Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pachyderms in the Mist: Red America and the MSM

The WashingtonPost launched a new Conservative Blog. Red AmericabloggedThis is a blog for the majority of Americans.

It's about time the Left Wing WaPo did something for conservatives.
Since the election of 1992, the extreme political left has fought a losing battle. Their views on the economy, marriage, abortion, guns, the death penalty, health care, welfare, taxes, and a dozen other major domestic policy issues have been exposed as unpopular, unmarketable and unquestioned losers at the ballot box.
Democrats who have won major elections since 1992 have, with very few exceptions, been the ones who distanced themselves from the shrieking denizens of their increasingly extreme base, soft-pedaled their positions on divisive issues and adopted the rhetoric and positions of the right -- pro-free market, pro-business, pro-faith, tough on crime and strongly in favor of family values.

Yet even in a climate where Republicans hold command of every branch of government, and advocate views shared by a majority of voters, the mainstream media continues to treat red state Americans as pachyderms in the mist - an alien and off-kilter group of suburbanite churchgoers about which little is known, and whose natural habitat is a discomforting place for even the most hardened reporter from the New York Times.

Needless to say, the left side of the blogosphere did not appreciate it.

Atrios blogged The Washington Post adds a conservative blogger to balance the liberal blogger they don't actually have.

Tapped blogged Via Atrios, the Washington Post has apparently granted a column to conservative blogger Ben Domenech. The name of the column is "Red America."

Why Domenech? It seems likely that the Post hired Domenech mainly as a sop to the paper's right-wing critics. Recall that the right went berserk over writer Dana Milbank's TV appearance mocking Dick Cheney's accidental disfigurement of a friend's face with a shotgun. And the right has long hurled Molotov cocktails at Bush critic Dan Froomkin. Recall that Deborah Harris recently wrote that Froomkin's column is "highly opinionated and liberal," adding that Web executive editor Jim Brady was "considering changing the column title and supplementing it with a conservative blogger."
We would rather have some conservative editors and reporters.
So, is Domenech that conservative blogger whose role is to offset Dan Froomkin and, in the process, placate the Post's right-wing critics? It looks that way. We've emailed Post spokesperson Eric Grant, asking if Domenech's hiring is related to the Froomkin and Milbank flaps. We also asked if the Post has any liberal bloggers, and if not, are there any plans to hire one.
WaPo is filled with Left Wing editors and reporters. Try for a Fair and Balanced news room, and you can have your token right wing blogger.
Grant didn't immediately get back to us. If an answer is forthcoming, you'll be the first to know.

Chris Bowers blogged There Is No Right-Wing Blogosphere Anymore
You wish.
In our August 2005 paper the Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere, Matt and I wrote the following (emphasis in original):
Conservatives use the same tactics on blogs that they do in mainstream politics - attack the media and attack progressives. The right wing tends not to build independent online communities, using their existing offline communities to generate web sites that reinforce their politics and their ideology.
By online communities he is referring to the Looney Left building "diaries" in an environment controlled by their master Kos, where he can keep an eye on them, tell them what to think, and who to hate, and where he can strip them of their blog if they stray too much to the right.
Their web presence is nurtured by institutions and is part of the conservative, right-wing media machine. The Drudge Report, for instance, is one of the largest conservative sites and frequently receives its information from Republican operatives.
The Drudge Report is not a blog. It does not support comments or trackbacks, and it does not have an RSS feed.
Most right-wing blogs reiterate talking points that are generated from inside formal conservative institutions; conversations center on feeling victimized for being right-wing, attacking and hating progressives, and attacking and hating the media.
He assumes that, because that is what the left wing blogs do, and he cannot imagine conservatives thinking for themselves.
The political successes of this community have been largely founded in manipulating media coverage. The two clearest examples are the John Thune bloggers in South Dakota, and the Dan Rather scandal.
I still believe this, only now I feel it has developed to such a degree that the right-wing blogosphere itself has been all but annihilated.
Wishful thinking.
Most major right-wing bloggers have now been incorporated into the established news media apparatus. Glenn Reynolds is a columnist for MSNBC. Andrew Sullivan is a columnist for Time. Michelle Malkin is a frequently published columnist in a number of offline outlets. And now, RedState co-founder Ben Domenech has a regular column in the Washington Post.
A few Conservative bloggers have shown they have something to say, so the MSM occasionally consults them. And he finds that unacceptable. But their blogs have not disappeared, and there are many conservative bloggers that have never appeared on TV.
Despite being the latest in a long line of conservative bloggers to achieve "mainstream" status with the established news media, his first column was, predictably, an attack on the same institutions that just hired him and gave him space.

In short, there is almost nothing in the way of an independent right-wing blogosphere operating outside of existing, established news media outlets.
He could not be any more wrong.
The days of the rise of Free Republic have long passed. The right-wing is not building new institutions online anymore. To quote again from the report Matt and I produced:
Progressive blogs build communities of activists and generate new political activity online.
Training their minions to think what the Dems want them to think, and hating who the Dems want them to hate.
Blogs and online organizations offer forums where people can actively engage in progressive politics - real involvement from people talking about politics, policy, organizing, their lives, etc. The degree to which progressive blogs encourage active engagement in political dialogue has fueled their rapid growth over the past several years.

The single most important difference between the blogospheres is this: the progressive blogosphere is introducing new actors into the political scene. The right-wing blogosphere is facilitating further organization of what was already a fairly coherent political world.
"The blogs," as they are known in many media outlets and circles and DC, are now almost exclusively the realm of progressives.
What he is saying is tthat the left wing MSM usually talks to left wing bloggers, and only occasionally tries to be balanced by bringing in Right Wing Bloggers.
The entire term "the blogs" implies a new institution operating independently of established centers of news distribution and political power. That no longer exists on the right. The right-wing blogosphere, as it is now constituted, is simply an extension of a larger message machine that developed long before the blogosphere ever existed. The right-wing blogosphere no longer holds any promise to produce new leaders within the conservative movement, or to alter the balance of power within the conservative movement in any way, shape or form.


Shimmy said...

Ann Coulter loves death more than Al Qaeda does. She thinks about dead people when she's making love.

Don Singleton said...

Ann Coulter loves death more than Al Qaeda does. She thinks about dead people when she's making love.

I did not know that. But then I never made love to her, so I will accept your first hand experience