Center for American Progress, Meet the Streisand Effect
from the beware-the-backlash dept
Back in 2005, Mike coined the term "the Streisand Effect" to describe the situation where an attempt to suppress information generates increased publicity for that information. Our latest example comes via my friend Matthew Yglesias, who on Friday had some choice words for a center-left organization called Third Way. Matt blogs on a site run by Center for American Progress (CAP), though with full editorial control over the posts on his particular blog on the site. Despite calling Third Way out, the post got little overall attention on the blog.
On Sunday, however, readers of Matt's blog were treated to this creepy post in which Matt's boss, Jennifer Palmieri, noted that his posts don't reflect the opinions of the Center for American Progress, and then insisted that CAP has "a great deal of respect for [Third Way's] critical thinking and excellent work product." This is a great illustration of the differences between traditional and web-based media. In a traditional paper publication, everything is subject to editorial control, and in all likelihood Matt would have been asked to tone down his criticism of Third Way before his writing hit the presses. But Matt's blog gets posted unfiltered, complete with curse words and spelling errors. The immediacy of Matt's blog is a big part of what keeps readers coming back to the site. And it's also what made Palmieri's post so damaging.
Although Matt's blog is hosted on CAP's site, it's Matt's blog, and readers expect to get Matt's unfiltered opinions. Having Matt's boss hijack his blog in order to publicly reprimand him is really jarring. And then there's the Streisand Effect. Everyone would have forgotten about Matt's original post within a few days had someone at Third Way not called Matt's boss and demanded an apology. Instead, the entire liberal blogosphere is talking about Matt's post... and about Third Way's thin skin. The backlash is going to do far more damage to Third Way's reputation than Matt's original post could have.