The Most Popular and Important Force in the Blogosphere
Many would argue that Glenn Reynolds’ InstaPundit is the most noteworthy of all weblogs. The BlogFather has been around since long before “blog” was a household word and bloggers around the world yearn for his linkage. While all that’s true, Dean Barnett argues at the Weekly Standard that, “by almost any measure” The Daily Kos‘ Markos Moulitsas is “the most successful blogger in the business.” It gets double InstaPundit’s traffic and has much more impact on the political scene. I’d note, too, that Kos sells more ads and at higher prices.
Kos also walks a different beat than his conservative counterparts. Most popular conservative bloggers (like InstaPundit, Power Line, and Roger Simon) use their blogs as a platform to discuss not only their political views but anything else that catches their fancy. For instance, Power Line might devote 500 words to celebrating Riche Haven’s birthday or Reynolds might devote half an afternoon to digital photography or nanotechnology. While all of these gentleman are supporters of George W. Bush, none are activists–at least not on their blogs. The prototypical conservative blogger offers political commentary, but that’s where his mission ends. Kos outwardly and unambiguously defines his role differently. He has proudly assumed the task of getting Democrats elected and never denies that he is an activist, not an objective commentator. He has built the Daily Kos community to further that activism with painstaking care.
I’d note that Kos differs from most lefty bloggers in this regard, too. Whatever one might think of the content, DailyKos is much more narrowly focused site than any other “big” blog. In most cases, that guarantees a small readership “niche blog.”
Ten months ago Kos’s ascendancy seemed hardly pre-ordained. On April 1, 2004, Kos responded to the savage murder of four American contractors in Falluja by writing, “I feel nothing over the death of the mercenaries [sic]. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.”
At the time of this outburst, Kos was using his blog as a platform to create advertising revenue and to establish credibility for a political consulting business. His outburst threatened to destroy the budding project.
Immediately Kos’ foils in the conservative blogosphere demanded that the politicians who advertised on Daily Kos remove their ads and disassociate themselves from both the site and its proprietor. One of the first to heed this call was Texas Democrat Martin Frost. His campaign noted its departure from Kos’s site by saying, “There is no place for these disgusting remarks in this nation’s discussion on foreign policy.” Other campaigns followed the Frost campaign’s lead and it seemed like Kos might have been in trouble. But then something funny happened. While politicians distanced themselves from the site, Kos’s fans stayed put. A quick glance at Kos’s traffic figures for April of 2004 shows no drop-off in the wake of Moulitsas’ controversial comments. And since the eyeballs remained, politicians soon returned. Political advertisers who had left were replaced in short order by other office seekers. At first it seemed the entire affair might ruin Kos; in the end it was, as he put it in an interview with the New York Times, nothing more than a “blip.”
Quite right. And, as Barnett observes later, DKos played a not insignificant part in derailing Frost’s run for the DNC Chairmanship and helping Howard Dean sew it up despite huge opposition from the party Establishment.
The whole piece is worth a read, as is a follow-up analysis on SoxBlog.