. Ehrlich has said he will not meet with the Sun until it apologizes for a 2002 editorial in which it said Mr. Ehrlich's running mate, Michael S. Steele, 'brings little to the team but the color of his skin.' Mr. Steele is black."

Where does the First Amendment, or any respected legal precedent, require any public official to cooperate with, or answer any and all questions from, representatives of a newspaper that publishes such racist nonsense – and refuses to apologize?

But the Sun lawsuit claims that the Ehrlich order not to deal with these two Baltimore Sun writers "was intended to have and has had an impermissible chilling effect on the Sun's right to free expression."

This has not at all "impermissibly chilled" editor Franklin's right to freely express his denunciation of Gov. Ehrlich in his letter to readers, in which Franklin contends:

"We want to make one point emphatically: We will oppose any public office holder who attempts to stem the flow of information about local government to the readers we serve. Indeed, we did it earlier this year when the Sun successfully sued Mayor Martin O'Malley for access to public records regarding the police department.

"An open, transparent government is the very foundation of our democracy, and it is what every citizen deserves."

Does that sound at all as if editor Franklin has been "impermissibly chilled"?

No. What it sounds like is a desperate comparison of a Democratic mayor's attempted concealment of public records to a Republican governor's quite constitutionally permissible refusal to talk to only two of the Baltimore Sun's writers that he has concluded are strongly biased and inaccurate.

Sinclair Broadcasting Group's executive Mark Hyman says:

"To my knowledge no one is prohibiting David Nitkin and Michael Olesker from writing anything – and that is what the First Amendment is all about," he said. "The elected officials just haven't all been as frank about it as the [Maryland] governor."

Ladies and gentlemen: I left a message with Sun editor Franklin's congenial secretary, and called back later to leave another message that the Sun's suing the governor came up at the White House.

She said she had talked to Mr. Franklin, and he would not be come on my radio program.

Understandably, since he's involved in a lawsuit.

But in the high unlikelihood that this lawsuit wins, I will look forward to having Mr. Franklin appear on WCBM with Mark Hyman of Sinclair Broadcasting to discuss it.

Would he so refuse to discuss it, that would surely be the "impermissible chilling" of my right as an accredited White House correspondent, WorldNetDaily columnist and Baltimore talk-radio host.

Mr. Franklin is surely a public figure. Why should he do to me what he sues the governor of Maryland for doing to two of the Sun correspondents of Franklin's choice?

Les Kinsolving hosts a daily talk show for WCBM in Baltimore.

255 posted on 02/11/2005 1:54:30 AM PST by kcvl
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To: Truth29

Where's the fun in that? Some of the most enjoyable threads are troll Stuneing beeber-fests.

256 posted on 02/11/2005 1:54:51 AM PST by Dr.Zoidberg (Children classics updated for Islam, "If you're happy and you know it, go Kaboom!")
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To: Truth29

Yes, a waiting period has been proposed ..but think of all the brilliant once in a lifetime vanities we would miss. ;)

257 posted on 02/11/2005 1:55:55 AM PST by MEG33 (GOD BLESS OUR ARMED FORCES)
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To: RabidBartender
I still think wonkette is dumb though.

Wonkette IS dumb. And here's the dirty little secret about that web site, NO ONE cares what wonkette says. Despite all of the free media wonkette gets in the MSM, Alexa traffic rates it #10,412 with a reach of 141 per million (internet users). Compare that to FR, with an Alexa rating at #1,687 and reach of 533 per million. Those are the three month averages (multiply reach per million times 580 million internet users - FR 309k: daily unique visitors, Wonkette: 81k daily unique vistors). BTW, DUmmies get 108 per million users (62k).
258 posted on 02/11/2005 1:57:01 AM PST by advance_copy
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To: kcvl; conservative in nyc
The newspaper writer is a 1960s-style washed-up liberal type who has nurtured a strange fascination with the strip club and pornography trade in town for too many years to count. The Baltimore Sun, an ultra-liberal rag, is really own good for fireplace kindling and the bottom of bird cages.
259 posted on 02/11/2005 1:57:10 AM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: MEG33
Good bye.... and I hope you get all you deserve in life.

Knowing the breadth and depth of the FR community and the latent technical abilities therein, I doubt that MD4Bush will be anonymous for long.

But then, it'll give WaPo another story.

260 posted on 02/11/2005 1:57:32 AM PST by leadhead (God bless America...the WaPo won't)
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