The other interesting (to me) thing about ponytailgate, or whatever we’re supposed to call it, is how the story broke. Normally when someone has a scandal like this (I know – there is no other scandal like this) they take it to someone in the mainstream media. But if Amanda Bailey did that, then whatever journalist she gave her story to would, routinely, call the Prime Minister and ask for comment – at which point the National Party communications machine would roar to life and devote all of its energy and power into shutting the story down, or litigating it down to nothing. They may have succeeded. They’re very good at that stuff.
If you take it to a blogger then that check for a balancing comment doesn’t happen. Bloggers don’t play by the rules. But what they do – and I’m thinking of Cameron Slater here, as well as his homologues overseas – is insert themselves into the story. They write it up, in imitation of a mainstream media story and then accompany it with commentary and interviews on the MSM outlets they affect to despise, and attempt to frame the story and promote themselves. In Slater’s case that tends to dilute the story since the attack is so clearly partisan and motivated by malice.
Bomber didn’t do that. Instead he simply published the waitress’s own account as a primary, information-rich source that the mainstream media could base their stories off. Reporters called the PM, but the scandal had already broken and the media were all matching each other’s stories. It couldn’t be shut down. And Bomber kept himself out of it all. That approach – publish a primary source and make it available to all media simultaneously – turned out to be a really awesome way to get the story out there.