Monday, May 07, 2007

Error Of Omission

If you follow netroot politics, you've heard a bit about Joe Anthony lately. He started a Myspace page for Barack Obama, reaching 160,000 friends on the page. He worked with the Obama campaign, as a volunteer, to maintain the page. And all was good in the universe.

Then something went horribly wrong. Anthony, a volunteer up until that point, asked for compensation for his work. He wanted $39,000 for setting up the page, with another possible $10,000 from ad revenues, bringing his total compensation to $49,000. The Obama campaign balked, and through Myspace, wrested the page away from Anthony and now has full control of the page, while Anthony has nothing.

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times writes up L'Affaire Anthony today. For whatever reason, Sweet seems to relish thumbing the Obama campaign in the eye, and her column did not disappoint. It was sympathetic towards Anthony, but the most glaring thing about the column - it never mentions Anthony's attempt to get $49,000.

Now matter how you feel about the issue (full disclosure, while I feel the Obama campaign was a bit ham-handed in their handling of this issue, volunteers should not request payment, never mind trying to squeeze a campaign for $49,000), Anthony's efforts to get paid were the catalyst for this kerfuffle. To omit that from this story is either negligence or incompetence. I'll let you all decide.


At 10:30 AM, Blogger Paddy said...

But, as the story goes, if after Anthony asked for the bucks (at an average of 35c a person) the Obama ppl had paid up, the whole thing could have just faded away.

A great deal money wise compared to the way the D Consultants fleece the campaigns. The O people made this scandal what it is.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Cliff Schecter said...

I definitely think Obama messed up somewhat, and agree that with what Shrum, Penn and the other losers make....well...

But BC also has a point. If you're a volunteer, and you accept that role (welcome to my 20s) you can't really demand compensation. He could have asked for some, and they should have obliged.

I really think all parties have some egg on their faces on this one.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger BC said...

Sure, Paddy, the Obama people could have paid up. But is what he did worth $49K? Is it worth $10K? He started a Myspace account on Obama. That doesn't seem like a whole lot of effort or innovation on his part.

As I said, the Obama people could have handled this better. But if you volunteer, don't expect to get paid, especially after the fact.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Corinne said...

Drive by posting:

I highly recommend reading Micah Sifry's write-ups over at, which are more detailed and thoughtful than Lynn Sweet's.

First and foremost, the assumption that Anthony was looking for a big payday isn't exactly true. Sifry talked both with Joe Rospars and others from the Obama campaign as well as Joe Anthony:

But what strikes me as odd about it is Rospars' claim that Anthony's "list of itemized financial requests" came unbidden, after the workload on the page exploded and Anthony cut off the campaign's password access to the site. Rospars would have you believe that Anthony was in effect extorting the campaign by witholding access, but my notes of my conversations with Obama staff, which were "on background" make clear that Anthony only produced that proposal (the $39,000 plus the $10,000 for possible advertising spending by the campaign on MySpace) at the request of Chris Hughes.

I also recommend the posts over at Both sites I think discuss the situation in a more thoughtful way.

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, maybe this is why Osama, I mean Obama, is losing all his MySpace friends.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger BC said...

Yes, because he had this disagreement, he is very much like the leader of Al-Qaeda. Very funny and an apt comparison. No wonder you stayed anonymous

At 4:10 PM, Blogger nik said...

To be fair, he is not the one who demanded the money. After reading his account, the Obama campaign asked him for how much it would cost to give them full control of the page. He had worked on it for a year and a half and it seems that the Obama campaign wanted to come in and take the work that he had done. This guy obviously likes Obama and supports him, but the way it was handled looks like a set up.
"How much do you want for the MySpace page?"
"Look everyone! He is holding the page hostage and demanding money for it!"

It was a lot of work and no one likes their work taken from them. If it wasnt worth anything the the Obama campaign they didnt have to offer him any support or use the page at all. But it was a good page with lots of users and a way to contact thousands of supporters. For that ability to talk directly to supporters and curious people they would pay much more for that if it was a TV commercial.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger BC said...

Sorry, not buying that at all. He was a volunteer, and he was asked how much he wanted for control of the page and he came up with $49,000? Sounds more like cyberquatting than an effort on behalf of a candidate you like.

The fact that Obama has $26 million and the fact that campaign commercials cost millions is irrelevant. The question is, if you put up a myspace page for a candidate, how much is that worth. And $49,000 is just way too much.

Isn't that what the average American family of four makes a year? This wasn't the guys main job, it was a sideline hobby that he did on a volunteer basis.


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