Blogs: Balancing the Conservative Media
Markos Moulitsas, a/k/a Kos, uses the first installment of his weekly column for the London Guardian explaining how blogs like his are saving the world from the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy:
It was the year 2000, and Democrats were running on a record of peace and prosperity stewarded by the capable, if morally imperfect, Bill Clinton. It was a race that should have been won by their candidate, Al Gore. In fact, it was won by Al Gore, but the Rightwing Noise Machine kept it close enough to be stolen by the Republicans and their allies at the supreme court.
A truly amazing number of lies and distortions for one, short paragraph.
What is the Rightwing Noise Machine? Conservatives in the United States have spent the last 30 years building a vast infrastructure designed to create ideas, distribute them, and sell them to the American public. It spans multiple think tanks and a well-oiled message machine that has a stranglehold on American discourse. From the Weekly Standard, Rush Limbaugh, Wall Street Journal, Drudge Report and Murdoch’s Fox News, to (more recently) the mindless drones in the rightwing blogosphere, the right enjoys the ability to control entire news cycles, holding them hostage for entire elections.
Indeed. It’s a wonder that there are no newspapers of greater significance than WSJ that espouse a leftist viewpoint. (Other than the NYT, WaPo, and LAT.) And, certainly, there are no liberal think tanks of any note. (Aside from Brookings and a dozen or so others.) Goodness knows, every paper put out by Heritage or Cato is immediately trumpeted in the mainstream press as if it were the gospel truth.
It’s true that Limbaugh and Drudge are without comparable rivals on the Left. Fox News is doing quite well considering that it started way behind CNN, not to mention the three broadcast networks that predated it by half a century. But I would argue that these venues are successful precisely because they are giving voice to news that would otherwise be ignored. Rather clearly, there is a vast segment of American society that feels that the elite institutions of society are working against their values–and it’s not the Left. That no liberal talk shows have had anything like the success of Limbaugh (or even Sean Hannity, Gordon Liddy, Laura Ingraham, Glen Beck, etc.) certainly isn’t because there are no people on the Left with the talent to pull of a show–Hollywood is full of them.
Liberal groups are fighting back, working to build a parallel infrastructure. My blog DailyKos.com receives 350-400,000 visits every day – double that of FoxNews.com and comparable to the Guardian’s print run. Daily Kos and other bloggers like Atrios, MyDD, TalkLeft, and Juan Cole have become a liberal counterweight to the mainstream media and the Rightwing Noise Machine. We don’t have parity, but we’re working on it. [numerous hyperlinks omitted]
Kos labels those who basically agree with him but make an effort to maintain a professional demeanor as apolitical as the “mainstream media.” Most on the Right would disagree. It’s no accident that most of the early successes in the blogosphere came from the conservative-libertarian side of the spectrum. It’s the same reason that talk radio and other alternative media outlets were dominated by the Right: one doesn’t need an alternative outlet if you’re already dominating the dominant one.
(Hat tip: Kevin Drum)