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Web Gone Wild! Clinton Starts Blog War

With millions of sites floating through the blogosphere, who really has time to peek at even a fraction of them? Blogophile reads them for you and presents a weekly roundup of the buzz on must-read blogs. Blogophile appears new each Wednesday, and is written by's Melissa P. McNamara.

Few people can rile up the blogosphere the way a Clinton can. This time, it was former president Bill Clinton. Bloggers were buzzing about Clinton's interview on Fox News Sunday, in which he angrily defended his counterterrorism record. Plus, blogging isn't just for the young. Meet some blogging seniors. And, fans of NBC's "Studio 60" were not so happy with the show's blog. Find out why.

Steel Cage Match

Few people can rile up the blogosphere the way a Clinton can. This time, it was former president Bill Clinton. An interview on Fox News Sunday, in which Clinton angrily defended his counterterrorism record and accused "President Bush's neocons" of ignoring Osama bin Laden until Sept. 11, 2001, had over 1 million people searching for "Clinton" on blogs.

Clinton had planned to discuss his climate change initiative during his interview, and accused Fox host Chris Wallace of straying from the issue by asking Clinton why he didn't do more to "put bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business." And that's when the former president turned combative.

"So you did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me," Clinton said to Wallace. "I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of? And you've got that little smirk on your face and you think you're so clever. But I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it," Clinton added.

Kathryn Jean Lopez of The National Review's The Corner called it "Clinton's Tom Cruise moment," while the Washington Post labeled it "Clinton's Finger-Wagging Moment."

Think Progress posted the full interview here. The video clip on YouTube was a top video of the week.

As expected, reaction in the blogosphere fell mostly along political lines. Liberal bloggers were happy to see a Democrat fighting back, while conservative bloggers suggested the former president was rewriting history. And more than a few bloggers on both sides thought the whole thing was planned.

"...I wish Clinton had done that to the media when he and Hillary were under constant assault during his presidency," Susan writes at Random Thoughts.

"Back then, though, Clinton had NO idea what he was up against. Perhaps the biggest mistake he made in his presidency was underestimating the ruthlessness of the radical right."

"Clinton completely smacks Wallace down with details, facts, and truth," Planet Geek writes.

But conservative bloggers, like Jeffrey Mark, said Clinton was spouting revisionist history. "Clinton, a failed president, knows it and wants so badly to rewrite his administration's history," Mark writes.

"I find it rather amusing that Clinton had all those chances in eight YEARS to take out OBL and could not do the deed but then has the audacity to say no one in the Bush administration tried as if we are supposed to excuse eight years of impotence by acting like it should have been done in eight months," adds Big Dog at Webloggin.

Some took out their anger at Fox, disturbed at how the network was marketing the interview. "Of course Fox has a commercial agenda as well a rightwing one — they've been selling this interview as 'Clinton Gets Crazed!' — not far off from 'Presidents Gone Wild!'," Batocchio writes at Blue Herald.

Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

Perhaps the creators of Lonelygirl15 should give some marketing tips to television entertainment executives.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, NBC launched a faux-blog dubbed "Defaker: Gossip on Studio 60," modeled on the popular gossip site, Defamer. Defaker was designed to generate publicity for its new show, "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip" ... but the only publicity it generated was negative. So negative, in fact, that it appears that the blog has been pulled off the Internet.

The mock-blogger at Defaker chronicled the events portrayed in the series' premiere episode, saying of an on-air breakdown by the show's producer: "The man actually pulled a 'Network' on live television by stopping the show's cold open to deliver the ground-breaking news to the American populace that Studio 60 [was awful] and the network made him replace something that was incredibly funny with something that was incredibly lame. The whole thing has made waves all over town. Variety covered it extensively."

Bloggers weren't amused, and called it everything from dreadful to awful. The Los Angeles Times reported that the comments section of the blog became a feeding ground for bashers of both the stunt and the show. The newspaper said the comments included both assaults on the quality of the show and its directors.

Many bloggers thought the idea behind Defaker wasn't necessarily bad, but mocked its execution. "The idea is brilliant…Unfortunately, Defaker imitates only the look of Defamer. The first (and, so far, only) post reads like a recap of the pilot episode. Considering how Studio 60 is such an inside baseball drama, there's so much potential," Lyle Masaki writes at Crocodile Caucus.

Other bloggers just found it confusing, understandably. "So, real people attacked a phony blog about a fictional "NBS" show that's the subject of a real NBC show and draws inspiration from NBC's "Saturday Night Live"?," Frank at Blogspotter writes. "That's real confusing."

Neverless, the show has plenty of online fans…which is more than can be said about the failed blog. "The show's good. You should watch it," Mister Hand writes. "What you should not do is read the fake blog they made for it."

Blogging For The Young At Heart

If you've read any of the latest studies about bloggers, you'd find that bloggers are mostly young. In fact, a Pew Internet & American Life Project study published in July found that more than half of bloggers are under 30.

