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The Protocols Of The Daily Kos

(Title shamelessly stolen from Charles Johnson)

The Daily Kos web site has always been an open sewer of the internet, but ever since John McCain chose Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, it's become a sewer that's overflowing and dumping its bile all over the place. It seems that every single nasty, vile, and false story put out about Palin has its origins at the Daily Kos - or, at least, was picked up and spread all over the place from there.

Palin's fifth son is secretly her oldest daughter's, and Palin faked her own pregnancy to cover for her? Check.

Palin slashed funding for teenage mothers? Check.

Palin had an affair with her husband's business partner, breaking up his marriage? Check.

Palin slashed funding for special needs students in Alaska? Check.

(Yes, I know there are no links to any of those. That's part of a later point; I'll get back to it,)

So, why does all this all happen at Kos? While I rarely espouse conspiracy theories, I'd have to say that I suspect it's largely by design.

Daily Kos is not a blog, in the traditional sense. It's a "community," where literally anyone can sign up and start blogging. (Hell, I have an account over there. I needed it when one of their diarists was spreading lies about Wizbang. That same diarist was later banned when he published a completely fictional "report" that the US military was gearing up to attack Iran in a matter of weeks, if not sooner, replete with "details" that were laughably false on their face.)

As I understand it, that community is "policed" largely by its members, with Kos and a few trusted others occasionally intervening. Largely, it's the audience that votes what stories get promoted to the main page, and what ones get "troll-ranked" and deleted.

The same principle holds for comments - the group can, collectively, remove comments they feel are inappropriate.

Thus, this has become a classic case of "the tragedy of the commons," where almost no one has any stake in accuracy or fairness or truth or common decency.

Well, Kos himself does, but his interest seems more in amassing money and power and influence than in a quality product.

So there are some standards, some mechanisms for correcting things. How is it applied?

I'm no Kos-ologist, but it seems to me that the most deadly sin for a Kos diarist is "embarrassing the community." The only time the community descends to punish an author is when they embarrass the site, usually by posting something that is not just offensive as hell, not just completely and horribly inaccurate, not just hateful and venomous, but also is drawing negative attention to the site as a whole.

And that penalty? Deletion.

That's right, the articles that cause such embarrassment are deleted. Right down the old memory hole. No explanations, no apologies, no clarifications, no corrections, it's like they never existed. The only trace of them is to be found on other sites, where they were quoted or screen-shot before they were disappeared.

They end up like how we used to search for black holes - you can't prove their existence directly, you can only infer them from their effect on other bodies.

To me, this is one of the more serious offenses in the blogosphere. I have long believed in the truth of the statement from The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam:

"The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it."

Now, with the internet, it's actually pretty darned easy to try to unwrite. It's easy to delete a comment, an article, an entire web site. Caches such as those maintained by Google and Yahoo! and others make it difficult, but not impossible to completely eradicate something once it's been published.

That's partly why I don't ever delete articles or comments that I later find embarrassing. I know that my web fu is inadequate to do it completely, and I would suck at covering my tracks.

The other reason is more principled and less pragmatic. I "own" everything I ever written. (Perhaps not in a strict legal sense, as "Wizbang LLC" holds the copyright to the entire site, and I have no idea who owns "Wizbang LLC" besides Kevin - it sure ain't me.) I stand behind everything I have ever written - even the wrong things.

What I mean by that is that I have meant everything I have ever written. They have all been sincere. (Albeit sometimes sincere expressions of sarcasm and insincerity.)

And when I have been wrong, I "own" those, too.

I don't like being wrong. No one does. But when I am wrong, I see it as a moral obligation to admit it and correct my mistake. I also try to make sure I thank the person who caught my mistake for doing so - whether they are polite or a real snot about it.

It's not just a moral thing, it's a strategic thing. Most people who try to deny ever making mistakes live in fear of the argument "well, you were wrong about X, why should I trust you now?"

