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Blogosphere Politics

For a member of the MSM, Michael Barone really "gets" the blogosphere:

Blogosphere politics

Going into the 2004 election cycle, just about everyone said the Internet was going to change politics. But no one was sure how. Now we know.

The first signs of change came from the Howard Dean campaign. His campaign manager, Joe Trippi, used the Internet and meetup.com and moveon.org to identify and bring together Bush haters from all over the country and raise far more money than anyone expected. Dean rose to the top in the polls and amassed an E-mail list of 600,000 names. When Democratic voters dropped Dean as unelectable and embraced John Kerry as the most readily available instrument to beat George W. Bush, Kerry inherited Dean's Internet constituency. No one expected the Kerry campaign to raise more money than the Bush campaign. But it did, because of the Internet.

The Democratic Internet constituency was and is motivated by one thing more than anything else: hatred of George W. Bush. To see that you only have to take a look at dailykos.com, run by Democratic consultant Markos Moulitsas, which gets 400,000 page views a day--far more than any other political weblog--and which received funding from the Dean campaign (which Moulitsas disclosed). It seethes with hatred of Bush, constantly attacks Republicans, and excoriates Democrats who don't oppose Bush root and branch. When four American contractors were killed in Iraq in April 2004, dailykos.com wrote, "I feel nothing over the death of the mercenaries. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them." This repulsive comment produced no drop-off in page views. This was what the left blogosphere wanted. Kos was an early enthusiast for Dean's campaign for Democratic chairman and disparaged other candidates.

For 12 years, Democratic chairmen were chosen by Bill Clinton. He built a new generation of fundraisers who relished contact with the Clintons. Now the big money comes from the left blogosphere and Bush-hating billionaires like George Soros. Dean gives them what they want. As Dean says, "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for." Hate. But Bush hatred was not enough to beat Bush in 2004--while Democratic turnout was up, Republican turnout was up more--and doesn't seem likely to beat Republicans in 2006 and 2008. The left blogosphere has driven the Democrats into an electoral cul de sac.

After discussing the right half of the blogosphere and its distain for the MSM, he concludes...

So what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans.

That about sums it up.

Barone must have spent a fair amount of time reading blogs as he clearly gets the dynamic.. This wasn't just some clueless reporter doing an obligatory report on those new blog things.

I've never really taken the time to consider the net effect of the blogosphere on the partisan divide, but he clearly is correct. The left is driving over a cliff at full speed and the right keeps removing any guard rails that might save them. The blogosphere has helped the Republicans far more than the Democrats... And it shows


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Comments (15)

I've read the left-wing blo... (Below threshold)
Jim:

I've read the left-wing blogs and find them to be lacking in intellectual honesty. Perhaps some right-wing blogs are guilty of this malady, but I've yet to see it. Barone cites a paradox: the leftie blogs help the GOP and the conservative blogs help the GOP. The best thing we can do is to encourage the moonbats to ride "the peace train" off a cliff. Hillary Clinton knows this. Which is why she's moving to the right daily. At least as far as her rhetoric. However, fear not: she's as looney as the rest of the Libs and will reveal herself sooner or later. It's part of the mental makeup of the Liberal-Left. They can't help themselves. Eventually they do or say something that irks most clear thinking Americans.

Can't remember who makes Ko... (Below threshold)
OneDrummer:

Can't remember who makes Kool-Aid, but might be a good time to invest in their stock... plenty of moon-bats will be thirsty.

Michaeal Barone sez:<... (Below threshold)

Michaeal Barone sez:

To see that you only have to take a look at dailykos.com, run by Democratic consultant Markos Moulitsas, which gets 400,000 page views a day--far more than any other political weblog--and which received funding from the Dean campaign (which Moulitsas disclosed).

A little bit of libel here, eh? Markos Moulitsas was hired by the Dean campaign ... but for technical services. The DailyKos website received no such funds. Think I'll point this out to the folks at Daily Kos. You deserve the annoyance of a "cease and desist" letter.

For 12 years, Democratic chairmen were chosen by Bill Clinton.

Another lie, eh? While Clinton's thoughts were influential, it was hardly he that "chose[] ... Democratic chairmen".

Cheers,

I've read the left-wing ... (Below threshold)

I've read the left-wing blogs and find them to be lacking in intellectual honesty.

Who gives a dam what you think?

