Like Warren Kinsella, I’ve stayed out of much of this whole story about RepublicansforIgnatieff.com. First, it was because I was enjoying the blogosphere’s reaction to the website, and then the media’s reaction to the website, and then the reaction to it by Michael Ignatieff’s war room chief.
Today I became “Kinsella-famous” (as one reader emailed to say). Warren Kinsella states that he thinks that I am behind the website that insincerely lauds Michael Ignatieff.
True, I’m no stranger to online activism and politicking; I launched Iggyfacts.ca to help define Michael Ignatieff enabling users of Twitter to retweet facts about our favourite accidental tourist. In December, I launched RallyforCanada.ca to help organize nationwide protests against the Ignatieff endorsed unelected coalition government supported by the Bloc Quebecois. Please forgive the tone here, it is just to make the point that I am more that likely to put my name on my projects.
As for RepublicansforIgnatieff.com, I’d like to thank Kinsella for the kind words; the website has caused a lot of stir and it’s deeply complimentary to for him think that I’d be the one behind it.
In Ottawa, the politics of distraction is the process story. RepublicansforIgnatieff.com is a bit of mana from heaven for political journalists who think that communion wafers, G8 photo-op flops and PM apologies are played out. RFI.com is a perfect process story to hit web browsers and newspaper readers for a period of days, if not a couple of weeks. For someone that trades in process stories, Kinsella however recognizes that this story deflects from the main storyline and only Liberal-driven process stories are beneficial to his team. So how to kill a story that isn’t?
A lesson that I’ve learned from online politics and media in this town is that official still matters. You or I could make commercial quality Youtube videos everyday until the next election, but unless they were official party efforts, they would be largely ignored because of significance of source. If Stephen Harper made a Youtube video slagging Ignatieff, it would be national news. Iggyfacts.ca is a decent enough website, but while it got some buzz in the blogosphere, it didn’t get too much play in the mainstream media. If the Conservative Party had financed it and put the “paid for by the Conservative Party of Canada” tagline on the bottom, it would get much wider attention. The significance of source is measured and assessed when a process story is written and we shouldn’t be too surprised by this.
Now to RFI.com. The source of this website is unknown. It’s a decent enough website, but is it Conservative Party, NDP, Republican, or me? The mystery around the website itself has become most of the story. By trying to tag me as the author of the website, Kinsella seeks to eliminate the mystery, and the story.
“You mean some guy made it and its not a Karl Rove or Doug Finley production? Moving on…”
Over the last couple of days, I’ve watched, with some astonishment, the efforts of Liberal partisans to investigate the website and, if not address the arguments made there, the person who made the site. Sometimes a wise communications strategy for an individual under fire is to stop talking about what’s antagonizing them. It’s a much more difficult task to integrate this strategy into the Liberal collective.
Unfortunately for Kinsella (and for me), I did not create RepublicansforIgnatieff.com. The Liberal war room chief unfortunately misattributes a quote from a Liberal partisan named “Ted” (Ted Betts) to a sometimes Conservative partisan pen-named Raphael Alexander as shaky evidence of my involvement. I denied making the site about a week ago.
So who is behind the website? I really don’t know. I have my suspicions, but for now the process story will spend another day in the sun as the Liberals keep talking about it.