Mark your calendars, set your cell phone alarms, and tell your friends: U.S. Senate candidate Jim Risch will join D.F. Oliveria of the Huckleberries Online blog for a live Q&A session at 1:30 p.m. Pacific/2:30 Mountain on Friday. Dave is kinda sorta inviting questions at this post, but he says "no promises" that he'll use those queries.
So - just as on his radio guest slot the week before last - Risch still won't actually be taking questions from the public, as his Democratic opponent Larry LaRocco has repeatedly done during live blogs and webcasts. But at least he is visiting a blog, albeit one sanctioned by the Rischs. Jason Risch told the Idaho Statesman last week that his dad "draws a very distinct line between legitimate media and the bloggers that are left-wing hatemongers. The blogging done by legitimate media sources are not in the same category as the left-wing hatemongers."
Of course, Jason Risch has a right to be miffed at his dad's portrayal - by the Jonathan Swifts of Idaho blogging at 43rd State Blues- as a squeaky voiced gnome. Fair enough. But we can't let Risch Sr. get away with broad-brushing all bloggers as "hatemongers" simply because we criticize him for ditching debates, shunning his opponents, and distorting his record of tax-shifting and big business butt-kissing.
I've been blogging about Idaho politics since 2003, and here's all I want:
To lift up Democratic candidates and causes for consideration by my fellow Idahoans.
To point out the real problems that result from lopsided one-party political control, such as what we currently have in Idaho.
To do a little reporting, as my time allows, on stories that are ignored by the traditional media.
Do I hate what one-party Republican control is doing to our state? Yes. Do I hate Jim Risch, Bill Sali, Mike Moyle, Bryan Fischer, and the others most responsible for this situation? Personally speaking, no. But will I - and other progressive Idaho bloggers - do everything we can to elect more Democrats and end the reactionary GOP reign of error? Absolutely. Partisan blogs are valuable additions to the media scene precisely because readers know where we stand, and because we frequently write about topics that the salaried folks in the "real" media don't have the time, inclination, or cojones to cover. (Just how much reporting do you think the soon-to-be-defunct South Idaho Press did on local radio renegade Zeb Bell? Now there's a hatemonger ... )
Randy Stapilus has an interesting take on this at Ridenbaugh Press: "The problem with such simple dichotomies, when you talk about political communications these days, is that it’s not an either-or, not jut this or that, but a whole range, a spectrum. Even among the liberal or conservative blogs - those explicitly so - you’ll find a wide range of efforts, some focused to a degree on news and breaking information, others focusing on putting ideas and opinion into the mix. And others heading into altogether different directions."
Exactly. It's time for the Rischs to realize the legitimacy of all blogs, not simply those sanctioned by traditional media organizations. Jim Risch's appearance at Huckleberries Online this Friday is a first step, but a very small one. If he really wants to show credibility on this issue, he will do what Larry LaRocco has done, repeatedly: Pick a partisan blog and appear live there. Even in a friendly environment, hard questions get asked, the real candidate can emerge, and voters can make more informed choices.
P.S. I enjoyed Sisyphus' comment at the Stapilus post noted above, about Risch's decision to join Oliveria for a live blogging session: "Of course, as Jill points out, it will be interesting how someone who doesn’t personally own a computer will accomplish this feat."