Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Detracting From The Message

At first blush, the online Liberal ad campaign would seem a relative success. The goal was press coverage, mission accomplished. However, after watching a CTV piece on the ads, you have to wonder if the point is lost within the tiring Jason Cherniak debate. One commentator laughed off the ads effectiveness, referring to Cherniak as frankly a joke- no mention of content, just another swipe at the human pinata. After my MSM news fix, I go online, only to find ANOTHER raging debate about Cherniak on the National Newswatch.

Jason does an excellent job with self promotion, but I also think his motivations are mostly sincere. That said, if the goal of the new technology is to help the Liberal profile, you have to wonder if Cherniak isn't more hindrance than help. In other words, is this really the person who should be the "face" of the online community? Clearly, the media doesn't take Cherniak seriously, and don't even get me started on the online community.

If you accept this premise as fact, then the question becomes what is best for the Liberal cause? This online exercise shouldn't be about one persona and his ambition, it's supposed to be a collective of people, under the big tent, with a common purpose. This ad campaign highlights two contrasting paths. One, demonstrates the slow rise of bloggers to be part of the traditional discussion. The other, the Cherniak saga, checks any said benefit because the messenger becomes the message. Does anyone really believe that we win any converts with such a divisive "leader"? Frankly, Jason Cherniak hasn't demonstrated that he is ready to be "President" of anything. Jason is a lightning rod, who's prominence is often times embarrassing, juvenile and just plain distracting.

If the goal is defeating Harper, drawing attention to real issues and trying to exert some real influence, beyond a circus sideshow, then maybe it is time for Jason to ask himself a question. Does my high profile help or hinder the Liberal Party? If the answer distances itself from self-interest, the answer becomes more painfully obvious everyday. I thought it was about Liberals, too often it becomes the never ending soap opera. I await the next act, because as sure as the sunrise, there will be one, and credibility is the victim. Two cents.


UWHabs said...

Cherniak may not be the best face of the online community, but the fact that the video ploy got MSM coverage shows that they're not ignoring bloggers.

And for the most part, it's more about the message than the people. Your average person doesn't know who Cherniak or Scott Tribe or any of the bloggers, Liberal or Conservative. I don't think having Jason as the lead voice will be detrimental to us (however I do think we need to have others, not just Cherniak, make some appearances)

audacious said...

very good commentary!

Steve V said...

"Cherniak may not be the best face of the online community"

" I don't think having Jason as the lead voice will be detrimental to us"

Reconcile those two statements.

Sheeple said...

I nominate BCer as the face of the online liberal community.

UWHabs said...

Basically, Cherniak's not the best face that we could put out to pimp our bloggers, but I don't think he's a net negative. I don't think he'll bring us down by being the unofficial spokesperson, but then again, I do think we need to try to get others to get media spots and quotes to make sure it's not just Jason doing all the talking.

janfromthebruce said...

Just wait till they start looking at some of Jason's posts and comments made. He is a soap opera.

Steve V said...

"but I don't think he's a net negative."

Anything less than a net positive is failure, given the opportunity.

Scotian said...

I think Jason Cherniak (to be referred to as JC for the remainder of this comment) is an honest Liberal party believer and partisan. I used to read his blog fairly regularly when he was still a student at Dalhousie University. Over the last coupe of years I have tended to read his blog less and less often, and these days only when something blows up and I need to take a look at the source material. I also am more than a little concerned with his dual loyalties online. I do not think it is healthy for the voice of a party's blogging community to be someone that to take on issues and crusades beyond the party interests and I find his anti-Semite crusades that he has done a few times over the time I've known of him more than a little worrisome. That is a dangerous vulnerability, especially in a country as diverse as this one.

Don't get me wrong btw about JC, I do believe he is sincere and believes what he does honestly, I just think he is on some things mistaken and also tends to have a bit too much zeal in his nature/approach. I think he could make a great political operative, but the public face of a party operation like the Libblogs, especially for election purposes, no I don't think he is well suited for it and it would not well serve the Liberals overall. Remember, to get the good earned media it helps to be seen as serious/credible, and JC does appear to have a done some damage in that respect from what I watched on Duffy this evening. There is also the fact that JC can be a bit polarizing for some and that also makes him a less than ideal choice for that position.

Personally, I do not have an axe to grind in this one, while I may have my own concerns regarding JC they are not in relation to his relationship with the Liberal party. So my thoughts on this are not driven by anything other than simply how it looks to me. I think JC needs more seasoning before taking on that kind of role, although I could see him as a good XO to someone better suited to the job at this point in his development. JC is a committed Liberal, there is no question of that in my mind, but he is a touch too prone to the zealotry side of partisanship, which is a risk with all types of partisanship. While he is nowhere near as bad as several BTs that come to mind in this respect it is still enough that it makes me a bit uncomfortable, and it appears from what I have seen to bother some others in the progressive and Liberal sympathetic (to a degree) blogger community.

