"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (Karl Popper)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Either with Kos or against him

Markos Moulitsas, of The Daily Kos, is something of a high priest of left-wing blogging in the States. I don't read his blog, but I'm aware of the readership he attracts from a recent poll on his sight, which overwhelmingly favoured Russ Feingold as candidate for the Democrats in 2008. Senator Feingold is one of the most unreconstructed left-wing members of the Senate, probably of the entire Congress. Moulitsas is similar in outlook. All of which would lead one to guess that the latter might be a keen reader of the The New Republic. Well, perhaps he was, but not anymore. In a remarkable outburst yesterday, he lashed out at the magazine for, basically, investigating the dealings (mostly the financial dealings) of left-wing politicians and bloggers:
"The New Republic betrayed, once again, that it seeks to destroy the new people-powered movement for the sake of its Lieberman-worshipping neocon owners; that it stands with the National Review and wingnutoshpere in their opposition to grassroots Democrats. . . .TNR and its enablers are feeling the heat of their own irrelevance and this is how they fight it--by undermining the progressive movement. [TNR's Jason] Zengerle has made common cause with the wingnutosphere, using the laughable "kosola" frame they created and emailing his "scoops" to them for links. This is what the once-proud New Republic has evolved into--just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy. If you still hold a subscription to that magazine, it really is time to call it quits. If you see it
in a magazine rack, you might as well move it behind the National Review or even NewsMax, since that's who they want to be associated with these days."

As a general rule, anyone who uses the phrase "vast right (or left) wing conspiracy" sans irony is to be avoided. For people like Moulitsas, it seems, if you're not (all the time, unquestionably) with us, you're against us.


Anonymous Tom said...

'If you're not with us, you're against us' is, as far as i can tell, the battle cry of most pundits in the US, and is used far more by Republicans than democrats. Of course, that attitude was started in a White House that had no interest in cross party discussions or listening to any opinion but their own.

Kos also made the point, at the start of the article, that much of what was quoted in the National Review article was off the record stuff, intended as discussion points within a private group.

Kos also has had problems and issues with the magazine for a long time, as he sees it as supporting democrats who tow the Republican line, such as Joe Liberman, who recently was the first person to speak out against Democratic Party legislation on the Iraq war, before even republicans had a chance to attack it. Liberman has also been endorsed by right-wing 'pundits' like Ann Coulter (who believes that the September 11th widows are milking their loss to gain celebrity status) and Bill O'Reilly.

Kos, for all his faults, has managed to energise a lot of people in the states who felt unrepresented in US politics. He has helped energise the grass roots of the democratic party and has shone a constant light on the dark corners of corruption in the highest levels of the Republican party.

He has also provided a valuable counter-balance to the right-wing domination of pundit based talk shows and radio broadcasts, and together with other left-wing blogs and commentators, has started to bring a more balanced approach to the pundit class.

Of course, people who talk about conspiracies and the like probably have more time on their hands than is good for them. It is true to say that the right-wing stole a march on the democratic party in the nineties with their targeting of the talk-show. They were able to constanly hammer home their message, their talking points and their point of view, with little or no democratic party input.

From the point of view of a commited democrat, it could look like their was a media conspiracy, but in reality, the right was more organised, better prepared and better funded. People like Kos and the work he is doing through his website are helping to reverse this trend and bring different voices to the attention of the American public.

Fri Jun 23, 03:58:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Karole said...

Well I think "a White House that had no interest in cross party discussions or listening to any opinion but their own" is an unnecessarily polemical statement and a clear exaggeration. Not that I'm a White House spokesman; your argument just seems undermined by making such a loose point.

I'm not aware of Kos' history with The New Republic. But three cheers for the New Republic if it supports Lieberman over Iraq. Also your connection of Lieberman with Coulter and O'Reilly (for whom I have little regard) is a little tendentious.

I'm quite sure you're right when you say that the Right stole a march on its opponents for many years as regards use of the media. I'm also quite sure you're right about Kos' role in grassroots U.S. politics. I wasn't really commenting on either phenomenon necessarily, just pointing out his rather strange language, and hinting at an irony that someone on the left wing of U.S. politics has adopted such a bunker mentality that can only be descirbed as "with us or against us", which, as you say, has usually been associated with George W. Bush.

Fri Jun 23, 04:48:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Simon said...

tom bill o'reilly also endorses ethanol instead of oil. Does that make him wrong?

Fri Jun 23, 09:16:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous EWI said...

Moulitsas is similar in outlook. All of which would lead one to guess that the latter might be a keen reader of the The New Republic. Well, perhaps he was, but not anymore.

The fact that you are apparently blissfully unaware of the longstanding tensions between leftwing bloggers (such as Atrios and Kos) and the Democratcic establishment is a fairly damning flaw in your post. This is not to say that I approve of Kos (personally, I can't stand him), but to advise you to perhaps pay a little closer attention to Democratic internal politics than you seem to be doing.

Sat Jun 24, 11:37:00 AM GMT+1  
Anonymous tom said...


I don't agree about the point regarding Coulter and O'Reily. These two are regarded as right wing commentators, Coulter in particular. The fact that they are supporting Liberman, along with the National Review, only enhances the view that many democratic party bloggers have of the publication, that it is not interested in promoting what they see as the agenda of the democratic party.

And Simon, a stopped watch is right at least twice a day, but i don't think you can argue that Bill O'reilly is anything other than a right-wing pundit supporting the republican party, so you can drag up some comments that he has made in order to make him look 'fair and balanced' in his coverage, but he is not. And you can reference the point I made above to see why he was mentioned in the first place.

www.mediamatters.org, a website with a democratic leaning, has focused on the pundit shows in the US in order to show the dominance that the right-wing has, and it has focused on O'Reilly quite a bit. Check it out if you want to get a look at how he conducts his show.

Mon Jun 26, 09:59:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger Karole said...

Tom, I'm aware of how O'Reilly and Coulter. I also know that they're "right-wing commentators". I still have no time for them; they're shrill, irksome and more interested in controversy than anything else. I don't really pay attention to them.

I also haven't paid much attention, as EWI correctly specualtes, to internal squabbles within the left-wing pro-Democrat U.S. blog-world. But the point behind my psot was a modest one, relating only to the style of argument employed by Kos. It can stand independent of my knowledge or otherwise of previous arguments Kos has had. Although you're narrow point is right that I wouldn't have written the sentence you quote if I had been aware of the history involved.

Tue Jun 27, 12:31:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Karole said...

I meant to say I'm aware of how O'Reilly conducts his show.

Tue Jun 27, 12:32:00 PM GMT+1  

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