However, fear not: she's as looney as the rest of the Libs and will reveal herself sooner or later.

That's one good reason why we should safely ignore you.

Cheers,

Arne, I never fail to find ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Arne, I never fail to find amusement in people who put forth effort to say they don't care what someone else thinks, and announce that they are ignoring them. Obviously you care what Jim thinks -- you took the time to answer him. And you didn't ignore him, safely or not.

J.

Watch it, Jay! He's a law s... (Below threshold)
julie:

Watch it, Jay! He's a law school dropout and may send you a "cease and desist" letter.

What julie (^^) wrote. And... (Below threshold)
-S-:

What julie (^^) wrote. And, Arne has the "copy and paste and call people 'liars'" thing down to a non-professional porridge.

Sensible suggestion: if left alone, he'll copy and paste himself into silence.

I reminded myself, however, as to the recent spate of liberal tactic underway, and that is to call anyone/everyone a "liar" if and when they write anything that isn't moonbatteried, deanified mantra. I think it could be called, MOONBATTERY.

I notice on FOX, for instan... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I notice on FOX, for instance, that each and every single "spokesperson" for the left/Democrats displays shared behaviors: quickly begins yelling at everyone about things not even in the discussion, and, never responds to questions but begins yelling again about issues not included in the discussion.

Every single time any of the "spokesperson(s)" from the left is featured on any program, it becomes a shout-out process and one of those liberals-there-to-dictate-to-everyone-else sort of experiences, such that, all they have to do is keep on with being who they are and it will continue to drive people to conservative company and partisanship.

The former Dean campaign spokespersons now moved on to being "Democrat" spokespersons on broadcasts, use this very shout-down offense method but they continue now even after Dean as DNC Chair isn't running for any office (an oxymoron if ever I heard one), they continue to use Dean as some figurehead of something grand about which to make 'the message' on any broadcast appearance...

People have had enough of Howard Dean, except and only except the former Dean campaigners who are still starry eyed about some 'star' quality they feel that Dean has -- which speaks badly about the personalities so struck, is what I am expressing here.

Let's see, the latest mantras: anti-war, "liberals are spiritual, too" and, what else? The ongoing visitor to FOX on behalf of the DNC, formerly on behalf of Dean Campaign ("Jenny Backus" or maybe it is "Jeanie Backus") has nothing to offer except ongoing hatrid for President Bush. She can't formulate an opinion or present any information without referring to how "terribly" and/or how "badly" or how "failed" or similar "Bush" and/or "this President" "is," and then she starts even louder yelling.

She seems alright as long as they just leave the broadcast running and she has a one-way pronouncement to everyone, but the moment anyone poses any other comments, asks a question, or worse, QUESTIONS her, she starts in with that over yelling practice.

And that's just one "spokesperson." They are all the same, unfortunately.

(^^) Which I share here in ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

(^^) Which I share here in the blog thread because there isn't much separation in the blogosphere personality than what is viewed on television broadcasts by 'spokespersons' for the left. Perhaps the psychology is that there's an assumed one-way-flow of information, which is what, in fact, harmed the left most of all, as it does all socialist and fascist movements.

He gives way to much credit... (Below threshold)
Rod Stanton:

He gives way to much credit to blogs for W's reelection. Remember that Rathergate was an attempt to switch attention form JFK's dishonorable Nam record. This was the result of the Swift Vets campaign which started in Apr.

JFK's poll #'s were trending down when the DNC convention took place. His "Reporting for Duty" stunt combined with the Swift Vets Truth campaign resulted in his NEGATIVE bounce from the convention. The negative bounce scared the MSM/DNC into the "Favored Son" Smear, of which Rathergate was only a small part.

Rathergate did not cause the public to go against JFK the public had already started turning against him before Rathergate.

Rathergate did generate a lot of respect for blogs and bloggers. That respect is evident by the fact that CNN asked Eason to look for work elswhere. Blogs are a serious force today; they were not last Oct.

I don't know-I don't think ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I don't know-I don't think he gives too much credit to the blogs, although I do believe that much of the reason the GOP and Bush did so well, was because the GOP has learned how to do "get out the vote" better than the DNC, but even the Swiftvets got most of their play in the blogs, because other than Fox, the MSM decided to attack the messenger rather than really investigate the messege.

I think the one thing the Rather stuff did was it brought home the fact that the MSM wasn't being honest, fair of balanced in their coverage.


