Graff, Garrett M. 1981-

views updated

Graff, Garrett M. 1981-


Born 1981, in VT; son of Christopher (Associated Press-Vermont bureau chief) and Nancy (a historian, children's book author, and former magazine editor) Graff. Education: Harvard University, B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Photography, sailing, cooking, scotch, Graham Greene novels.


Office—Georgetown University Center for Continuing and Professional Education, 3101 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 200, Arlington, VA 22201. E-mail—[email protected].


Washingtonian magazine, editor-at-large; Georgetown University, Washington, DC, faculty member. Former vice president of communications at EchoDitto, Inc., and deputy national press secretary for Howard Dean's presidential campaign. Founding editor,'s FishbowlDC.

Frequent guest on television networks, including the Cable News Network (CNN), CNN International, Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), Microsoft/National Broadcasting Company (MSNBC), and the Fox Broadcasting Company (Fox). Frequent guest on television shows, including Good Morning America, Fox News, and CNN Headline News. Frequent guest on radio programs on National Public Radio (NPR).


The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York, NY), 2007.


Garrett M. Graff started his career in politics by working as deputy national press secretary for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. Graff also founded a Web log for called Fishbowl DC, which covers media and journalism. In 2006, Graff became the first blogger admitted to a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC. His first book, The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House, examines the influence of the Internet and other new technologies on American politics.

In Graff's view, the Internet has created a "new campaign paradigm" that, due to interactive technologies, emphasizes dialogue between candidates and voters. In The First Campaign, Graff writes that the Internet has vastly increased and simplified the flow of information, has spurred voter involvement, and has aided grassroots movements. Savvy politicians, he observes, need to appreciate the potential of new technological tools such as cellular phones and text messaging YouTube, social networking sites such as and Facebook, Web logs, and online fundraising. Vanessa Bush, a Booklist contributor, stated that Graff believes that Democratic candidates are more prepared than Republicans to take advantage of these tools and to support continued research and development of new technologies, "because their history has been one of embracing big ideas and government support for those ideas."

In contrast to Mark Halperin and John F. Harris, who wrote in their 2006 book The Way to Win that conservatives were best placed to exploit new media, Graff argues that Republicans have lagged behind Democrats in this regard. He cites the success of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign Internet fundraising efforts and writes in The First Campaign that "the left's blogosphere has grown up in an era when Republicans controlled government, giving them a target and an ongoing battle to wage. The right's blogosphere has grown only in fits and starts with a party that's both in power and by its core nature more hierarchical."

Graff also discusses U.S. economic concerns in his book. Citing data that show a decline in high-technology exports, new patents, and other measurements of economic health, Graff comments that, with Silicon Valley and Wall Street luring away the most talented new graduates, government has become "out of touch" with the new globalized economy. "This disconnect," he observes, "points to one of the biggest problems that the country faces today…. The new economy lacks a political infrastructure. The older industries are the best organized and most entrenched and therefore the most powerful. They're able to land the meetings with officials that lead to government loans; it's their armies of lobbyists who can operate in back rooms, slipping in tax breaks and making competition for newcomers more difficult." Furthermore, the global economy created by new technologies has made it necessary to view issues that had traditionally been part of the domestic agenda—including education and health care—within the context of global competition.

A writer for Kirkus Reviews found The First Campaign "incisive and fairly persuasive," commending it as a "smart handbook for the politically plugged-in." A Publishers Weekly contributor, however, described the book as "accessible but unfocused." Graff, the reviewer observed, "cover[s] too much ground in too little space" in his analysis of such topics as the cultural upheavals in the 1960s, the decline of the U.S. manufacturing base, the 1980 presidential election, and the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Even so, the Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that the book demonstrates Graff's exceptional knowledge about current political issues.

In a review of The First Campaign for the New York Times Book Review Online, Michiko Kakutani noted that Graff "raises a lot of provocative questions" about large and complex issues. Kakutani, though, stated that Graff "does not come to terms with [the Internet's] downsides," including its blurring of distinctions between subjectivity and fact-based reporting, its polarizing effects, and, Kakutani added, "its tendency to promote commiseration among like-minded people instead of reasoned debate between individuals with different points of view." Nevertheless, Kakutani appreciated the breadth of Graff's research and the coherence of his analysis.



Graff, Garrett M., The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York, NY), 2007.


Booklist, November 15, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of The First Campaign, p. 9.

Campaigns & Elections, January 1, 2008, Matt DeLong, review of The First Campaign, p. 52.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2007, review of The First Campaign.

National Journal, March 12, 2005, William Powers, "Sleeping with the Enemy," author information, p. 784.

New York Times Upfront, April 18, 2005, "Blogger Breaks a Barrier," author information, p. 4.

Publishers Weekly, October 8, 2007, review of The First Campaign, p. 50.

Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2008, review of The First Campaign.


Garrett M. Graff Home Page, (July 14, 2008).

New York Times Online, (March 7, 2005), Katharine Q. Seelye, "White House Approves Pass for Blogger," author information.

New York Times Book Review Online, (December 18, 2007), Michiko Kakutani, review of The First Campaign.

Washingtonian Online, (October 6, 2006), author profile.