According to Stephen Green, who posts more while we sleep than most bloggers do all day, everyone is going to be linking to this James Lileks piece. I’d considered not linking it just to be contrarian, but it’s pretty good. Indeed, I’d link Lileks more often if he pinged weblogs.

Update (1207): John Hawkins offers his own take on the op-ed that inspired Lileks.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Matthew says:

    Shrug. I’ll be contrarian (for real) and say today’s Bleat is pretty boring, though perhaps this is a case of transmitted dullness; the article Lileks is quasi-Fisking struck me as a pointless memo masquerading as a useless opinion piece.

  2. John Lemon says:

    I hate to burst your contrarian bubble, but I agree. I really failed to see the point of the bleat (which is probably why he calls his blogging “The Bleat.”) He seems to overplay the social significance of bloggers.

    Here was my reaction after finishing the piece.

    I dunno. I remember when pundits were claiming that the Internet would eliminate “bricks ‘n mortar” businesses.

  3. Paul says:

    To me Lileks either hits it out the park or he strikes out. This one did not impress me. The Hill author made many valid points.

    Lileks went off half cocked. Rush is a monster in a much broader medium.

    The WHOLE blogosphere combined does not reach the number of people Rush reaches in a single decent sized city.

    Rush (I’m sure) gets more hits to his website than all 2 million bloggers COMBINED!

    Will the blogosphere ever keep up? I doubt it. Radio is “spoon-fed” to you and blogs are work. The facts of life dictate spoon-fed wins.

  4. James Joyner says:

    This wasn’t as good as, say, Lilek’s piece yesterday on the gay bishop.

    Still, his point is worth noting. I don’t doubt that Rush is more popular than bloggers, but Maxim is probably more popular than the Economist. Rush is fun and sometimes a good political analyst. The combined information and analysis of the blogosphere is, however, radically more useful.

  5. Paul says:

    The gay bishop piece was a grand slam.

    But I think people are confusing metrics.

    If people want to use the metric of what medium has more info or has the info easier to find, then obviously bloggers (being on the net) win.

    The Hill author mentioned “influence” on America or at least political commentary. If that is the metric, Rush wins by multiple orders of magnitude.

    A buddy of mine is a heavy equipment operator. He often asks me, “Hey, did you hear Rush yesterday?” I’ve never once had him ask me “Hey did you read Little Green Footballs yesterday?”

  6. James Joyner says:

    Sure. But heavy equipment operators don’t read WaPo, NYT, Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs…..

    Bloggers–or, a handful of the really good ones, anyway–probably have more influence over opinion leaders than Rush.

  7. Paul says:

    James- Not even close.

    Dem pols all the time whine that Rush gives out their phone numbers (even though he does not) because when he mentions something they get flooded with calls. You ever hear them complain about bloggers that way?

    I had a friend working in John Breaux’s office. Once when Breaux screwed up (and admited he gooofed later) they got something like 10,000 phone calls in a single day from Rush mentioning it. The fact that Rush covered the story made the local paper and radio cover it.

    Ya think all the bloggers COMBINED could generate 10,000 phone calls in a single day?

    Sorry but 10 ~ 20 guys with websites that get ~100,000 hits a day COMBINED can’t come close to 20-50 million listeners.


    Sorry, but by every statistical measure we have, mostly the blogosphere is still talking to itself.

  8. James Joyner says:

    But did those phone calls change anything?

    “The Bachelor” is more popular than “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” More people get their news from ComedyCentral than NPR. Which is more influential on policymakers?

  9. Matthew says:

    Is a “contrarian bubble” like an Internet bubble? 🙂

  10. Paul says:

    Yeah- Breaux did a mea culpa and changed his mind. (Hillarycare)

    I tell ya what… Their is a built in empirical measure we both can use. Advertising.

    In advertising, people rent the influence of the media and pay for it proportinatly.

    At the end of this election cycle, total up all the campain sales from Rush’s show on all the local stations and then total up the sales from the advertising on all the blogs combined.

    Compare the two numbers and we will know which has a bigger impact on American politics.

    Wanna wager a percentage?


    If a Congressmen could choose between Rush flaming him to 20-50 million listeners or the blogosphere flaming him to 100,000 readers, which would he pick?

    If you keep making arguments like this James, You are going to have to change the name to “INSIDE the Beltway.” 😉

  11. James Joyner says:


    We’re going ’round and ’round on this. We’re talking about different things: mass versus elite opinion.

    By and large, Congressmen ignore phone and mail avalanches caused by call-in shows and the like. They’re meaningless and unrepresentative.

    I’d wager that Tom Friedman is more influential on elite opinion than Rush Limbaugh, just as Foreign Affairs is more influential than People. People has more readers and charges more for advertising; it’s not particularly important.

  12. Paul says:

    hmmm… consider this…

    It ain’t just radio. There is one website that has had CONSIDERABLE more impact on politics than all the blogs combined.

