April 15, 2005


The Blogosphere: Insiders vs. Outsiders (Digby, April 13, 2005, In These Times)

What most journalists and others who observe the new phenomenon of political blogging fail to understand is that the “blogosphere” is actually two rather sharply distinct spheres. These roughly mirror the country’s political divide and are organized in very different ways.

The right blogosphere operates largely as part of the greater Republican message machine. Many of its bloggers are already part of that infrastructure, working as journalists for conservative publications, writing books and lecturing. Independent bloggers on the right hail from all walks of life, but the leading voices are either part of the political machine itself, like Mike Krempasky of RedState, or closely connected to the conservative media and think tank infrastructure, like Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin and the PowerLine bloggers. The right blogosphere is a reflection of successful top-down Republican message control, and as such these bloggers are welcomed warmly into the fold.

As Garance Franke-Ruta writes in the April issue of The American Prospect, the right-wing blogosphere has also recently become useful to long-established political operatives such as Morton Blackwell, mentor to iconic GOP campaign strategists Karl Rove and Lee Atwater. In the recent Eason Jordan affair, the right blogosphere was credited with forcing the former chief news executive of CNN to resign over a controversial off-the-record comment. It turned out that many conservative blogs were part of this larger concerted effort. In the wake of this success, conservatives are now running what Franke-Ruta describes as “Internet Activist Schools, designed to teach conservatives how to engage in guerilla Internet activism,” or what some people used to call “dirty tricks.”

By contrast, the left blogosphere is populated by “citizen bloggers,” who work in non-political occupations for a living and blog for reasons of personal interest. This sphere actually operates as a unique and potentially powerful political constituency rather than a part of the Democratic Party apparatus. Unlike their counterparts on the right, the lefty blogs have had to crash the party, but because they did it with energy, votes and money, they are making themselves a power in their own right.

In the last election cycle the “netroots” exerted their influence through prodigious fundraising, contributing greatly to the Democrats’ fundraising efforts. Howard Dean’s primary campaign also demonstrated that the Internet was a rich source of small individual donations that collectively added up to many millions. But throughout the campaign, blogs such as Daily Kos and Eschaton were able to raise the six figure sums that normally only fat cats like Bush “Pioneers” could generate. And along with that money came a large group of engaged and informed netroot activists who were able, in the weeks leading up to the election, to marshal a boycott of national advertisers virtually overnight to protest Sinclair Broadcasting’s plan to air a blatantly partisan documentary about John Kerry. That action led to a precipitous downgrading of Sinclair stock, enough to cause the company to abandon its plans.

Weren't those Kos people actually employed by the Dean campaign?

Five Ways to Combat Conservative Media (Jamison Foser, April 12, 2005, In These Times)

1. Stop talking about “bias.”

Inaccurate, distorted and misleading news reports that further a conservative agenda or undermine progressive ideas dominate our newspapers and airwaves. But this isn’t necessarily because reporters or media outlets are biased towards conservatives.

For every Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, there are dozens of reporters who don’t have an ideological axe to grind, but whose work contains conservative misinformation anyway.

Of course, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are entertainers, who are paid for their bias, while the thousands of "reporters" just happen to be Democrats by margins of 10-1.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2005 7:49 AM

These self-congratulatory, "we're so obviously morally superior" essays are just tiresome. They aren't intended to persuade anyone, so what's the point? When are they going to realize that describing your fantasy world as if it were reality is just lying to yourself?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 15, 2005 12:35 PM

OJ: I didn't know you were part of the message machine. Stop holding out on us.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 15, 2005 4:55 PM

As soon as anybody trots out the "conservative bias in the media" thing, I put them in the tinfoil hat category.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at April 15, 2005 5:53 PM

This guy must think the sky is orange. "Citizen-bloggers" predominate on the left, but not the right?

Except for those who were already journalists or pundits (Hewitt, Malkin, Marshall, etc.), most popular bloggers (on both sides of the aisle) already have professions (like the PowerLine guys, the law professors, the academics, and even the mil-bloggers).

And he's still beating the dead horse about the RatherGate story being technically correct on the details? No wonder he used a pseudonym. I wouldn't have signed my name to that, either.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 15, 2005 10:51 PM

Mr. Schwartz;

What worries me is when The Wife reads this and interogates OJ about how big a paycheck from the GOP message machine he's been holding out on her.

Or, could he show her this and claim he has a ... well, the "j" word.

On the real topic, perhaps what this shows is that

1) The GOP has been much better about being friendly and interacting with the Internet than the reactionary Democratic Party leadership

2) GOP activists can write coherently while Democratic Party activists can't

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 16, 2005 12:35 AM

Liberal "citizen-bloggers":

Kevin Drum -- employed by Washington Monthly.

Atrios -- Democratic party operative.

Oliver "Smirky" Willis -- Democratic party operative, "Media Matters" mogul.

Kos -- paid Democratic party operative.

Yep, all "citizens", aren't they.

Posted by: Steve White at April 16, 2005 3:29 PM