I have my own answer to that: "Yeah, I was wrong about X. And I admitted it. I got no problem admitting when I'm wrong. But I'm not wrong this time. When was the last time you were wrong, and admitted it? Are you saying you've never been wrong in your life? Are you saying you're utterly infallible?"

Over at Kos, they don't take that approach. If they're wrong, so what? Just delete it. Toss it down the aforementioned black hole. Pretend it never happened. Refuse to acknowledge that it ever existed.

But that's their choice, that's their right. I have no right to demand that they live up to my ethical standards and principles when it comes to blogging. So what's the big deal?

Because of the power Daily Kos wields.

It is the 5,000-pound gorilla of the left end of the blogosphere. It has the highest readership. It has the most members. It gets the most traffic. And it draws the most influential policy makers.

Barack Obama has posted to Kos. So has Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, just to name some of the big stars.

At their annual convention ("Yearly Kos") last year, eight of the nine leading Democratic presidential candidates attended and participated in a debate moderated by the Kossacks.

Kos also took a personal hand in trying to get Joe Lieberman out of the Senate. He threw all his energies behind Ned Lamont, who beat Lieberman in the Democratic primary. Unfortunately for Kos and Lamont, Lieberman then ran as an independent and trounced both Lamont and the Republican sacrificial lamb.

Daily Kos wields tremendous power, both within the blogosphere and in the world of politics in general, but has no accountability.

Or, rather, a sense of accountability. A notion that they should hold themselves responsible for their actions, that they should "own" what they say and do.

The argument most often tossed back is that Daily Kos is just too big to be properly overseen. That they simply don't have the resources to police their site, and instead have to rely on their readers to take care of things.

Back before my blogging days, I was fascinated with the world of the spam-fighters. I read the n.a.n.a.e. newsgroup, I knew who people like Afterburner, Nyarlathotep, Neurotoxin, Torquemada, Sanford Wallace, and Ronnie Scelson were. I knew the meanings of mainsleaze, opt-out, and both definitions of LART. I remember MAPS RBL, ORBS, and SPEWS.

One of the most common defenses that internet service providers offered when they were caught tolerating spammers was that "we have so many customers, we can't keep track of everything."

The response to that argument was so stunning in its simplicity, so elegant, that it has stuck with me and found application in myriad ways:

"If you're too big to act responsibly, you're too big."

If the people who run Daily Kos (and, presumably, make a pretty penny off of it) can't manage to keep their contributors from acting irresponsibly, then the site is too damned big. They need to find a way to act responsibly, especially in light of the sheer havoc and chaos they have caused by spreading their lies.

Sadly, Barack Obama's campaign has chosen to follow the Kos model for its own site. Mybarackobama.com carries a disclaimer at the bottom of every page: Content on blogs in My.BarackObama represents the opinions of community members and in no way should be interpreted as endorsed or approved by the campaign.

They still take some responsibility for the site; the most vile stuff does get deleted. But the standard seems to be, again, "embarrassing to the owners." Currently, the site is currently hosting the "Sarah Palin said about Obama and Hillary Clinton, 'Sambo beat the bitch'" smear.

I'll admit I have a bit of a personal grievance here. Twice this week friends of mine who, for some reason, consider me their "expert" on political matters, contacted me about stories being spread about Sarah Palin. In both cases, those stories were completely and utterly false, deliberate lies intended to smear her and persuade people to not vote for her and McCain. And in both cases, my friends had been forwarded an article from Daily Kos touting the lies as indisputable facts.

To be perfectly blunt, I got better things to do than to clean up the shit the Kossacks spray around so freely. And the shovel I have is nowhere near big enough.

It'd be a lot simpler to just cork it up at the source. Or, at least, try to persuade the Kossacks to potty-train themselves.

But that ain't about to happen any time soon. They've found a working model for success - politically and economically. The only thing I can do is try to shame them, to appeal to their consciences.

But as they've made it abundantly clear, they have no shame and no conscience.

