Chris Bowers at MyDD says that the “right-wing blogosphere” is dead. He must be right because he repeats the claim several times. And John Aravosis agrees with him.
Although Bowers’ oft-repeated conclusion is silly, some of the differences he cites between conservative and left-wing blogs are real. They reflect the fact that conservative blogs have never focused on the avowed goals of blogs like the Daily Kos and MyDD, which Bowers describes as “build[ing] communities of activists and generat[ing] new political activity online.” We have focused instead on providing commentary, especially commentary that rapidly debunks biased reporting by the MSM.
It would be interesting to speculate on why left-wing and conservative blogs have gone in different directions. It may have to do with the fact that the left in this country is so far removed from power. In any event, if the left’s activist blogging model turns out to be advantageous, conservative blogs of the same nature will spring up and prosper.
So far there’s not much evidence that the leftist model is helping the left gain power or influence. Hillary Clinton, the candidate these blogs love to hate, continues to dwarf all other Democrats in the polls. Mark Warner, whom the Daily Kos likes, is a blip on the radar screen. This doesn’t mean that a new Howard Dean won’t emerge. But the old Howard Dean emerged before blogs were a big deal by anyone’s reckoning. The Democrats are capable of flirting with self-destructive behavior without an assist from bloggers, though it’s possible that blogs will provide one. If they do, it won’t represent much of a triumph for them.
Nor has the left-wing blogosphere been successful in pushing its pet stories into the forefront. The liberal MSM has helped drive down President Bush’s approval ratings with its biased and sometimes dishonest reporting from New Orleans, Iraq, and elsewhere. But what have leftist bloggers contributed? The Jeff Gannon story?
Bowers also misses the point when he claims that “there has not been a major successful campaign by right-wing blogosphere for over a year now.” Conservatives writing on the internet were instrumental in causing the Bush administration to withdraw the nomination of Harriet Miers and replace her with a strong judicial conservative. The fact that these conservative writers were people like David Frum and Ramesh Ponnuru more so than traditional bloggers like the Power Line crew is immaterial (except to the extent that one is infatuated, as Bowers and Aravosis are, with the concept of blogging and one’s status as a blogger).
Finally, Bowers is wide of the mark when he cites the fact that Glenn Reynolds and Michelle Malkin produce some material for traditional media outlets. This is just the flip side of Frum and Ponnuru committing blogging. These folks understand that the name of the game is being heard, which means using as many media as possible. Glenn and Michelle hardly bring about their demise as bloggers by writing elsewhere, nor is their decision to write elsewhere evidence of the demise of conservative blogging.
JOHN adds: Michelle was writing in newspapers long before she started blogging, so she has hardly abandoned the on-line medium for the MSM. And Glenn, who is a top-notch legal scholar, has written in law reviews, etc., the traditional media of his profession. But no one imagines that Glenn’s influence was somehow greater before the internet came along, or will expand if he abandons the web and confines himself to the law review circuit.
We, too, were regulars in the MSM before the web came along. We’ve largely given up newspaper and magazine writing in favor of the immediacy and control that having our own site brings.
“Blogging,” really, is a pointless thing to talk about. “Blog” software is just that–software. Who cares? The internet is a medium of great power, whether one is writing on a “blog,” a MSM site like National Review or the Weekly Standard, an op-ed section in a daily newspaper, or whatever. Likewise with the radio, podcasting and television–all media which we use to get the conservative message out.
Having said that, one thing is unique about the blog–its unmediated immediacy. We (and other bloggers) bang these posts out fast, and say what we think, for better or–in the case of the lefty bloggers–worse. Lots of people like that. It’s an intimate medium, and readers get to know the bloggers they read. So, in that respect, there is something unique about the medium. But the important point is that we conservatives are as active and as effective as ever on the web, and in the other media to which we have access.