The Liberal Blogosphere, Greenwald, And MSM Attention

Glenn Greenwald is wondering why the liberal blogosphere gets a lot of negative attention from the MSM while the right-wing blogosphere is largely ignored. He points to “a long list” (8 examples) compiled by Media Matters that allegedly is indicative of the “violence-inciting rhetoric and hate-mongering which has become a staple of the right-wing blogosphere.”

I’m not going to go through Greenwald’s entire argument point-by-point because, honestly, it won’t matter. I’m never going to convince him that what offends him doesn’t. That being said, I didn’t follow all of the links Greenwald provides to support his argument, however, the ones that I did were hardly offensive to my sensibilities. For example, Greenwald writes, “What sentiments motivate publication by Michelle Malkin of some of the most disturbing and hateful propaganda posters which can be imagined?” Follow the links. In my mind, anti-New York Times photo-shops hardly raise to the level of “some of the most disturbing and hateful propaganda posters which can be imagined.” I think that category is reserved for terrorist snuff videos such as the one where Nick Berg’s head is removed from his body. But that’s my opinion.

The other point I’d like to make about Greenwald’s post is his reference to John Dean’s new book which, as I understand it, basically argues that modern conservatives blindly follow President Bush because–according to some study Dean sites in the book–conservatives have more authoritarian personalities and, thus, are more inclined to be lemmings that follow powerful leader.

Greenwald writes:

John Dean’s superb new book, Conservatives Without Conscience (which has been #1 on Amazon for most of the week), analyzes the transformation of American “conservatism” from a political ideology based on the imperatives of limiting government power into a movement predominated by authoritarian impulses and personalities — a transformation I have also written about extensively. On his book tour, Dean — who spent his life as such a mainstream Republican that he worked in the highest levels of the Nixon White House — has been observing that his political views have really not changed over the past 30 years, but he now finds himself accused by pro-Bush conservatives of standing on the “left” side of the political spectrum.

That is because the political spectrum itself has shifted radically, and the movement which now most loudly describes itself as “conservative” bears little resemblance to the political movement of which Dean, for his entire life, considered himself a part. As its leading bloggers vividly illustrate, pro-Bush “conservatism” is a highly authoritarian movement which seeks to vest unlimited and unrestrained power in their Leader, views garden-variety political dissent as blasphemy and treason, and glorifies violence as a justifiable tool to achieve their glorious political ends. The standard language and argumentation of these pro-Bush bloggers reflect those attributes on a daily basis, which is why it is long past time for some journalistic examinations of what is being said and done by pro-Bush blogs.

Yes, it’s a highly authoritarian movement–except in the case of port management, Supreme Court nominations, and immigration reform. Give. Me. A. Break. The notion that the right-wing blogosphere blindly follows President Bush is laughable. In fact, the right-wing blogosphere has initiated a number of the President’s most difficult political battles.

So, getting back to Greenwald’s question of why the liberal blogosphere gets more negative attention from the MSM, I would say it’s because people in the MSM probably believe that it warrants it. I don’t think for a moment that anyone in the MSM is trying to protect Glenn Reynolds or Michelle Malkin. If either wrote something that rose to the level of Kos’ “screw them” comment, it would probably be all over the MSM much like Coulter’s 9/11 widow comments. The liberal blogosphere’s reputation is also not helped by the utter lack of attention paid to Islamic extremism. For a recent example, here’s what Kos wrote today on the situation in the Middle East. It’s not exactly inspired.

UPDATE (James Joyner): I would note, too, that there’s something of an apples vs. oranges comparison going on here. As Chris Bowers and others on the Left have persuasively argued, the Leftosphere is much more communitarian than the Rightosphere. There simply isn’t a Righty blog that has the level of influence on the Republican Party that Daily Kos has on the Democratic Party. There isn’t an InstaPundit Annual Convention attended by the party bigwigs, George W. Bush doesn’t guest post at Michelle Malkin’s, and so forth.

The closest thing the Right has to Kos is RedState which, indeed, was founded with the goal of counterbalancing DKos. While it is indeed a highly successful enterprise, it’s not only nowhere near as powerful as its inspiration but not even among the most read Righty blogs.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Media, Middle East, Supreme Court, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Greg Tinti
About Greg Tinti
Greg started the blog The Political Pit Bull in August 2005. He was OTB's Breaking News Editor from June through August 2006 before deciding to return to his own blog. His blogging career eventually ended altogether. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from The George Washington University,


  1. After the “Townhouse” list thing, you’d think Glenn would be at least a little embarrassed to trot out the “authoritarian personality” trope.

  2. Len says:

    For a recent example, here�s what Kos wrote today on the situation in the Middle East. It�s not exactly inspired.

    Perhaps you could give us an “inspired” thesis on the situation in the Middle East? How about a thousand words or so on the origins of and reasons for Islamic extremism?

    I’ll look forward to it.

  3. Greg Tinti says:

    Perhaps “inspired” was the wrong word. It gives the general impression that kos couldn’t care less which side wins and both are equally at fault for the beginnings of this conflict.

  4. Len says:

    It may well be that that is the way Kos feels, Greg. Last I checked, he is as entitled to his beliefs as you or I.

  5. Greg Tinti says:

    He is sure is, Len. But the fact that he’s the king of the liberal blogosphere and doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about the outcome of the current crisis in the Middle East speaks volumes. And, by the way, I’m not trying to pick on Kos. All the other major liberal blogs seem equally indifferent.