Arne- Kos did indeed get pa... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Arne- Kos did indeed get payola from Dean. Get a clue.

Since you are new here, let me give you the rules for commenting on my posts.

You can disagree all day long.

But post something demonstrably and inarguably wrong and it gets deleted.

BTW when the current criticism of your side is that they are a bunch of extremist whackos, your best retort is not to prove them correct by example.

KnowhatImean?

I guess I am now cleared of... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I guess I am now cleared of Arne's awful earlier labelling of me (called me "a liar") after I wrote that KOS and others were financially supported by Demo campaign(s), discovered only after persistence by others about that, not by their own volition or free offering of relationship(s).

Thanks. ~;-D

RE: Arne Langsetmo post (Fe... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Arne Langsetmo post (February 13, 2005 01:02 AM)
A little bit of libel here, eh? Markos Moulitsas was hired by the Dean campaign ... but for technical services.

Let's have the readers decide how "technical services" were acquired and exactly what they might be interpreted to be, shall we?

Kos defined
DailyKos.com - Markos Moulitsas Zúniga
What began in May 2002 as a daily online rant for Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, has developed into a huge cult following and a pillar of the online Democrat community. In its first year, Daily Kos attracted over 1.6 million unique visits and about 3 million pageviews. It currently receives nearly four million unique visits per month. The success of DailyKos has spurred Moulitsas to also launch the Political State Report, a collaborative weblog (with over 100 contributors) tracking politics from all 50 states and OurCongress.org, a site tracking the nation's hottest races. Daily Kos was one of first ever bloggers credentialed to cover the 2004 Democratic National Convention and has raised over $400,000 for Democratic candidates.

So we establish that Kos's site is a "daily online rant" with a "cult following" serving as "a pillar of the online Democrat community", that he tracks politics professionally, that he serves as credentialed recorder of Democratic events, and that he rasies funds for said politicians. Now we know what he is, so let's see some coverage of how he operates.

The ethics of blogging as private citizen and paid advocacy - an insider's view.
The Narrative, A Proposal, and an Apology Sunday, January 16, 2005

I [Zephyr Teachout] remember the first day of his [Joe Trippi] complete anger, because it also coincides with the time he [Trippi] got obsessed with “getting Kos [initial W. Clark supporter].”

...

It was sometime in the next few weeks that we got the contract for Armstrong/Zuniga.

Jerome wanted to come work for Dean at the office, and I think Joe wanted him to.

So Joe asked Matt to figure out which blog was more important to get for influence in the blogosphere: MyDD or DailyKos. Matt decided DailyKos was more important. I don’t remember the reasoning, but the blogosphere was all entirely new to me – I never read blogs before the campaign – and everything I learned about the heirarchy was new, and mostly from Matt.

Okay then, Joe said, its okay if Jerome came to work for us and stopped blogging, we’d still have DailyKos.

“Get Kos on the phone!” Trippi would scream. “Where’s Jerome! He’s not calling me back! Are they going to fuck us?”

Trippi asked us to look over the consulting contract that Markos/Zuniga proposed and tell him what we thought. We thought it was good, but had a lot of the ideas we’d heard elsewhere (at the time we were getting pitched by a handful of internet consulting firms), and they didn’t provide any unique technical service that we wouldn’t want to hire in house. I told Joe that if he didn’t want them for other reasons, the consulting contract wasn’t worth it. He said we needed Kos for Dean, and, more importantly, not to go work for someone else.

I think there was also some indications that Armstrong/Zuniga was actively talking to another campaign (Kerry’s?) as consultants, and Joe thought that would be death, but I remember that less clearly.

Joe liked Jerome personally, and trusted him – later that year I would hear Joe call Jerome for political and blog advice, and he respected him a lot. Jerome had access to Joe that most consultants never had. I also heard him, though less frequently, talk to Kos and ask his advice over the year.

Furthermore, I think its right to note that MyDD and Jerome had the most powerful impact on the campaign by introducing Meetup to the campaign, months before any of this came up – and Meetup changed everything.

There were a few days where I think Kos started putting up a Draft Clark effort that Joe went into absolute panic, and we were beaten with screams about talking to Kos, talking to Jerome, getting that contract through. “We NEED Kos” Joe kept screaming.

Needless to say, the contract went through.

