Power politics “Off the Bus”
June 9th, 2008

Mixed in with the mobile-phone packing political supporters and protesters who mob Presidential campaign events are a new sort from a group that includes Mayhill Fowler. She is the woman who reported Barack Obama’s remarks about “bitter” small-town Americans who “cling to guns or religion.” Fowler more recently captured on tape and set loose the audio of Bill Clinton calling the Vanity Fair author who wrote about him adjectives for which the ex-President ended up apologizing publicly.

In an in-depth Washington Post article today, “Blogging Without Warning,” Howard Kurtz explains how Mayhill Fowler came into the role she has and how she and others like her have been deployed in the name of blogging. Here is part of what Kurtz writes about how bloggers are unleashed in mobs:

[Mayhill] is one of 2,500 people, from writers to academics to accountants, working with Off the Bus, a $200,000 venture launched by the Huffington Post and New Assignment, the brainchild of New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen. The idea is to unleash ordinary folks on the presidential campaign and give them a technology-powered megaphone.

“When you’re in the bubble, you cover every story the same way,” says Arianna Hufffington, founder of the liberal Web site. “At Off the Bus, because they’re not part of the professional gaggle, they can come up with their own views of what’s happening, which may be different from what the conventional wisdom is saying.”

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