Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BLOGS v MEDIA

Ever since Rathergate, the media has been less than complimentary toward blogs, when it pays them any attention. Derogatory comments abound, such as the idea that bloggers are losers in their pj's typing in their mother's basement, from mainstream media types, especially during the time when the blatantly forged Texas Air National Guard memo was aired by CBS' 60 Minutes II. For the established news media, blogs are an upstart competitor, an annoyance that's too small to be much trouble but like the kid brother who wants to go everywhere with you, even when you want to hang out with the cool kids.

But this venom has been largely directed at more right-of-center blogs, libertarians and conservatives, while the left wing blogs have been sometimes appreciated or consulted for television programs and covered gleefully such as the Yearly Kos earlier this month. But that seems to be changing.

Tom Maguire at Just One Minute Typepad examines recent events with Kos and other leftwing blogs:

The NY Times Sunday Styles section takes a loving look at Robert Kennedy, environmental activist turned election fraud expert.

Dead Tree readers will see that the Times is hyping Kennedy's recent Rolling Stone article accusing the Evil Republicans of election fraud in 2004. That comes through less strongly in the web presentation, but a bit of the flavor is here; I don't see the Dead Tree photo of the Rolling Stone article anywhere on the web.

Despite the hype, the Times seems to have brought up the Rolling Stone article mainly to mock the lefty blogs.
He has repeated the accusation on Air America, the liberal radio network on which he is co-host of a program, and on a procession of television talk-'n'-shout fests (with Stephen Colbert, Wolf Blitzer, Tucker Carlson, Chris Matthews). Mr. Kennedy is hitching his iconic name to a cause that has largely been consigned so far to liberal bloggers and which nearly all Democratic leaders and major news media outlets have ignored and which, unsurprisingly, Bush supporters have ridiculed. Tracy Schmitt, the Republican National Committee press secretary, accused Mr. Kennedy of "peddling a conspiracy theory that was thoroughly debunked nearly two years ago."

[Robert Kennedy] had heard low-grade rumblings about alleged abuses in Ohio, faulty voting machines and minority voters waiting hours in line at the polls. But he remained skeptical, or complacent. "I kept the same kind of deliberate blinders on that much of the media did," he said, bemoaning the news media's relative preoccupation with "Brad and Angelina and the Duke lacrosse team."
We shall not let the NY Times paint with too broad a brush - although I am sure there were plenty of lefty blogs that rallied to Kennedy's fantasy, plenty of other top lefties stayed away (Odd how the Times missed that in describing Kennedy's critics - one might almost think they would like to discredit the lefty blogs as a class in order to preserve their own ascendancy in the liberal pantheon). I will toss in this link as evidence, cite Democratic Mystery Pollster Mark Blumenthal, and move on. Dot org.

Newsweek also takes up the cause, as Tom Maguire quotes:

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is sitting on his back porch in Berkeley, Calif., listening to the hummingbirds and explaining his plans to seize control of the Democratic Party.

Oh, his voices hum to him while he fantasizes of global domination. Breaking news. More psy-ops here:

When The New Republic's Web site published an e-mail from Moulitsas to a group of friendly activists urging them not to talk about Kosola and thus "starve it of oxygen," Moulitsas went berserk in a blog posting, accusing the venerable liberal journal of treason.

Finally, on page three:
The pressure on Moulitsas—to be consistent, to be pragmatic, to win—will only grow as the fall elections approach. Already, the strain of the spotlight is beginning to show in his growing belligerence and paranoia. When Kosola broke, Moulitsas e-mailed fellow progressive activists, wondering who might be shopping the story. "I've gotten reliable tips that Hillary's operation has been digging around my past (something I confronted them about, btw, and never got a denial), and you know the Lieberman/DLC/TNR camp is digging as well," he wrote, referring to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council and The New Republic. (Aides to Senators Clinton and Lieberman deny the allegations in the e-mails.)
MORE: But we love this bit of Kos hagiography:

It was the Iraq war that got Moulitsas to log on in the first place. He started blogging in 2002, largely out of frustration at how little the mainstream media were criticizing the Bush administration's apparent rush to invade Iraq. "It was a time that was very stifling for liberal voices in the American landscape," he remembers. "No one could criticize the president because it was considered treasonous to criticize the president in time of war." But as an Army veteran who served in artillery logistics in the first gulf war, he felt he could question the rush to combat with impunity. "I vowed my life for the right to criticize our leaders. Nobody was going to tell me I could or could not criticize anybody."

Emphasis added. We respect everyone who volunteers, and soldiers go where they are ordered. However, Kos was ordered to Germany during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, a point not made clear in what is otherwise a hit piece.

Commenters responded:

TM wrote: "One might almost think they [the NY Times] would like to discredit the lefty blogs as a class in order to preserve their own ascendancy in the liberal pantheon."

So evidence that the NY Times sloppily mocks lefty blogs is somehow evidence of the Times' liberal bias?

If the NY Times *praised* liberal blogs, that, too, would be evidence of their liberal bias. And in cases, like this specific article, where they are critical of liberal blogs, that also shows their liberal bias. Heads I win, tails you lose. Neat trick.
-by Jim E.

Heads I win, tails you lose
No evidence of NYT bias has been presented. Only speculation on the basis for their actions. "How does action X fit with bias Y"

A "Just So" speculation is not an assertion of proof for anything.
-by boris


What are the academic credentials of "Robert Kennedy, environmental activist turned election fraud expert."?

Why he's a lawyer. Has he taken any course in environmental science? Ecology? Statistic? Polling? Any type of hard quantitative course work at all?