  6. MSM says:

    Dittos Rush

  7. Greg, respectfully, if you haven’t found anything disturbing in the right wing blogosphere, you’re not looking very hard. Just yesterday, at least five prominent conservative blogs wrote posts alleging (in all seriousness) that the NY Times is actively working to aid and abet America’s enemies. The Michelle Malkins of the world honestly believe that the NY Times is in league with Al Qaeda and they call repeatedly for the prosecution (and in Misha’s case, the execution)of the paper’s journalists and editors. If that’s not totally unhinged, what is?

    What on the major lefty blogs compares to that? Yes, Kos once made an unfortunate comment about the American contractors in Falluja. And he was called out for it by many of his fellow lefty bloggers and immediately retracted it. The Malkin/Powerline group never retracts anything. Even when they’re dead wrong (remember the Rumsfeld photo story?) or flat out homocidal (lynching Supreme Court justices). No one apologizes. No one retracts. And no on the right polices their own wackos (Instapundit sits on his hands or even links to this insanity).

  8. Greg,

    I have to agree with Kos, for probably the first time in my life. I do want a specific side to win, and do think that side has more moral authority (the Israelis, if you haven’t guessed). However, this strikes me as the most intractable conflict ever.

    I want Israel to win, and consider them head and shoulders above their opponents, but the path to a solution eludes me, as it does most everyone else.

  9. Len says:

    Careful there, Greg… your bias is showing. 😉

    All the other major liberal blogs seem equally indifferent.

    There are very few “conservative” blogs that I enjoy reading. This has been one. Please don’t turn it into another Michelle Malkin – whose only purpose in life is to prove how nasty, ignorant and stinky liberals are.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    Be patient. Print and broadcast journalists will get around to the right blogosphere soon enough. As the right blogosphere gets more involved with the real power structures in the Republican party (presumably) they’ll be seen as worthier targets.

    The biggest left blogosphere blogs are closely linked to real power already.

  11. Greg Tinti says:


    Of course I have seen things in the right-wing blogosphere that I find disturbing. But nothing comes to mind from a prominent conservative blogger that I remember being completely inappropriate and therefore worth banning them from the blogs that I link to and take seriously.

    You give the example of Michelle Malkin and the New York Times’ recent printing of a photo showing a sniper aiming at US troops with a caption that read, in part, “incredible courage” on the part of the photographer. I find that disgusting and I think it’s worth raising a stink over. I think if you were to ask MM, she would not argue that the NYT actually wants terrorists to win but that the paper is so anti-Bush and anti-Iraq war that its printing things that are adverse to the safety of Americans both at home and abroad.

    In terms of calling for prosecution, I think it’s part of the discussion that is ongoing about what should happen to people that reveal classified information (the SWIFT program) that could harm the US government’s efforts to fight the war on terror. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I feel that regardless of whether the President is a Republican or a Democrat, I want classified anti-terror programs to remain classified. I don’t think it’s a wise move to start prosecuting newspapers and reporters that reveal information unless it’s in the extreme, but some do and that’s part of the debate. I don’t consider that unhinged.

    I disagree with you that right-wing bloggers don’t police each other. I think that they do–for instance, there were many, such as myself, that spoke out against Ann Coulter’s 9/11 widow comments as well as Ben Domenech once it was revealed what he had done.

    I think I covered all your points. As I said in another response, I am not trying to pick on Kos. And Len, just look at the prominent liberal blogs today and see how much posting was done on the situation in the Middle East compared to the prominent right-wing blogs. The difference is stark. I’m not trying to be inflammatory but rather just stating an observation. If you have evidence to the contrary, let’s see it. I’d be glad to admit I’m wrong.

  12. vnjagvet says:

    So what happens if you just think that John Dean is full of it?

  13. anjin-san says:

    So the “MSM” is completely full of it, except when they criticize Democrats or “the left”, whatever the hell that is.

    (I voted for Reagan twice and get called things like “far left moonbat” by some OTB posters).

    I guess the MSM has credibility with the GOP on this one issue…

  14. steve says:

    “The Malkin/Powerline group never retracts anything.”

    In fairness, that’s not true. I recall MM retracting
    something she’s written in her book about the internment in WWII.
    Sorry can’t recall the details.

    But about Powerline, I have personal knowledge of a
    retraction since I prompted it. During the campaign,
    John Kerry spoke about his deer-hunting experiences
    on Cape Cod. PL hooted at the possibility of this, but
    a short google search showed that there is, indeed,
    deer-hunting on the Cape. I emailed them and pointed
    out the google results. They immediately fessed up to
    the error.

    Of course, these concerned matters of fact that
    couldn’t be denied. I not aware of any instance
    where MM/Pl have said, “Gee, that thing we wrote
    the other day was over the top, sorry.”

  15. “(I voted for Reagan twice and get called things like �far left moonbat� by some OTB posters).”

    That your political views a quarter of a century ago do not correlate with your current political views is not particularly surprising.

    Then again, I doubt there are many people who could have voted in 1980 or 1984 willing to admit they voted for either Carter or Mondale… never mind that millions did.

  16. Bithead says:

    Republican Party that Daily Kos has on the Democratic Party.

    There are several reasons behind this. However, they all start with the idea that the Democrats at the moment are not in power.

  17. Mark says:


    Your comments re: the lefty blogosphere not covering the crisis in the Middle East like their right-wing brethren is a bit of a red hearing. Sites like Kos are about politics, not policy. What could Kos say that would make Democrats more likely to win the next election. Nothing? Than why bother?

    However, there are plenty of very prominent sites that have covered the crisis extensively (Steve Clemons, for instance).

    Some sites are news aggregators, some are community organizers, some are a nice little mix. Please compare apples with apples.