So... anyone else want to grab a shovel and join in?


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Comments (18)

I have, repeatedly. Did a G... (Below threshold)
James P.S. Martin:

I have, repeatedly. Did a Google on variations of "Daily KOS" and every time I find their outrageous crap, I stored the link and sent it to all of my friends. Including links to sites that stored a cache of their smut. You'd think the FCC would shut them down, but...

Not storing this, probably return here, but just had to say...

I have enjoyed readi... (Below threshold)
Larry:


I have enjoyed reading your stuff. You have written much good commentary. So far as I am concerned, this is your best piece; ever. You made your point and stuck it in kos fundament. What you have said deserves to be picked up and spread hither and yon, imho, if wizband, llc will allow it.

Larry

But Jay, you're missing the... (Below threshold)
dooz:

But Jay, you're missing the point! Your whole treatise here is founded on a premise you haven't stated or evaluated (at least explicitly here): That there is such a thing as objective truth, that what is true is true and what is false is false, and that either can be proven (to varying degrees dependent on our collective level of knowledge).

But there is a whole intellectual sphere out there that does not accept that premise. Instead, truth and falsehood are a matter of subjective opinion. The believers of this sphere even prefer to state what they "feel" instead of what they "believe", thus making "their truth" unassailable.

In that sphere, there are only two "proofs" of "truth": 1. Do I believe it? 2. Do "most people" believe it? [most people: the people I know of who adhere to my world view and agree with me in most things]

From my limited observations of Daily Kos, it's smack in the middle of that sphere. For them, "truth" is measured only by "does it embarrass us?", which is merely a subset of "consensus".

Problem with the approach of that sphere is, it's completely incompatible with reality. If I believe that the Law of Gravity is Right-wing Religion propaganda intended to force a belief in God on me, and if I convince most people I know of that "fact", that makes it true. Sadly, if all of us who have consensus on that belief jump off a 10-story building, we will all accelerate downward at the same rate until we all go splat (just as if we believed in that gravity crap).

So at Daily Kos, they appear to believe that "if we choose to believe it never existed, we just take it off of the site, and it never existed". Sadly, it still exists in readers' memories, in caches, in screencaps, in copies, and in reality.

Now this same principle of "consensus" is applied to morals, judgment, propriety, responsibility. There are no absolutes. There are absolutely no absolutes. You can't impose your values on me. (Strangely though, I have a right to impose my values on you.)

And there we have the core of Kos, IMHO.

I believe that's also the core of the Obama/Biden campaign, with the addition of personal ambition (although that might be said of Kos also).

We can't argue against them; we're in two different realms.

So what's the answer? Market forces. Where possible, put financial pressure on those entities who contribute to Kos' continued existence: Web host, advertisers, those who spread the garbage. "Just say, no."

Say no to buying from the sponsors/advertisers.
Say no to doing business with the Web host.
Say no to believing anything ever posted at Kos.
Say no to those who sympathize with Kos.
Vote down and vote out those whose values and regard for the truth are that of Kos and that sphere.
Say no to ignorance and gullibility.

The Kosdrones may consider this attack a Rightest plot, but so what? Their influence will be gone, and Kos' profits will be gone; then we'll see if he's a closet capitalist after all.

The problem with the pig tr... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

The problem with the pig trough that Kos represents is that they propagate rumors so fast among the Left, including those in the media, they give credibility in covering that rumor to the major media outlets. If the widespread nature of the rumor doesn't give it credibility it doesn't deserve, just the fact the rumor is so widespread gives an excuse to give the rumor airtime.

Imagine what would happen if Olbermann got up there pushing the fake 'pregnancy coverup story'. I don't watch Olbermann much so this is a hypothetical. Anyway, imagine he was the only one pushing that story. There wasn't anyone on the internet promoting it and none of the other media outlets have a clue what he's talking about, so they don't touch it. Before other people and outlet bought into the story, it would be refuted. Olbermann would become radioactive, even to MSNBC.

