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Edwards Keeps Bloggers

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has decided against firing two campaign bloggers who came under fire for past comments that critics said were anti-Catholic. (Read Edwards's statement and statements from the two bloggers at the end of this post.)

The controversy over Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan has been bubbling for several days and the Edwards' campaign was clearly unsure of how to handle it.

By keeping Marcotte and McEwan on staff, Edwards is sure to win plaudits among the netroots who argued that the entire controversy was brewed up by conservative commentators and the mainstream media. The liberal blogosphere is an active and growing interest group within the Democratic party and there's little doubt that Edwards would have been pilloried on the web for weeks if he had fired the two aides.

But, his decision to retain the two women also sets an interesting precedent. In essence, Edwards is saying that whatever the women wrote -- controversial or not -- before they joined his campaign late last month is largely immaterial. Is that the same standard he will hold to his non-blogging staff? If Jennifer Palmieri, Edwards' spokeswoman, had been quoted making the same comments that Marcotte and McEwan did, would she still have a job?

As we wrote yesterday, the fusion of blogging and campaign culture creates all sorts of unanswered questions and grey areas that candidates are only beginning to ponder. We'll be watching closely.



Chapel Hill, North Carolina - The statements of Senator John Edwards, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwen in reference to their work as independent bloggers before joining the Edwards campaign are below.

Senator John Edwards:

"The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwen's posts personally offended me. It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it's intended as satire, humor, or anything else. But I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake. I've talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word. We're beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can't let it be hijacked. It will take discipline, focus, and courage to build the America we believe in."

Amanda Marcotte:

"My writings on my personal blog, Pandagon on the issue of religion are generally satirical in nature and always intended strictly as a criticism of public policies and politics. My intention is never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs, and I am sorry if anyone was personally offended by writings meant only as criticisms of public politics. Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are central rights, and the sum of my personal writings is a testament to this fact."

Melissa McEwen:

"Shakespeare's Sister is my personal blog, and I certainly don't expect Senator Edwards to agree with everything I've posted. We do, however, share many views - including an unwavering support of religious freedom and a deep respect for diverse beliefs. It has never been my intention to disparage people's individual faith, and I'm sorry if my words were taken in that way."

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 8, 2007; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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