But that doesn't present the whole picture because there also bloggers like Donald Crowdis.

At the age of 92 (and a half), Don launched his blog "Don To Earth." He's never been one to shirk new things — afterall, he was the first host of the popular CBC television series "The Nature of Things" — but he's certainly defying the statistics about the young blogosphere.

And, Don is not alone. Seniors are becoming one of the fastest-growing groups on the Internet. A Pew study found that online use by seniors spiked 47 percent between 2000 and 2004.

So, what do senior citizens write about? As you might imaging, it seems age is more on their minds than, well, Suri Cruise. But many also write about current events and pop culture.

In a recent entry, Don Crowdis reflects on reaching 90. "Anyone over 90 who says they never give their age a thought is not being truthful. Every day I wake, I give thanks and check my pulse," he writes. "Then I attend to the first pills of the day before I eat and listen to the morning news on TV, which is always bad these days, with various religious persuasions infiltrating and killing each other in and around the Holy Land. I want to keep up, even though I am old and do not have to do anything about it all."

Millie Garfield of Delray Beach, Florida is a mere 81 year old, and reflects on her age as well. Her most recent post offers tips on how to stay young. "Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down," she recommends, and also advises, "Keep learning." "Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. An idle mind is the devil's workshop. The devil's name is Alzheimer's," she adds.

Millie also blogs with thoughts on other subjects, ranging from widowhood, to cooking, to pop culture.

Bob Kronish, 80, of Boca Raton, Florida, blogs frequently about world events. His current post, a hefty 2,000 words no less, concerns Singapore's stem-cell research, but he also wrote about whether the U.S. is losing the war for innovation and the global oil crisis.

Kronish told the Florida Sun South Sentinel that researching and writing his blog posts keeps him mentally fit and engaged. "It helps me keep up with the world today," Kronish told the newspaper. "I'm addicted to the computer. It's a mental curiosity that compels me to find things I didn't know about. I enjoy it to no end."

So, watch out teens—your grandparents could soon be giving you some advice on how to blog!

Cardinal Goes Web Surfing

Cardinal O'Malley, Boston's Roman Catholic archbishop, is joining the ranks of bloggers. He launched a blog to give daily updates on his ten-day trip to Rome that began last weekend. Like any good blogger, the cardinal's blog is complete with Internet slang and personal stories.

Upon his arrival in Rome, Cardinal O'Malley reflected on his days as a young seminarian in Germany. "I have many fond memories of those days in the early 1960's," he blogged. "I will share with you, believe it or not, that I and everyone else were wearing lederhosen in those days…but, do not try to find those pictures because I assure you that the negatives have been destroyed….LOL!"

O'Malley may be the only cardinal to have a blog. Archidiocese spokesman Kevin Shea told the Associated Press that his office is not aware of any other blogging cardinals. And he says the blog may become permanent if it's a success.

The archdiocese said the cardinal was using the blog as an informal way to reach out to the public, particularly to young people active in the blogosphere. In general, the cardinal's tone is casual. For example, in part of a recent post, he describes the ride from Rome to the San Giovanni Rotondo:
"…We hadn't had anything to eat so at about 9:30pm we stopped at what I call an 'Italian Howard Johnson's' which is sort a combination of Wal-Mart and Papa Ginos all wrapped up in one…lol…we had some very good pizza and sort of tepid coca cola, because ice is not a big feature of life in Europe."

But unlike his fellow bloggers, don't expect to hear any political rants. As the New York Times notes, Cardinal O'Malley's blog has no political discourse, gossipy comments or tales of extremely bad behavior.

And, so far, bloggers have nothing but praise for the blog.

"Regardless of whether you're Catholic or not, or even if you can't stand organized religion, I think this will prove some really interesting insight into the inner workings of Boston, Catholicism, and maybe even the Holy See," a blogger at On The Other Hand writes. "At the very least we'll learn something about the Cardinal himself."

Adelle Tilton agrees. "It had to happen. And I think it is great. Now I am waiting for Pope Benedict XVI to launch his own blog - would that be cool or what?," she writes at Catholic Windchimes. "I believe as does Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, that bringing together the old and traditional practices of the Church together with modern technology is a great idea."

Many bloggers say the Cardinal's blog will help make the church more accessible to people. "I think it's a refreshing change, something I think more bishops should be doing. As it is now, most Catholics receive communications from their bishops filtered through the news media," Domenico Bettinelli writes at Bettnet.

But Bryan Person has a caveat for Cardinal O'Malley. "This blog certainly has the potential to become a successful — and meaningful — venture over time, but only if O'Malley is truly willing to connect to his readers on what concerns them," Bryan writes at Bryper. "A ceremonial trip to Rome is one thing, but writing about the real everyday issues that concern Catholics — church closings, healing the wounds of the sexual abuse cases, etc. — would be quite another."

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By Melissa McNamara