A rumor mill like Kos gets everyone on the same page so when Olbermann brings up the story, its more affirmation than a new story the Olbermann needs to stand by. And next thing you know, the rumor is bleeding out of the walls from every direction.

Its that common pig trough that allows false rumors to get legs it didn't used to get in days gone bye.

James P.S. Martin,... (Below threshold)
Rance:

James P.S. Martin,

Just a note on how things work. The internet in general, and blogs in particular, are not regulated by the FCC, at least not yet. Unlike radio and TV, they are not licensed. The FCC has no way to shut them down.

Even if what they say were on the radio or TV, since it is political expression, the FCC would give them wide latitude. They have always have been careful about stepping on any form of political speech, especially since the repeal of the fairness doctrine.

The way to have an effect:<... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

The way to have an effect:

Someone should sue them for slander. I doubt any major politician would want the publicity but they smear so may people, I'm sure at least one may be willing to take them to court.

Money talks. If they lose enough lawsuits, they will begin policing themselves better for accuracy.

Don't bother shaming them. They have no shame.

I apologize in advance for ... (Below threshold)

I apologize in advance for the long winded comment.

Summer of 2006: In one fell swoop the DailyKos / Netroots descended on Connecticut in an effort to remove Senator Joe Lieberman who was the Democrat nominee for Vice President just six years earlier. The DailyKos / Netroot plan nearly succeeded in removing Senator Joe Lieberman.

The election was the DailyKos / Netroots first big national test to insert one of their own groomed candidates Ned Lamont. The DailyKos / Netroots skillfully swooped into Connecticut knowing it was a summer primary ready to take advantage of low voter turnout and the Iraq War which was the Media's favorite headline. Lamont won the primary election but lost in the general election. I believe Lieberman won and maintained his Senate seat because the voters of Connecticut became aware of what was really going in their state and rejected the radical DailyKos / Netroot insurgency that took place and almost succeded while they were on vacation.


The DailyKos actions can be boiled down to two basic issues.

1. Free Speech
2. Slander and Libel


If the Dailykos wanted to exist in some dark corner of the internet as a far left wing venom spewing echo chamber we would be forced into a free speech discussion but that's not the case.

As you point out so eloquently in your post the DailyKos has been embraced by one of the two major governing parties in our government to the point of summoning the Democrat candidates for President to their convention as well as U.S. Senators like Harry Reid and Dick Durbin. This changes the way this needs to be addressed.

Democrats have to be exposed on the local and national level and held responsible for their ties and support to groups like DailyKos.

The DailyKos supporters will troll the internet pulling up handful hateful and ludicrous comments from well know conservative blogs as a "gotchya", this is a tried and false argument.I defy anyone to find the vile, hateful and slanderous material that is posted daily on the Dailykos on any Conservative blog.

DailyKos has shown premeditated planning, action and intent in their efforts to smear, slander and destroy anyone, including children, outside their "community" who is a threat to their far-left socialist agenda all while being supporters by elected politicians in the Democrat party, this moves it from a free speech issue to an accountability and legal issue.

Like any parasite if the host no longer exists than the parasite dies or adapts. The political core of DailyKos are organizations like Act Blue PAC which raises money for democrat and "progressive" candidates the DailyKos / Netroots believe will push their radical agenda at state and national levels. Voters need to be made aware of the radical behavior and agenda of the organization behind these candidates. The netroots own list of candidates they support and fund is a free database that should be tapped as a who's who of DailyKos political hopefuls.

The DailyKos and Netroots are skilled and do wield some power but I believe that power is much overestimated and like the tech and dot.com bubble which gave rise and fall to so many internet ventures, the DailyKos will meet the same fate once the books are exposed.

The way to hold them accountable is open the DailyKos / Netroot "books" to the voters in every corner of this nation and let the voters see who their Democrat candidates are really funded and propped up by and their agenda.

