The evolution of the liberal blog community is pretty interesting stuff. It's hardly a coherent movement, but I believe that Imus' troubles, for example, would be nonexistent if not for liberal bloggers. Alberto Gonzales wouldn't be feverishly preparing for his testimony before Congress next week if not for Josh Marshall and his blog media empire. There would have been no counter to the spin about Pelosi's trip to Syria, with the truth of things - that Olmert's spokesperson talked about their message to Syria before
the trip took place, that Pelosi had Republicans and State Department officials with her on the trip - these things would have been buried in all the nonsense. I'm not sure that even Ann Coulter's f-bomb would have received very much attention if not for this strange collection of liberals/progressives yakking away on the internet.
Lately there's been some talk about A-list bloggers, and then B- and so on from there. Aside from Kos and Atrios I have no idea who these A-listers are. Maybe they're the only ones. Anyway, what's interesting about them is how unsophisticated they are, which makes for quite a bit of cognitive dissonance. We've got the whole Dark Lord Kos storyline, wherein Kos maintains a strict control over the majority of liberal blogs, using his key Lieutenants, Duncan Black and the Stoller/Bowers/Armstrong hivemind. At the same time, Kos, Black and S/B/A are seen as bumbling, stumbling dummies who are in way over their heads and who hurt our cause. They are also, apparently, extremely jealous of their position and ruthlessly stomp on smaller blogs that obviously have all that's required to make the big time if not for the conspiracy against them.
I think the truth of it is that these guys are, in some respects, in over their heads. The last thing anyone wants Kos to do is blog about feminism or GLBT issues. I don't think he's a bad guy on these, but he certainly doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. Duncan has a bad habit of taking things personally and putting up defensive reactions on Eschaton. The S/B/A hivemind, for some reason, really
pisses off armchair Democratic consultants who, by all appearances, never actually do anything with their vast wisdom and knowledge except carp at those who do.
But if Kos and his minions were actually slick, long-time professionals, they wouldn't have the traffic they do. It's precisely because these guys - and yes, I know, it's just guys
- have the propensity to stick their foot in it that people keep going back, because we know that what we're reading is the real deal, and not some prepackaged spin that's been slow-cooked in some committee of consultants.
I will admit that it can be hard to be so charitable, however, when Kos has a post like this one
about death threats. Apparently death threats received over email just aren't that big of a deal. For Kos, it's just a bunch of weirdos, and he excerpts an email to prove his point:
AIDS will be killing more amd more of you liberals every year. We conservatives have all the money, and you will be shining our shoes. You will stay in your minimum wage jobs. You are poor. We are rich. We get to travel. You don't. You have to scrape for tips. How about that 2000 election? Nigger Cochran couldn't save you. Is it true that "liberal" means "small penis" in Esperanto? Republicans will hold the Presidency until 2029 at least. You think you have power with Dago Pelosi, but you work for us. We let you "win" an election here and there just to fool you. Pretty cool how the Taliban would let stone walls fall on homosexuals. That is what will happen to liberals. God does not love liberals. That is why he gave you AIDS. Let's hope more gays and liberals get beaten up. From your genetic superior.
It is pretty ridiculous. But no less ridiculous are these statements from Kos:
Look, if you blog, and blog about controversial shit, you'll get idiotic emails. Most of the time, said "death threats" don't even exist -- evidenced by the fact that the crying bloggers and journalists always fail to produce said "death threats". I suspect many are like this gem I recently received. . . .Some might say that the line "AIDS will be killing more amd more of you liberals every year" and the "stone wall" thing are "death threats". They are not. They're just the rantings of a lunatic. For my part, I've gotten my fair share of such vile emails. Some of them have threatened my children. One or two actually crossed the line into "death threat" territory. But so what? It's not as if those cowards will actually act on their threats.
The "crying blogger" that inspired this post is Kathy Sierra
, who has been victim to some very serious attacks and has received many death threats. Of course, Amanda Marcotte
, Melissa McEwan
, Jessica Valenti
, and Jill Filipovic
can also attest to online abuse. Ms. Filipovic, in particular, can demonstrate that law students, at least, actually do act out their online threats in the real world, following those they abuse in online fora to their real-world classes and gyms.
By the way, notice anything about that list? Any similarities that the bloggers all share in distinction from Kos? Perhaps it is true that Kos' emailers will never act out their threats to him and his children - though I hope his post is bluster and privately he's taking this seriously. But the experience of women bloggers is entirely different than his experience as a man. And to characterize people like Kathy Sierra as "crying bloggers" is insulting and incredibly stupid. As much as I think Kos' relative lack of political sophistication is an asset, there are a few areas in which he could stand to learn a few things.