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Strafing the Speaker

The New York Times reported Wednesday that a second newly hired blogger, Melissa McEwan had among other things written about President Bush's "wingnut Christofascist base."

After days of criticism by conservative bloggers, Edwards said in a statement: "The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwan's posts personally offended me. It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. . . . That kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign."

But Edwards said he wanted to give the bloggers a "fair shake" and that he accepted their word that they never intended to malign anyone's faith. In an obvious allusion to denunciations of the two women by conservative bloggers, Edwards said he would not allow his effort to debate the issues to be "hijacked."

Marcotte said in an online posting that her comments on religion were "generally satirical in nature. . . . My intention is never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs, and I am sorry if anyone was personally offended by writings meant only as criticisms of public politics."

McEwan said: "It has never been my intention to disparage people's individual faith, and I'm sorry if my words were taken in that way."

The controversy has sparked a backlash among liberal bloggers, who say that conservatives orchestrated an attack on Marcotte and McEwan despite the incendiary rhetoric sometimes used by right-wing commentators online.

Lefty bloggers are thrilled. "It took a little while," says Kos, "but Edwards set the right precedent for how this type of smear should be handled. As a Democrat, I'm proud of him and his campaign. And I'm happy that Edwards is ready to move beyond BS 'hijackings' like this to talk about real issues."

Protein Wisdom has a different perspective: "Edwards just showed up Marcotte and McEwan as frauds and posturing blowhards, writers who have been pulling the wool over their audiences' eyes by posting vicious 'arguments' they never truly believed. To use the loaded language of establishment feminism--he publicly castrated them--and in so doing, he made fools out of their audiences, to boot."

The cross-examination of Tim Russert concluded yesterday, with Ted Wells, Scooter Libby's lawyer, even playing some clips from "Imus in the Morning." The New York Times captures the intensity:

"Mr. Wells, using the technique that Mr. Russert is known for as moderator of 'Meet the Press,' then put up on video screens throughout the courtroom Mr. Russert's words in an affidavit he filed later. In an effort to avoid complying with a subpoena to testify about the same subject before a grand jury, Mr. Russert swore that he could not discuss the conversation because to do so would violate his deeply held journalistic principles.

" 'Did you disclose in the affidavit to the court that you had already disclosed the contents of your conversation with Mr. Libby' to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Wells asked.

" 'As I've said, sir . . . ,' Mr. Russert began.

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