The folks at NewsBusters are lamenting the lack of a right-wing version of DailyKos. In a lengthy post on their web site, they seek to examine why the left has been so much more successful at motivating activists and advancing progressive issues.
“Whether or not one agrees with the political views of Markos Moulitsas, there’s no getting around the fact his website has become not just a powerful force in the blogosphere, but is also shaping the Democrat Party. This raises an important question: Why isn’t there a conservative website like Daily Kos?”
The NewsBusters column erupted from the musings of Dean Barnett at the Weekly Standard and David Weigel, associate editor of Reason. While their soul searching has produced some accurate descriptions of the differences between the right and the left online, their conclusions are devoid of insight or logic.
The contributions by Barnett and Weigel correctly observe, for instance, that conservative blogs are structured as top-down enterprises and they focus more on punditry than political practicalities. In other words, they’re more interested in disseminating coordinated messages than in precinct walking and campaign outreach.
But when NewsBusters ventures to explain the reasons for dKos’ success they completely misread the obvious. They surmise from Barnett’s comment that the progressive blogosphere is “passionate and in your face,” that lefties are defined only by what they oppose. Even if that were true, it certainly would not be a path to Internet stardom. It is left to Weigel to correct the NewsBusters by pointing out a more profound reason for dKos’ popularity…
“Moulitsas’ willingness to open up the blog and let the readers run it was crucial.”
It’s called democracy and it’s practiced by notorious liberals dating back to Thomas Jefferson, et al. NewsBusters, however, believes that the Conservosphere is disadvantaged because of a liberal media bias that forces them to fight on that front while the left considers the press their allies. Huh? They seriously assert that…
“Kos and his compatriots can rely on the media being friendly to candidates and positions they support.”
By this I assume they mean the way we can rely on the media to responsibly investigate the reasons for going to war. Or perhaps they are referring to the friendly way the press incessantly hounds Democratic candidates about their haircuts or where they attended school when they were six. They even quote Glenn Reynolds who says…
“People on the right think their political machine works, but that the media is out to get them [...] People on the left, on the other hand, know the media is basically on their side, but feel that their political machine stinks.”
How then would they explain the innumerable references to media bias, incompetency, and slander that is a daily part of DailyKos (and News Corpse)? Anybody who is paying attention would be well aware of the dissatisfaction the left deservedly holds for the corporate-dominated media that routinely disparages progressives and their values, despite the fact that polls show that those are the values that are most representative of mainstream America. And once again, even if NewBusters were correct, it hardly serves as an explanation for dKos’ success.
NewsBusters goes on to ascribe a laundry list of situational reasons for why dKos took off: the war in Iraq; Howard Dean’s campaign; the Republican majority; etc. But they only seem to trip over a real reason accidentally by recognizing its “free-wheeling nature.” However, even here they reveal their disdain for free speech by describing the comments emerging from this environment as “abhorrent.”
The NewsBusters are clearly suffering from an Internet inferiority complex. At least they recognize now that a race is in progress and that they are losing badly. But I don’t know how they can expect to compete when they have no idea what the game is. If NewsBusters really wants to know why dKos is successful, and how they can emulate that success, they will have to remove their blinders. Now, I don’t want to give away the recipe, but I will say this: It includes generous heapings of reality and liberal portions of free thought (pun intended).
Update: NewsBusters has posted a response on their site that generously concedes some of what I’ve said here – mostly the parts where I conceded some of what they said there. But they also said that I was “laughably incorrect about the media being pro-war.” I guess they don’t read or watch the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, etc. All of these media outlets, and more, were unquestioningly supportive of the administration’s arguments in the run-up to the war in both their reporting and their editorials.