July 08, 2004
They Issued Me Credentials Before They Didn't
Posted by Bill
Here's a look inside the blogger credentialing process for the Democratic National Convention:
Date: 6/7/2004 18:37:43 -0400
Thank you for your application to the DNCC Press Gallery. We are
Thank you again for your interest.
Michael Hurlbut and Francesca Gage
I responded with an e-mail asking them for specifics about what "additional information" they were interested in, but received no response. I assumed that this might be a brush-off.
This letter is a formal notice that your organization has been allocated press credentials for the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, july 26-29, 2004.
Credentials for this event are not mailed. In order to claim your credentials, a representative from your organization must present THIS letter (no photocopies) at the DNCC Press gallery office. At that time, the representative should be prepared to present identification and proof of affiliation with your organization.
You have been designated as the contact person for your organization and this is the only notification that will be sent.
(Followed by details on where and how to pick up credentials at the convention)
I was a bit shocked that they invited me, since I had the impression that only the party faithful were welcome, and I certainly never misrepresented the rightward leanings or humorous nature of my site during the application process. After joking about it and weighing the exorbidant expense of last minute travel arrangements to a city hosting a National Convention, I decided to book a flight and hotel.
Date: 7/7/2004 17:44:09 -0400
Last week you were sent a credential allocation letter not properly
Upon further review of the overall site capacity at the FleetCenter, we
Again, we thank you for your interest in covering the 2004 Democratic
Francesca Gage and Michael Hurlbut
Site capacity? Sounds disingenuous to me. I received the acceptance letter on Tuesday, followed by the rejection e-mail on Wednesday. Furthermore, the rejection e-mail tells me that my credentials were "not properly authorized." What's strange about this lack of "proper" authorization is the fact that the acceptance letter was signed by Francesca Gage, the same person who is a co-signator to the rejection letter.
If my guess is correct, an after-action review of the content of my site (for an example, see post directly before this one) caused them to disinvite me after they invited me, after I made travel arrangements that carry a significant cancellation fee. If my suspicions about content rejection are incorrect, then their planning is simply clumsy and merciless towards independent journalists that don't have expense accounts.
I've responded with a rather caustic e-mail that implores them to reinstate my credentials and avoid public loss of goodwill; the very goodwill that the blogger credentialling program was intended to create.
Let's see what they do.
UPDATE: It looks like John Tabin, another rightward blogger, was treated in similar fashion. BTW, I was issued "Hall" credentials as well.
(Credit to Wizbang for Tabin's story)
UPDATE: The DNCC criteria for inclusion:
Convention officials said they are considering three criteria: the size of the blogger's audience, the "professionalism" of the site and the amount of original material it includes.
(According to a recent WaPo article)
INDC might have qualified with audience size (1500-2000/day), and certainly with original material, but I guess the random, silly Kerry gags were out of line. This wouldn't bother me so much if they wouldn't have issued me the credentials in the first place.
ANOTHER UPDATE: John has an update, with info straight from the DNCC:
The line from the DNCC Press Gallery (I just got off the phone with them) is that this was a mistake, they're really sorry, they were overwhelmed with applications, and there was not (they're emphatic about this) an ideological litmus test.
UPDATE: The latest news can be found here.
Posted by Bill at July 8, 2004 08:11 AM | TrackBack (33)
I know you're not looking to cause a stir but here's what I would do (for what it's worth):
Show up with the original letter signed by Francesca Gage and state that you're officially allowed into the 'Hall' area of the Fleet Center.
If they don't let you in just say that you're going to go on Fox News and any other network/local station and state your case to be allowed in.
Posted by: El Jefe at July 8, 2004 09:17 AM
My heart tells my El Jefe's idea is dead on, rub it right in their actual faces (with the FOX camera crew in tow--screw the threat at that point), but my head tells me the whole business of heading up there would be a waste of time and money.
Instead, fire off another e-mail saying you're gonna do the "rat 'em out to the media" thing if they don't immediately issue a check to cover your losses, and 'bcc:' it to some FOX firebreather like O'Reilly or Hannity.
Could end up a "Win/Win" gambit: You recover the dough, and they get a spanking.
Posted by: TC-LeatherPenguin at July 8, 2004 10:25 AM
I already fired off that e-mail last night. No response.
Posted by: Bill from INDC Journal at July 8, 2004 10:29 AM
Interesting situation. I'm sure you will keep us appraised.
Posted by: King of Fools at July 8, 2004 10:56 AM
If you've already got the tickets, I say use 'em. Consider it a sunk cost. Jet into Boston, set up your laptop and start doing your thing. In fact, why don't you contact some of the other bloggers who got disinvited and call in Fox News, CNN, and anybody else? It couldn't hurt for you guys to shoot an e-mail to Howard Kurtz and the Post reporter who covered the original issuance of blog credentials.
Posted by: pennywit at July 8, 2004 12:03 PM
Already on it, PW. Not sure about attending without access, tho.
Posted by: Bill from INDC Journal at July 8, 2004 12:18 PM
I'd cancel the trip and bill the DNC for the fee. Maybe throw in a word or two about detrimental reliance, just enough to get their lawyers' attention.
Posted by: Xrlq at July 8, 2004 12:27 PM
Ah ... "detrimental reliance." I was discussing that with a lawyer friend last night.
I can find no preemptive terms and conditions in the application process that invalidate the use of that test.
Posted by: Bill from INDC Journal at July 8, 2004 12:29 PM
Call the ACLU!
Posted by: Jane at July 8, 2004 12:33 PM
Nah, not a FOS issue. It's just unprofessional and cruel to stick it to the little guy.