So I think Steve V is correct in his thinking here over all. I think JC may well believe he is doing the right thing and is more interested in helping the Libs than in self gain in some respect, but it is not how it is coming off to others. I think he is potentially a significant weak point for the Liberals already given what is already out there, his similarities and fondness for Warren Kinsella also raises some attack points against him, so as a spokesperson, even an unofficial on for the Libbloggers seems a bad idea. Even if one thinks Steve V is being harsh in his assessments of JC in all of this, it does not change the other problems of lighting rod and polarizing figure he tends to be in the political blogosphere. Love/like him or hate/dislike him there do not seem to be many people who are indifferent where he is concerned. He evokes strong emotions, and when well channeled/controlled that is a valuable political tool, when not properly channeled/controlled (which alas currently describes JC IMHO) it tends to do damage to those whose service it is in. That alone makes him a very questionable choice, especially for a rebuilding party like the Liberals are these days.

I think he is a nice enough person from what I have seen of him, but being nice is not a qualification for positions of responsibility. This is my assessment of JC performing as the de facto Liberal bloggers spokesperson, especially during the intensity of an election.

Steve V said...

"Remember, to get the good earned media it helps to be seen as serious/credible, and JC does appear to have a done some damage in that respect from what I watched on Duffy this evening. There is also the fact that JC can be a bit polarizing for some and that also makes him a less than ideal choice for that position."

Thanks for the comments Scotian. I don't mean to be harsh, but I'm just thinking big picture here and it's my opinion that the situation is a liability. I don't question Jason's honesty or sincerity, and my criticisms are not personal AT ALL. Bottomline, it's about putting your best foot forward, which to my mind means no overt leader, especially when it seems to sow division and smirks from the MSM.

Gayle said...

I just see him as being young, and somewhat naive in his zeal.

I have a soft spot for him - perhaps because he reminds me of me at that young age, before I toned it down:).

That said, I agree with both you and Scotian on this.

Scott Tribe said...


I'm a fairly shy quiet person .. I'd get embarrassed if everyone knew who I was - I couldnt handle fame ;)

Sheeple said...

No one else likes BCer?

Scott Tribe said...

Sheesh.. I didnt realize the head of Liblogs.. (or any blogging community) needed to look like a model.

Considering half of the MSM thinks we all wear Pyjamas while we blog in front of our computers and play D & D on the side (they apparently forgot online gaming exists now too), I'd say any public face put to bloggers and blogging is a welcome improvement. I dont care what they look like.. I care what they type.

Gayle said...

At the risk of sounding like a suck up, I would pick Steve - for what it is worth - though BC'er and Scott would be equally good.

Antonio said...

wow no comment!

Scotian said...

Steve V:

I could tell you were not trying to be personal in this post of yours, which is why I offered the comments that I did in the form it was done. Much of the problem right now with JC is his youth and his occasional excessive zeal combined with having something of a polarizing nature for many within the progressive political blogosphere including some Libblogers from what I’ve seen. As I believe I have mentioned in the past I tend to read far more materials/issues than I ever comment on, and that despite the lengths my comments tend to run, on a word intake to word output in my blogging we are looking at at least a minimum of 40 times to on a heavy good day 80-100+ times words read to written. I was always something of an information junkie long before there was any such thing as the web or even home computers (I remember the TRS-80 as top of the line in my teens for example), the library was one of my favourite places growing up and not the fiction sections either. I used to haunt the reference floor to the surprise of many of the others there when I was 9 years old...:)

Indeed, it is because my habits were formed there that I tend to be a bit old fashioned in the way I do my quoting for example. You have likely noticed I always include the author and date/time along with the context/full sentence(s) to paragraph(s) it was said in when I challenge it, yes? One of the things I find hard to deal with are those that simply paraphrase what someone is saying or worse doing so yet claiming it is a quote from that person (usually by saying this is what the person said). For me (and maybe this is from being in debating club throughout jr high, which is also one of the reasons I can follow most of the rules of the HoC/Parliament debate btw) you always provide the original in it's verbatim form and note the source before you then argue with it specifically to prevent that kind of nonsense since one can never have an honest disagreement/debate if you are not talking about the same thing from the outset. Especially when that is directly because the challenger did not properly cite the point(s) in question accurately in the initial challenge and likely onwards. Anyhow, that is getting off the topic, sorry.

I hope that you continue to get calm sensible comments in here on this as you mostly have so far (mostly because the appearance oriented ones I'm afraid I find mostly specious under the circumstances) instead of it ending up as some sort of bash/flame JC discussion. I say that because I think you are right, but this needs to be discussed calmly and rationally and especially without trying to settle any old scores/axes in the process. I am pleased that you felt I offered well to this given how serious this topic is and the fact that I am not a directly affected person, not being a Libblogger nor a Liberal party member. Cherniak I think can be over time a valuable asset for the Liberal political machine, but he still needs some mentoring and polishing first, and I don't think he has yet found that person as WK for example is someone that he can learn from but is IMHO a dangerous person for a mentor. Especially these days for within the Liberal party given his own role in the schism wars between Martin-Chr├ętien.

