Michael “TNR” Crowley has an interesting squib in the NYT magazine about conservative blogs.
When the liberal activist Matt Stoller was running a blog for the Democrat Jon Corzine’s 2005 campaign for governor, he saw the power of the conservative blogosphere firsthand. Shortly before the election, a conservative Web site claimed that politically damaging information about Corzine was about to surface in the media. It didn’t. But New Jersey talk-radio shock jocks quoted the online speculation, inflicting public-relations damage on Corzine anyway.
For space reasons Crowley doesn’t get specific, but I think I know what he’s talking about. Two weeks before the election, the anonymous blog enlighten-nj posted this bit of intrigue.
Enlighten-NewJersey has learned that something big is about to happen, and when it hits; itâ€™ll make Jim McGreevey look like a Cub Scout compared to Jon Corzine.
This damaging revelation is well known by key political insiders in New Jersey, the Corzine camp knows itâ€™s coming and is waiting for the other shoe to drop. The New York Times, the New York Post, the Bergen Record, and the Star Ledger are all running down leads in the story. This story could break wide open any day. Itâ€™s not a question of if, but when.
What could make Corzine into the next McGreevey? Our source says, â€œStay tuned.â€
This is so groundless it’s laughable – it sounds like the parody of the Homeland Security alert system on “American Dad,” where code orange means “Something could go down somewhere somehow in some way at some time.” But while we can’t resurrect radio shows that aired after the blog post, we can see other blogs – and they went nuts. If you read these posts, you glipse one factor Crowley left out – conservatives, still more than liberals, don’t trust the mainstream media (“MSM”) and are willing to believe if they read something on a blog but don’t hear it anywhere else, it’s because the media is covering it up. (From Newsbusters: “Whether or not the story is true, the MSM’s silence is significant. Had this story related to a Republican, every morning talk show would be speculating about it.”)
If I can explain this without getting too far out onto a limb, this is merely the latest example of something that has really disappointed me about blogs. I started reading blogs in 2001, and if you look to then, or even to 2002, blogs weren’t very involved in the to-fro battles of politics. (Daily Kos’s 2002 election roundup is stirring proof, and unimaginable now.) There were sharp divisions over the Iraq war before it started, but I don’t think blogs divided into right-left camps until late in 2003, when the war started going sour and Howard Dean became the Democratic frontrunner. And they really formed their camps once John Kerry became the Democratic nominee, around March of 2004. Now the liberal blogs weren’t trading blows about their favored candidates. Now the conservative blogs weren’t dividing their fire between Democrats or clearing their throats to note how, well, maybe they could vote for Lieberman. It became an all-out war and it hasn’t stopped. As I’ve written elsewhere, the story of blogs since then has been a left-right space race with one each side trying to become a better, more technologically advanced house organ for its party.
But what really makes conservatives effective is their pre-existing media infrastructure, composed of local and national talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, the Fox News Channel and sensationalist say-anything outlets like the Drudge Report – all of which are quick to pass on the latest tidbit from the blogosphere.
It’s more than that. The hosts don’t simply pass stuff on. Many bloggers write this stuff and pitch it to the hosts, in hopes of enlisting themselves in the news cycle or the greater cause. Perfect example in the form of Lt Smash. On Wednesday he decided to wage war against Howard Dean for his comments on the war, so he churned out a five-part “mission” encouraging readers to write letters to newspapers, contact their congressmen, etc. Right as he was posting the details …
UPDATE (5:12PM PST): I’m currently on hold for Hugh Hewitt…
Success! I got on the air, and got the word out. Thanks, Hugh!
And this is the direction blogs are heading in. Woo-ee.