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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Coburn-Obama Inside Story Told at Heritage Panel

"This is a big deal," said Tim Chapman, blogger and Director of The Heritage Foundation's Center for Media and Public Policy, in hosting a panel earlier today at the Washington think tank that focused on how a bipartisan coalition of bloggers won passage of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act.

"This is a big deal for the Blogosphere. The Blogosphere in the past has had victories in a lot of high profile confrontations, but they've never enacted a law. And they've never coalesced around an issue like this with leftie bloggers and rightie bloggers," Chapman added.

The whole story has yet to be written on the role played by bloggers in this campaign but the panel at Heritage today marked a milestone in the public discussion of those events. You can view the entire panel here on the Heritage web site.

Panelists included Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation, N.Z. Bear of Porkbusters. org, Rebecca Carr of Cox Newspapers Washington Bureau, Justin Rood of TPM Muckrakers and yours truly.

Every person on the panel - well, at least the other four - had lots of insightful and useful comments, but pay particular attention to Carr's initial remarks, beginning at the 9:27 mark. Here's one of her most interesting statements:

"As a traditional print journalist, I have to say I was amazed at the power of the bloggers. I couldn‘t get over how effective they were at holding this government accountable. And what you see oftentimes in Washington is this caste system. And if it’s not in The New York Times or The Washington Post, it doesn’t matter.

"But suddenly I was seeing that it didn’t matter that I wasn’t in the Times or the Post, my stories were being posted on their [Porkbusters.org and TPM Muckrakers] web sites or being mentioned on their web sites and they were actually carrying the ball further. I think in tandem we exposed a questionable practice of holding up legislation at the 11th hour for reasons I still don’t know. "

This is the definitive discussion by some of the major players on the role of bloggers in gaining passage of the measure co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, and Barack Obama, D-IL, which requires the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to create a Google-like Internet database of most federal spending.