Edwards: Bloggers not fired even though 'personally offended'
Former Senator John Edwards (D-NC) announced today, at his blog, that two bloggers who have gotten the campaign in "hot water" would not be fired, even though he was "personally offended" by some of the things they have written in the past.
Stating that he believes everyone deserves a "fair shake," the 2008 presidential contender said that both bloggers "assured" him "that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith."
"Two bloggers hired by John Edwards to reach out to liberals in the online world have landed his presidential campaign in hot water for doing what bloggers do — expressing their opinions in provocative and often crude language," John M. Broder wrote in Wednesday's New York Times. "The Catholic League, a conservative religious group, is demanding that Mr. Edwards dismiss the two, Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog site and Melissa McEwan, who writes on her blog, Shakespeare’s Sister, for expressing anti-Catholic opinions."
On Wednesday, a report came out that the Edwards campaign had fired both bloggers.
"The right-wing blogosphere has gotten its scalps -- John Edwards has fired the two controversial bloggers he recently hired to do liberal blogger outreach, Salon has learned," Alex Koppelman and Rebecca Traister report at the online news magazine's War Room section.
The two add, "Speculation from sources that the two bloggers might be rehired was bolstered by Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, who said in an e-mail that she would 'caution [Salon] against reporting that they have been fired. We will have something to say later.'"
However, the Edwards campaign ended up standing behind the two bloggers, who had become a cause célèbre in the liberal blogosphere. One blogger, Liza Sabater from Culture Kitchen, noted in an email sent to Feministe that after compiling "all the posts about the Melissa/Amanda drama," she had realized "that these blogs collectively reach more than two million people a day."
"Just a thought for the Edwards campaign — that’s a whole lot of voters from their base to alienate," wrote Feministe's Jill.
"The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwan's posts personally offended me," Edwards writes at his blog. "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," Edwards blogged.
"But I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake," Edwards continued. "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."
Edwards added, "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."
Both bloggers, Pandagon's Marcotte and Shakespeare's Sister's McEwan, also released statements on Edwards' blog.
"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," Marcotte writes. "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."
McEwan writes, "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."
(Editor's Note: McEwan has also written articles in the past for RAW STORY)