I have always found it ironic that I was taught my political education in no small part by one of the top Liberal party partisans of their generation, yet because of that grounding from my youth combined with my way of perceiving reality around me I could never be a true party partisan myself. It nearly broke that relation's heart, but they eventually were able to accept it (not without a long attempt to sway me otherwise, and only quiting when recognizing this was truly the only way I could be in this respect and be true to myself, which they respected since they taught that free thinking and self determination/realization was one of God's gifts to humanity, and humanity's obligation/responsibility to rise to the challenge of) and understand, even when I voted PC in elections. So I can understand the mindset while not sharing it and recognize its value so long as it is not taken to excess. For even above party must come nation and the basic rule of laws that allow us to live together and resolve our differences politically in the first place, that was also part of the teachings they taught me.

I mostly/generally vote as I feel is the best choice in each election on the local candidate as much as the party platform at both federal and provincial levels, and of course solely candidate at municipal as generally there is no active party politics within our civic politics/elections. Although they are similar to minor leagues for the other two levels with parties so there is some connection, just not a major amount in terms of defining the candidates and their agendas for in office unlike the other two levels. This is why I define myself as a swing voter and why I tend to resent being branded a partisan especially a Liberal by so many of the Harper defenders since it is truly not an accurate nor fair accusation. Yet it also underscores one of the things that puts me into such opposition to him and his party, they are too willing to simply assume facts not only not in evidence but are available yet chosen to be ignored/discarded for partisan purposes, even simply to try and discredit the source of criticism to avoid having to respond to it directly.

So I take a very active interest in politics and the major parties and their respective internal dynamics. I knew the PCPC and Liberals best on both levels and had reasonable understanding of the NDP in my Province since I knew Alexa back when she was the sole Provincial NDP MLA and the federal somewhat as well, although it is the weakest of those. The Reform/CA/CPC I also took an interest in, but only because with Reform first I was interested to see whether a truly useful/positive force had entered politics to shake things up, but alas the more I looked under the surface the more uncomfortable I became with the underlying xenophobic elements I saw dressed up in nationalism and heritage frames.

Politics is one of the things I have always had a knack for understanding and following when I was young onwards, and if my health had not gone the way it had it is very likely I would be making my living connected to it by this point in my life as I had always intended on being involved. When I was in jr high I wanted to be PM someday, but by the time I hit my mid 20s I had come to understand myself better and to realize I am not the best suited for the job and actually prefer not to be in the spotlight all that much. I suspect that came from my youth where I was in a sense always under a spotlight of unwelcome and unwanted negative attention. That is partly why I feel I might have some useful insights to offer as well as why I think my arguments against Harper may help sway some undecideds that may be reading these comments even if they are not commenting.

Well, I am definitely getting sleepy; I have gone way off topic now and rambled a lot. Since you have said in the past you didn't mind me doing so before I hope you will forgive this one also. I think I am going to call it a night after publishing this comment and doing a quick check on a couple others I left elsewhere today before calling it a night. Take care and hopefully you have a good set of responses by the end of this thread's popularity.

Candace said...

There is a reason that I do not belong to the Blogging Tories. While I support the party in general (i.e. I agree with probably 75-80% of the policies on a good day), there are some I do not. I would be doing the party zero favors being seen as an "unofficial" online supporter. Nor would I accept a high-profile role in someone's campaign, although I'll happily volunteer my time. (Yes, Scott, I see you coming!)

As anyone who has blogged for more than a few months knows, the internet is forever.

If a person presents their blog as either officially (as in the NDP's new blogroll they were talking about) or unofficially (like the Blogging Tories) behind a particular party, they need to accept the responsibility that comes with the implied prestige. That responsibility requires that serious thought goes into each and every post, with a view to "does this hurt or help the party?"

If one wants to be able to rant at will on whatever subject (as I do), then ...

My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

All Cherniak did was to suggest everyone interested put a video out there on Harper. How is that making him the face of bloggers, or for that matter a spokesperson for the Liberals? The blogosphere is supposed to be a place for free speech. I appreciate Cherniak's energy and resourcefulness. If anyone out there wants something different, they can go ahead and do it.

As for Duffy's bit on CTV, the woman from the Star thought the vids were quite good and covered some points that needed to be said, while Fife - who knows how that guy got his job - said that the Liberals were so poor that they hired Cherniak to get some kids to make some very bad videos. Clearly he can't even get his facts straight, apart from just being a nasty sort. Thank heavens for the blogosphere, one has a choice of often well-considered and intelligent opinions unlike most of those on the MSM.


A View From The Left said...

Cherniak isn't the worst face we could have for the online community, however I think it should be a group of people representing us as we are a group to begin with. I'd have no problem with Cherniak being a part of a group, but him as the only voice isn't such a good idea.

Steve V said...

I erased the "paulo" comment, because it's offensive and inmature.

Sheeple said...

I nominate myself!

Steve V said...

How about nobody? ProgBlogs is a good example of someone running a site, with a low profile, and many moderators, which suggests some egalitarian spirit.