    It is universially accpeted that Dean would be down with Al Sharpton if not for (er

    If Dean wins the domination a seriously strong argument could me made that got him there. If he wins in November, they picked the Pres.

    You think Dean would trade that impact for a few kind words from Glenn Reynolds and company?


  13. James Joyner says:

    I’d never heard of until the poll that made Dean the “frontrunner.” His own websites, via which he collected a ton of contributions, is what made him frontrunner, not Moveon. The poll would otherwise be meaningless, given its self-selected nature.

  14. Paul says:

    (I tired to cheat and reply twice 😉 you slipped inbetween)

    We’re going ’round and ’round on this. We’re talking about different things: mass versus elite opinion.

    Ok you can change the metric AGAIN.

    I don’t doubt Friedmanis more influential INSIDE the beltway. That was not the question.

    When you are talking impact on American politics “The next big thing” as The Hill author put it ain’t Friedman either.

    The blogosphere’s claim to political fame is Trent Lott. They wave it around like they did it single handedly. I guess Chris Matthews doing 7 shows in a row on it had no impact. It was all the bloggers.

    My local talk radio station did it for 8 work days. CNN/LAT/NYT/ etc etc etc all jumped on him with both feet yet the bloggers think they influnced the world by themselves.

    That kind of thinking is just diluted.



  15. Paul says:

    I’d never heard of until the poll that made Dean the “frontrunner.

    Maybe you ain’t “elite” enough. 😉

    The WaPo called it “the closely watched online “primary” organized by”

    They started to get people to “move on” from impeachment.

    Heck, even my bulldozer buddy knows what is… But then he heard it on Rush.


    BTW- They had 317,647 mail in votes cast or roughly the same number of VISITORS the top 1000 political opinion blogs had COMBINED that same day. That is what put Dean on the map. That was early enough that Kucinich was still importnat.

  16. James Joyner says:

    But now much of that vote total was a function of the Dean campaign organizing it?

  17. Paul says:

    That is not the question….

    He won the primary and that made the WaPo. (et al)

    If the top 100 bloggers all universialy endorsed him would the WaPo give a shit?

    James- Revist your own post.

    The blogosphere is still mostly a group of guys talking among themselves. The top 1000 blogs combined, with world wide, 24 hour distribution, get less visitors than Rush has listeners JUST IN CHICAGO in a 3 hour window.

    Comparing the impact of the 2 is folly.


    It is not that I am “Pro-Rush” or “anit-blog.” — I’m just “Pro-Math.”

    I genuinely  don’t see how anyone that can count can even make the argument. (IMO of course.)

  18. James Joyner says:


    Bloggers make WaPo constantly. Hell, *I’ve* been mentioned in WaPo.

    Neither Lileks nor I say that bloggers have more readers than Rush has listeners. Or even that we have more influence on the masses than Rush.

    Lileks basically makes two arguments:

    1. There’s a ton more info on the blogs than on Rush. That’s sheer numbers–lots of bloggers, unlimited time. That means the ability to fan the flames on many more issues. Some will get picked up and gain the attention of the more popular media, including talk radio and television.

    2. Bloggers are much more diverse than talk radio. Rush is incredibly mainstream. By his own admission, Rush just basically tells people what they already think–he’s the voice of the common man. He says what they already believe in an articulate, humorous way. That’s what makes him so popular.

  19. Paul says:


    That is all well and good. But neither of those 2 points have anything to do with the original piece.

    If that is the response to the artice then it is a non sequitur at best.

    Dr. Hill’s central point was clear…

    “I doubt that blogging or any specific bloggers will match Limbaugh’s record-setting pace for gathering influence in the political process”

    Proving that blogs have a different feature set does not disprove his point.

  20. John Lemon says:

    I don’t like the “Rush is Maxim, bloggers are the Economist” analogy (followed later by further analogies to The Bachelor/Comedy Central vs. Lehrer/NPR ). Some of us bloggers are trying our very best to be filthy, low-brow and filled with sexy models!

    Also, this may be a conversation ender. There is no blogger that can ever hope to make the salary that Rush makes on just blogging alone. He wins.

  21. John Lemon says:

    Whoa! Rush just mentioned this piece that Lileks links to. Is that a weird convergence or what? What if bloggers start getting mentioned on Rush?

  22. James Joyner says:


    True on the cash. But, again, a different argument.

    And, sure, most blogs suck. And even some of the non-sucky blogs are just citrus-named guys using the F-word a lot. But there is a lot of good stuff out there, too!

  23. Paul says:

    What if bloggers start getting mentioned on Rush?

    Don’t worry John, Rush will always mention himself. 😉

  24. John Lemon says:

    As will us bloggers. Rush just defined a blogger as a nerd with a journalist degree who spends all day and night writing emails to himself. 😮