Here’s a blast from an almost four-year-old, distant past: over the past few days there has been a micro-debate about the identity of the “first White House blogger.” I found out about it because William Beutler discovered some dead links on the rexblog (now fixed) related to posts relevant to the topic I made a few years back. He was responding to a post from Micah Sifry on the techPresident weblog related to a recurring mini-dispute over who gets credit for being the first blogger to receive White House press credentials.
However, a year before that “credentialed” blogging happened — as William points out — I did some un-credentialed blogging at the White House — and not of a briefing, but of a private meeting with the President that (I learned later) was off-limits to the press. (This link will take you to a category that groups — reverse chronological — all of the posts related to that event.)
Coincidentally, when I was in Washington on Monday of this week, I ran into the former administration official who set up that White House meeting I participated in back in 2004. It was the first time I’d seen him since that day and he told me the White House press office “went nuts” when they learned (via the Washington Post) that I blogged the meeting. (On the other hand, Patrick Ruffini, who had recently joined the Bush campaign and was heading up their grassroots web strategy, was quick to view my post as something they should point. After that, Patrick and I became friends.) As I said at the time, as I was leaving, a White House press person asked me if I’d talk with a reporter and told me I could tell him anything I wanted to. I figured if I had permission to do that, I had permission to report on the meeting myself. Today, we call that “citizen journalism.” Dan Gillmor used the meeting as an example in his book We the Media (Amazon link) a few months later — which is when I learned I was a “citizen journalist.”
I wasn’t then or now a “political” blogger — and, frankly, I didn’t consider my post “political,” but rather a “geez, people, guess what I just did,” post. (Those were simpler days of blogging innocence.) At the time (remember, it was nearly two years before the last election), most political bloggers who wrote about it at the time — from the right and left — thought it was great that I blogged the meeting.
Why bring this all up again? At best, it’s a historical footnote. But, hey, it’s this weblog’s historical footnote.