The right-wing blogosphere has gotten its scalps -- John Edwards has fired the two controversial bloggers he recently hired to do liberal blogger outreach, Salon has learned.
The bloggers, Amanda Marcotte, formerly of Pandagon, and Melissa McEwan, of Shakespeare's Sister, had come under fire from right-wing bloggers for statements they had previously made on their respective blogs. A statement by the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, which called Marcotte and McEwan "anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots," and an accompanying article on the controversy in the New York Times this morning, put extra pressure on the campaign.
Speculation from sources that the two bloggers might be rehired was bolstered by Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, who said in an e-mail that she would "caution [Salon] against reporting that they have been fired. We will have something to say later."
This isn't the first Internet-related misstep for the Edwards campaign, which had been making an effort to reach out to the "netroots" but has found its popularity dropping in a straw poll done on the landmark liberal blog Daily Kos. Though he still leads the poll by one point over Sen. Barack Obama, Edwards' support has dropped nine points in the past three weeks. He has also come under fire in the liberal blogosphere for his statements on Iran and his campaign's failure to return the calls of supporters and press, and was embarrassed when his Web site mistakenly revealed his candidacy a day before his official announcement in New Orleans.
Leading the charge against Marcotte -- and to a lesser extent McEwan -- have been bloggers like the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez and Michelle Malkin. Malkin originally accused Marcotte of trying to scrub Pandagon's archives of material that could be embarrassing to the Edwards campaign. When that proved untrue, Malkin posted a correction, but said that the fact that she had been wrong was "even worse for the Edwards campaign" because "its blogmaster left crackpot posts like that one up and hired her anyway."
Malkin, it should be noted, is hardly innocent of being involved with what ABC News' Terry Moran termed "hate speech" when applied to Marcotte. Malkin has long maintained ties to VDARE, a Web site tagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center that has published works by people like Jared Taylor, one of America's leading white supremacists, and Sam Francis, who was fired by the conservative Washington Times for his own white supremacist remarks, given at a conference held by Taylor's organization. The liberal press watchdog Media Matters has also noted Donohue's long list of controversial statements.