Sorry for the long winded comment but after witnessing the Dailykos spew an all out assault on the Palin family (which will continue) something has to be done.

"Daily Kos wields tremendou... (Below threshold)

"Daily Kos wields tremendous power, both within the blogosphere and in the world of politics in general, but has no accountability."

happily, in addition to the other things she brings to the GOP ticket, Palin seems to have brought a measure of power-remover. the press is getting absolutely b*tchslapped over their repeating these smears and the name that keeps getting used is "Daily Kos". Hell, I've started using it for things that in the 80s or 90s people would have said "where'd you hear that? the national enquirer?" Now it's "where'd you hear that? daily kos?"

Hey, Kevin, if Kos is as yo... (Below threshold)

Hey, Kevin, if Kos is as you suggest a community, do they need some organizers?

Ah, more Kos jealousy. With... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Ah, more Kos jealousy. With attitudes like this, the right will never catch up on the net.

Anyways, I've found more than a fair share of lies, omissions and plain BS on this site with about 1/100 of the traffic. Try fact checking any of the stories here and you'll get plenty of results. A pitfall of the internet, I suppose.

Ah, more Kos jealousy. ... (Below threshold)
Jo:

Ah, more Kos jealousy. With attitudes like this, the right will never catch up on the net.

The only way I care to "catch up" is by actually winning in the end. Which we do. And winning the presidency is the whole point of Daily Kos, is it not? So in essence we DO win the coveted prize in the end.

Nice try though. Lol.

Anyways, I've foun... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:
Anyways, I've found more than a fair share of lies, omissions and plain BS on this site with about 1/100 of the traffic. Try fact checking any of the stories here and you'll get plenty of results. A pitfall of the internet, I suppose.

Minus your comments and "stories", that puts Wizbang in pretty good shape. Unless, perhaps, you have your own stellar blog with pearls of wisdom you would be more than kind to direct us to. We promise not to hack away and try to get your password in an effort to edit and make you sound more intelligent. We won't even mess with your view counter, cuz we know how important those stats are.

Palin had an affai... (Below threshold)
Dave:
Palin had an affair with her husband's business partner, breaking up his marriage?

This one started on the National Enquirer.

Based on Jay Tea's advice I would not dismiss it so quickly. Jay did a recent article on the National Enquirer. Here are some direct quotes from Jay Tea's article.

But as far as accuracy goes, the Enquirer has a damned good record.
But they have earned a reputation for accuracy, and it's only the fools who dismiss their reports out of hand.
"They've found a working... (Below threshold)
John S:

"They've found a working model for success - politically and economically..."

Except for the fact Kos almost single-handedly torpedoed Obama's chance to be president. Oops.

I can't even think about Da... (Below threshold)

I can't even think about DailyKos without visualizing a locust swarm. But your black hole analogy isn't bad either. You can't click away from that site without feeling compelled to take a shower.

Though maybe it's not a bad idea to do what really works. Laugh at them. Laugh at anyone who quotes them seriously, anyone who gives them any credence whatsoever. And most of all, laugh at THEM.

They hate that.

KOS would have to publish t... (Below threshold)
Mdeva:

KOS would have to publish thousands of stories to match the lies told by Bush, McBush and Miss-Piggy-w/Lipstick.

You know what? Let's just d... (Below threshold)
dooz:

You know what? Let's just drop the whole Kos complaint. With Mdeva here among us (#16), who needs to go read Kos!

Good post, Mdeva! Now if you could add in any evidence, any evidence at all, to back up your "thousands of stories" claim, we might be almost impressed.

Oh, never mind; I was forgetting that you used very nearly clever name-calling instead, and we all know that's a fully acceptable substitute for substance.

Oh, and btw, Kos DOES publish thousands of "stories".

Unless Jay provided us an i... (Below threshold)
The Other JD:

Unless Jay provided us an inaccurate link, the link above to the "Sambo" story on MBO.com has gone Down The Memory Hole.

Birds of a feather and all that...




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