I doubt it, Robert Kennedy is a jackass, who if he was Robert Smith would be ignored, or mocked.
-by patch


It's interesting that none of the stolen election conspiracy theorists ever mention Wisconson, where Kerry hung on and won by the skin of his teeth (~11,000 votes vs. the ~118,000 vote margin in Ohio). This is a state where we know there was election fraud and a concerted effort to keep specific classes of voters away from the polls. Except, of course, it was Democratic opertives who were convicted of this fraud and it was Republican voters who were its target.

Swap Wisconsin's ill-gotten 10 electoral votes and Ohio doesn't even matter.
-by Mogui


And just where east of the Hudson River and west of the Huffington Post is the Kennedy name an icon anymore?

Oh, well, at least it keeps Junior off the pork farmers' backs...
-by richard mcenroe


I've noticed that Markos makes much of his status as a veteran, frequently juxtaposing his service against that of the so-called 101st Fighting Keyboarders, Chickenhawks, et cetera.

The chickenhawk argument has been thoroughly discredited. But the 101st Fighting Keyboarders is too good a turn of phrase for them to not use. So I expect Markos will continue to make much of his service., too much, I fear - and I say that as a veteran myself. (USAF, 208x4G, 4 years and a couple months, two tours Osan, honorable discharge, longer than 4 year stint due to extending a short tour overseas and having to have one year stateside)

This is an interview Markos gave to the Boston University alumni mag back in 2004.

The Partisan Bostonia, Fall 2004

The interview covers a wide range of topics, Markos's military service among them.

Markos says in the interview:

“My {Markos's} unit didn’t deploy because the war ended so quickly,” Moulitsas says. “But there is a kind of introspection and self-examination that knowing that you’re about to head out to war forces on you. Our vehicles were in the Gulf; we were ready to go. "
That forms a basis of a lot of my antiwar views, the fact that I was in a position of potentially heading to war.”

Well, then. Basically, like a lot of people who served, Markos graduated from high school and joined the U.S. Army basically to pay for college. He served in the artillery from 1989 to 1992 and narrowly missed being sent to the Middle East during the first Gulf War.

Markos gambled and won, in the sense that he got the educational benefits he wanted to 'escape Chicgo' but didn't have to fulfill that 'war' requirement that lurks in the back of his (and everybody else's) service contract.

There's nothing wrong with that - I chose to go in after high school and use my benefits for both college - but it does shed some light on Markos's subsequent claims about his service.

What's surprising to me is that Markos, given his childhood background of stepping over fresh corpses in the Salvadoran market, was surprised to find that the US Army truck with the big tube shaped thingies that launched multiples of rockets which he was trained to use was there for a reason ... a war reason.

I'd point out gently to Kos that 'swiftboating' is entirely dependent on the veteran being 'swiftboated' making exaggerated claims about his or her military service.

Just sayin'.

See you at the VFW, Markos.
-by BumperStickerist


As always Rick's astute mind boils the issue down, it's the scramble for the top of the pig pile. Markos has acquired power. The Times wants more influence and power and will do anything to get more of it. That includes Kos and Bush. Politics is about two things, money and power. Not necessarily in that order.
-by Beto Ochoa


So the RNC had Diebold blocking telephone calls in NH during the election and this caused global warming?
-by jerry


As for Kos having been a soldier and hence immune to being criticized, the inimitable Ann Coulter points out the flaw in that logic; Benedict Arnold had been a great militry hero to Americans during the Revolution.

Until, he turned and offered his services to the enemy.
-by Patrick R. Sullivan

Patrick,

I'm drawing a finer distinction - Markos's own characterization of his service is changing, it's becoming Kerryified.

By 2008 my bet is we'll be treated to a guy who was stationed in Germany posting about his recollections of his feelings during war and the solidarity he felt with his comrades in arms as the shells came in.

At some point, Markos'll produce a hat.
-by BumperStickerist


Kennedy apparently makes a lot of his argument based on the exit polls. The theory seems to be that they were so far off that something underhanded must have been done by the Republicans.

But of course, the final results were extremely close to the last polls before the election, which showed Bush winning in places like Ohio by something very close to the level he actually won by. But instead of blaming the exit polls, like anyone with any statistical background would, and esp. in view of known attempts by Democrats to game them, he blythely assumes that they were right, and the polls right before the election, as well as the actual election results, were wrong.

Interestingly, it was Cheney who first questioned the exit polls on election night in the White House. He said something to the effect that he had been around politics and polling long enough to know that you can't reach into such early, biased, and incomplete numbers and expect to get anything meaningful out of them. (I can get the exact quote if anyone is interested).
-by Bruce Hayden


The thing I love most about the NYTs Kennedy story is the detail that Larry and Laurie David encouraged Kennedy to look into it.
I love the idea that they are just stewing over what must have happened in the far away land of Ohio, bolstered in their conviction the election was stolen because nobody they know voted for Bush.
-by May Bee

One other possible theory being bandied about as well is that the Clinton political machine that destroyed Howard Dean's chances in 2004 is the one that's trying to crush Kos' chances as kingmaker and significant force in the 2008 elections. Personally I find that a bit unlikely and conspiratorial, I think Dean's demented shriek destroyed his overrated chances in 2004 and that Kos' record demonstrates he's no threat as a kingmaker or predictor of elections.
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1 comment:

Anna Venger said...

"So evidence that the NY Times sloppily mocks lefty blogs is somehow evidence of the Times' liberal bias?

If the NY Times *praised* liberal blogs, that, too, would be evidence of their liberal bias."

Sure. I don't see a problem. That all makes perfect sense to me. :)