Edwards' Blogger Resigns After 'Anti-Christian' Row

July 7, 2008 - 8:32 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Religious groups outraged at provocative comments made by two bloggers employed by the John Edwards for President campaign said the resignation of one of the bloggers Monday evening is not enough.

"This isn't over yet," Kiera McCaffrey, director of communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, told Cybercast News Service. "There is still one more anti-Catholic, anti-Christian blogger on his staff."

Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan blogged for the campaign of presidential candidate John Edwards for President campaign and also on their respective personal websites - Pandagon and Shakespeare's Sister.

The Catholic League took particular offense to a Marcotte posting last year that mocked Catholic views on contraception and the Christian belief that Jesus was born of a virgin.

In a more recent posting on Sunday, Marcotte blogged about the movie "Children of Men" and once again took aim at the virgin birth doctrine in a way most Christians would find offensive.

Pandagon has been taken down due to the amount of response Marcotte has received, but the web address does link to a lengthy posting by Marcotte on the controversy.

McEwan, meanwhile, has sparked criticism for postings like one from last November in which she called religious conservatives President Bush's "wingnut Christofascist base." McEwan is still employed by the campaign.

The Catholic League called for the two to be fired Monday after the bloggers issued apologies and Edwards said in a statement he would keep the two on his staff despite being "offended" by their comments. "That kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign," he said.

McCaffrey said, "There is no room for a big politician to have these sort of bigots on the payroll, so we'd like to see McEwan gone as well."

In her resignation posting published on Monday evening, Marcotte derided Catholic League President Bill Donohue, whom she accused of "running a scorched earth campaign to get me fired for my personal beliefs and my writings on this blog."

"It was creating a situation where I felt that every time I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign," she wrote.

"No matter what you think about the campaign, I signed on to be a supporter and a tireless employee for them, and if I can't do the job I was hired to do because Bill Donohue doesn't have anything better to do with his time than harass me, then I won't do it," Marcotte added.

McCaffrey denied that Donohue and the Catholic League had harassed Marcotte, saying all it had done was issue releases drawing attention to some of her postings.

"That's not even an exaggeration, that's a blatant falsehood. She's one to crow about her free speech, but when free speech goes in the other direction, she's quick to claim it's harassment. It just shows that this woman is a loose cannon," McCaffrey said.

'Political opportunist'

Media writer Howard Kurtz wrote in Tuesday's Washington Post that Edwards has been put in a difficult situation.

"The former North Carolina senator was caught between conflicting pressures. On one hand, Marcotte and McEwan, like many writers in the freewheeling blogosphere, had written profane and offensive attacks on their detractors, using language that no presidential candidate would be comfortable defending," he wrote.

"On the other, liberal bloggers were embracing their cause, depicting them as victims of an orchestrated conservative campaign to discredit them," Kurtz added.

Kurtz noted this dilemma stems from the nature of blogging.

"Every major presidential candidate has hired one or more bloggers as a way to tap into the network of online activists who can generate considerable buzz, and donations, in a campaign. But many of these bloggers have a long cybertrail that leaves them vulnerable to criticism in the more buttoned-down environment of national politics," he said.

But Michael Paranzino of the conservative blog Zino.TV, a former press secretary for Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) said Edwards' actions show he is just "pandering to Democratic primary voters" but that not firing the bloggers may hurt him politically.

"Edwards' standing by his anti-Catholic bloggers could be marginally unhelpful to him in places like Iowa, where about 18 percent of voters are Catholic, but its real impact is showing him to be an indecisive leader," Paranzino told Cybercast News Service.

"His claim to be personally offended, but not enough to fire the offenders, will become one data point in an emerging critique of Edwards as a political opportunist who believes in nothing," he said. "It is like his supporting the Iraq war when it was popular, and now opposing it when it is unpopular."

Paranzino added, "Had these bloggers made similarly hateful comments about gays or environmentalists, they would have been fired on the spot. But attacking Christians is apparently not as big a concern to a candidate pandering to Democratic primary voters."

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