He told the Hopkins students he thought former President Bill Clinton best exemplified how much the media world has changed in the eight years since his presidency. The Internet was just a toddler when Clinton ran for re-election in 1996 and, before that, just a gleam in a geek's eye when he ran for Arkansas governor. But the medium made the modern campaign trail more treacherous for Clinton. When he campaigned for his wife last spring, his words, quickly transmitted and magnified, became sources of contention even from the smallest media markets "where they stashed him," Mahtesian told the group.
Four years ago, during President Bush's re-election, conservative blogs led to Dan Rather's exit from CBS over the network's forged-document fiasco. During the midterm race two years ago, liberal blogs derailed Sen. George Allen's bid for re-election and perhaps higher office over a racist remark that he uttered to a small group of supporters and, to his undoing, a rolling video camera.
Whether new media produces a moment that so alters this presidential election remains to be seen, but the Internet's a much more unruly adolescent than it was the last time - and particularly fascinated by one "hockey mom."