How to Troll the DNC

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 5 2012 2:19 PM

How to Troll the DNC

CHARLOTTE -- How do you crash a party's convention coverage? How do you throw them off their message? The Democrats never quite figured this out in Tampa, even though Ron Paul's delegates proved to be a fun distraction. But conservatives are doing pretty well at distracting the Democrats during their final blast of free media. And by "conservatives," I mean conservative media. They're tripping up the Dems much more effectively than the rump of unimaginative #Occupy protesters.

- Start with the story that broke yesterday -- that the Democrats watered down the Israel section of their platform. That came from the Weekly Standard's Daniel Halper, who ran it only a few hours after the platform was released. It was latched onto immediately by the Washington Free Beacon, the new-ish and proudly trollish* site, which has sent multiple reporters to Charlotte to work on stories about how disastrous the convention is. And by the evening, it was in the arsenal of questions that cable hosts kept asking Democrats. I got caught in the rain at the CNN Grill, for around an hour, and watched Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash lob Israel questions to every Democrat who came on.

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- Continue with Fox News working the "God" story. The word "God" does not appear in the Democratic platform, after appearing in only a cliched way ("God-given talents") in 2008. Fox News has riffed on the "God" story 22 times since the platrform came out.

- Finish with the Washington Examiner's ongoing tale of the phony Michael Oren quote. Phil Klein, one of the Examiner's reporters here, attended a ludicrous-sounding event for Jewish Democrats at which Debbie Wasserman Schultz claimed that the Israeli ambassador said "that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel." Oren denied this. Schultz, confronted with the quote by Fox News, said that the Examiner -- which shares an owner with the Weekly Standard -- had misquoted her. Batting clean-up on the story: The Free Beacon. "As DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Ambassador-gate scandal deepened last night [Ed. - Already a -gate!], political observers were left wondering how someone who lies so frequently could be so bad at it." No political observers were named, but that report's providing more grist for the Romney campaign.

Present any of this information to another group of reporters, and they might not have run with it. But the conservative media has the DNC's chairwoman back on her heels about the issue she was supposed to clean up for Democrats. It's astounding to watch it unfold.

*Michael Jordan was once described in its pages as a "failed baseball player."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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