“But how do the hash tags work, exactly?” “How can I link my blog to my Facebook page?” The questions were directed at me and came from a retired female cop from upstate New York. Our dining companions, seventysomethings from North Carolina, listened eagerly for my professional media expertise. They hadn’t yet joined Twitter but planned to after all they’d heard about it at the Smart Girl Summit, a recent conference of conservative—mostly Tea Party—women. They listened eagerly to my answers, then even more eagerly as featured speaker Michele Bachmann told the group that 61 percent of independent voters distrust the “lamestream” media, that the media are even angrier than the Tea Party. The ex-cop blogger clapped loudly and politely passed the rolls my way.
The Smart Girl Summit, attended by about 250 (largely women, with a smattering of husbands and male speakers), grew out of a blog started by a stay-at-home mother. One of the featured speakers, Dana Loesch, a rising conservative pundit and home-schooling mother, initially grabbed attention for her blog, Mamalogues, which she still maintains in addition to her TV and radio work. Another, Rachel Campos-Duffy, a Real World alum, has maintained her media presence through a combination of mommy-blogging and TV punditry. One attendee, a hairdresser turned full-time mother, grabbed national attention during the 2008 election for her blog, mom4palin.