Posted by: Bill from INDC Journal at July 8, 2004 12:34 PM
Bill, you don't need access! A lot of the news is going to be outside the convention proper. I can think of a few things off the top of my head:
1) How far away is the so-called "free-speech zone?" Who's living in it? Why is it there?
2) Local, local, local. What do the Boston natives think of having this thing in their home town? Do they like it? Dislike it? How's the commute?
3) How's the help? Spend a day with one of the janitorial types -- chambermaids, etc. What kind of mess do parting Democrats leave behind in their rooms? Are liberals good tippers?
4) Access, access, access. How many parties can you crash while you're there? How long before your cover is blown at the D.C. Democrats for Kerry party?
5) Holding my interest: At the same time that Democrats are there, you can bet that a number of liberal and/or conservative groups will hold their own
You could still make an interesting go of it. You just have to get creative.
Posted by: pennywit at July 8, 2004 12:44 PM
That's no reason not to pester the ACLU, if only for kicks. After all, they take a lot of wacky cases that have nothing to do with freedom of speech or any other "civil liberties" in any meaningful sense. They won't take yours, of course, but I wouldn't put it past them to take up a case just like it if the shoe were on the other foot (e.g., the Daily Kotze got the same treatment from the GOP).
Posted by: Xrlq at July 8, 2004 12:47 PM
I don't have that much time/energy, and there is a good chance I'll come up empty. Big diff between fringe reporting and having direct access to celebrity politicians and conventioneers. Most of that stuff I can do in DC, if I just start stalkin the right locales.
Posted by: Bill from INDC Journal at July 8, 2004 12:51 PM
You've got the original letter, Bill - pull a Kennedy, ignore the second one. Show up with it in hand (and a Fox news crew in tow).
Sounds like the makings of a classic to tell the grandkids some day!
Posted by: Wind Rider at July 8, 2004 12:55 PM
Just offering suggestions if the Democrats won't let you in.
Posted by: pennywit at July 8, 2004 12:59 PM
Get in touch with Howie Carr, a writer for the Boston Herald and host of an afternoon radio show on WRKO in Boston from 3pm to 6 or so... he has a website HowieCarr.org I think. He would love to know that you were invited and then not invited.. who knows maybe he'd pull some strings...worth a try.
Posted by: gemma at July 8, 2004 01:19 PM
Have you considered the possibility that sloppy (or illiterate) vetters at the DNC might have seen "indcjournal.com" and imagined you were with Indymedia? Or maybe thought they were reading "iDNCjournal.com"? Of course, once someone discovered the mistake, the decision had to be reversed....
Posted by: Eric Scheie at July 8, 2004 01:37 PM
Dang, if I ever have a convention and invite any of you people, I sure won't renege and "disinvite" you - I think we need to coin a phrase along the lines of "Hell hath no fury like a blogger scorned"! Go get 'em, Bill - these folks have given a boatload of good ideas. It's not revenge or retribution, really, it's more like letting some boneheads know what a hornet's nest they've just run into.
Posted by: Bob at July 8, 2004 02:18 PM
Well so far, limited response from the media ... and even many bloggers.
Posted by: Bill from INDC Journal at July 8, 2004 02:19 PM
Absodamnlutely, Bill - show up at the door with signed letter in hand and a FOX camera crew in tow. Make a lot of noise if they won't let you in, maybe start wailing about a "fictitious" credentialing system, or how they're engaging in "class warfare" by locking out the little guy in favor of the "entrenched do-nothing press" or some shit like that.
Posted by: mojo at July 8, 2004 04:20 PM
I realize everyone where is yelling in their best "Animal House" voice "ROAD TRIP." In case you do go, just claim the all the cancelation mails & e-mails were lost when a wall of water from "The Day After Tommorrow" overran your site for a couple of hours.
Posted by: J_Crater at July 8, 2004 04:54 PM
Howie Carr @ WRKO in Boston
You may not have heard of him Bill, but gemma is right on... at least shoot him an email... a very entertaining conservative voice there in New England.
Posted by: Iraqi Intelligence at July 8, 2004 09:43 PM
Why don't you get Evan Coyne Maloney on the phone, or some other amateur filmmaker? This sounds like a great setup for "McAulliffe and Me"
Posted by: Chadster at July 9, 2004 05:40 AM
I can't believe that a Yankee fan (The Penguin) actually agrees with me.
If you haven't gotten a response from your e-mail you could always pull a 'Patton' stating that it (the e-mail rescinding invitation) got garbled in transmission.
And yes, Howie Carr would more than likely back you up on this one. Same with Hannity, O'Reilly, Rush, etc, etc.
Posted by: El Jefe at July 9, 2004 08:10 AM
A. You all make the assumption that these big guys will back me. I haven't heard much of anything back from any media folks that I've contacted.
B. Even certain quarters of the blogosphere have been surprisingly quiet thus far on the issue.
Posted by: Bill from INDC Journal at July 9, 2004 09:55 AM
Believe me, you won't be missing much by not coming to the People's Republic of Boston that week. Those of us who are local are trying our best not to be in Boston during the DNC.
You were mentioned on the Globe's website: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2004/07/09/democrats_approve_blogger_credentials_but_rescind_some_invites/
The news is starting to spread.
Posted by: garym at July 9, 2004 06:03 PM
22 trackbacks and you think things are quiet? This from the guy who a few months ago was telling me, "I just want a little site that maybe my family and a few friends will look at..." ;-)
Posted by: Dean Esmay at July 10, 2004 04:55 AM
Basing the quiet on traffic Dean, traffic. It's only slightly up from my normal flow. Big Media is biting a bit though, so sit tight.
Posted by: Bill from INDC at July 10, 2004 09:53 AM
So you may get what you aimed for. Making a big deal outta peanuts. Congrats
Posted by: Ben at July 13, 2004 11:52 AM