Online Response Surprises Oprah Petition Creators
September 12, 2008 2:55 PM
In just 24 hours, more than 44,000 people signed a petition urging Oprah Winfrey to have Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a guest on her show before the presidential election. The reaction has stunned the two people who created the Web site www.palinpetition.com.
Joshua H. Bolin and Mark Hammonds, partners in an as-yet-unnamed Augusta, Ga., blogging network, said they put together the petition site quickly, getting it up Thursday morning, Sept. 11. It went up even before they could launch their political blog www.thepoliticalfish.com, which was to launch Friday.
They said the petition started out of conversations they had with friends generated by some Oprah stories on the Drudge Report Web site. Also, they admitted, it was an attempt to generate a little traffic and an e-mail list for their new site’s newsletter.
The original goal was to reach 4,000 or 5,000 people through friends and family, with maybe some viral additions with a Facebook page, said Mr. Bolin.
Instead, they had to change the site’s server within hours because of high traffic. There are now so many signers, Mr. Bolin, said there is uncertainty about what to do with the list of names because there are too many to simply forward to Ms. Winfrey.
“We didn’t realize the Palin petition would have a life of its own,” said Mr. Bolin. In addition to people signing up, he said, 900 left comments.
Although the petition would seem to appeal most strongly to Republicans, Mr. Bolin and Mr. Hammonds said they aren’t Republicans. Mr. Bolin describes himself as a Democrat with conservative leanings, while Mr. Hammonds said he was a Democrat, but anger at Ms. Winfrey is pushing him to vote for Republican candidate John McCain.
The two said they started the petition because they genuinely felt Ms. Palin should be interviewed on the show. Ms. Winfrey, who has endorsed the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, told the Drudge Report that because of her personal endorsement, she chose not to use her show as a platform for any of the candidates, but hopes to interview Ms. Palin after the Nov. 4 election.
"I have been a fan of Oprah’s for over 25 years and have to say I am disappointed she has not made this invitation herself,” said Mr. Hammonds. “Sad, sad day for women! Oprah is trying to set women’s rights back 100 years.
“As a concerned Democrat, I feel that we should get to know Gov. Palin as a person. She is not getting a fair hearing. If she does not [get exposure], then I will feel that the Democratic Party does not want this (apparently) capable young woman to get any exposure.”
To the best of the Daily Blink’s knowledge, the Democratic Party has no affiliation with or control over “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Mr. Bolin said 10% of the petition signers identify themselves as Democrats and many were women in Democratic states.