This was an insider's description that Kos's blogging and its impact on spreading a message was the most desired, that others provided the same "ideas", that any "technical services" that Kos offered could be had in house, that the services as described in the contract were not worth it unless there other reasons to justify it, and that "more importantly" Trippi did not want Kos to "work" for someone else.

For those interested, Z. Teachout's [zonkette] Frequently Asked Questions provides more background to the story with the associated gripes of Democratic partisans.

Some clear thinking individuals might question this contract for "technical services" as a buyout of Kos's message machine, i.e. his blog, to spread candidate Dean's message and to deny that machine from competing candidates; further, as described, this message machine and its creator did not provide any unique technical service and few novel ideas that were not already available. Why would someone, in this case the top political advisor of a Presidential campaign, want to pay a consultant for material and knowledge they already had? Trippi's not stupid and he reportedly said why - "...we needed Kos for Dean, and, more importantly, not to go work for someone else." Trippi wanted Kos's blog to be vocal for Dean, silent for others, and would sign a contract for that to happen, which he or colleagues did. Is this a wrong interpretation? To me what reportedly transpired sounds dangerously close to payola until the paid advocacy is declared on the medium by which such advocacy is dispensed.

When was this contract signed? On or about Saturday, June 07, 2003?
When was the disclosure for consulting? Monday, June 09, 2003
But for the record, I will not discuss my role within the Dean campaign, other than to say it's technical, not message or strategy. I will also not discuss any of my other clients, including their identities (I have non-disclose agreements to which I must adhere).

The official disclosure seems prompt enough so timeliness is not an issue. As such, payola is probably not the operative phraseology - buying disclosed influence might be the closest descriptor, so where that falls in a legal or ethically binding sense is up to legal experts. But I am neither confident of his proclamation that message or strategy does not leak into his blog or about those other non-disclosure bound promises to other compensating entities. That should raise some red flags. To his credit Kos freely concedes:

Ultimately, I trust you all to take what I write with the proper grain of salt, fully appraised of whatever conflicts of interest I may have.

An entirely fair disclosure that allows me to question his every post. Did he post something on his site because he believes it or did he post something to prove to his political financier (or potential financiers) that he is pushing a cause that justifies his contract or warrants a bonus or extension? Does anyone want to follow in zonkette's "naiveté"? Wouldn't it just be easier to admit that there are conflicts right off the bat?

Teachout defends this ethical breach and subsequently presents confession with:

Ethics, to my mind, is where you violate a broadly accepted norm, and there were no broadly accepted norms. There were no norms at all.

The reason I raised this was because I want there to be broadly accepted norms in the future, and I wanted people to think, in VERY Concrete terms, about the pressures inside a campaign to “get bloggers” who have a following. Of course this is going to happen again, its going to happen times ten. Trippi often said I was very naïve, and it may be a fair criticism – but now I’m a citizen, and not working for anyone, I want to use that naivete – my reckless willingness to believe things can be different in politics -- to try to change things.

I'd say this is a pretty damning view of the transgressions exercised to acquire the "technical services" of said Kos.

Treachout follows with and deserves a modicum of credit for proposing:

Therefore, I think one thing we should do is engage citizen watchdog groups in finding out what bloggers are tied to what consulting companies, and prominently publish any contracts – and ask candidates not to hire any of the truly prominent bloggers unless they, like Jerome did, agree not post while consulting.

Blogging ethics is certainly a topic that needs vigorous and open debate. I'd say it has been entirely fair for us to question Kos's methods, motives, and remuneration. As far as legality, that day may soon come to pass. Maybe you'll find a relevant point in your favorite reference, Anthony Lewis's Make No Law, that addresses ethics, libel, and blogs, but I have my doubts. The application of libel to the digital age of blogging has not been adequately challenged and it certainly wasn't addressed by him 14 years ago. I am glad to see that you will advocate "cease and desist" letters to those that defame. You might want to start penning a few to, or preparing the defense for, your cohorts at Kos.

RE: Arne Langsetmo's post (February 13, 2005 01:04 AM)
Who gives a dam what you think?
and
That's one good reason why we should safely ignore you.

Right back at you, Arne, right back at you.

Incidently, these aren't quite up to your typically longer posts? Did a breeze pass by one ear and snuff the pilot light?

That was some drivel.... (Below threshold)

That was some drivel.

Good comment, insightful read.




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