Glenn and Digby discuss the meltdown of PB1.0
Since there are no bookmarks for me to link you to the relevant section, I hope Glenn will forgive me for fair-using a large section (with any objections from him or Digby, I'll trim this down to a smaller citation).
The relevant section appears below the fold:
GG: ... Now, one of the things I want to ask you, and we're running out of time, but I do want to touch on this a little bit, is, you were, you know, around in the blogosphere in, very active first as a commenter for, you know, at Atrios's blog, and then your own blog, you know, leading into and part of the 2004 election, whereas I was just kind of a distant observer then, not paying all that close attention to what blogs you were doing as part of the election.
But I have paid a lot closer attention this time around for obvious reasons, and what's surprised me a little bit, during the primary, was that - you know, for me the value of blogs is when blogs fill the roles are being unfulfilled by the establishment political media institutions. The more, the greater the uniqueness is of what we do, the greater the impact is. The more we sort of replicate what the political, the already existing political and media institutions are already doing, the less of an impact we'll have.
And I felt like during the primary season, the net roots had very little impact on either the media narrative or the course of political events, because by and large the functions that they performed were just duplicating what, you know, media outlets were already performing, and the political campaigns were already performing: cheering for one candidate, hating another, you know, embracing whatever narratives help their candidate, attacking the ones that undermine their candidate, regardless of whether they were true or false.
Do you think that's true, is that different than what it was like in 2004? And what do you think the role is that bloggers can play, if anything, in terms of having an impact in the general election?
D: Well, I think - I really like your definition of what bloggers should do, sort of filling this unfilled void out there. I think that's something that most bloggers should think about; they should try and put that into practice when they're thinking about what to write about and how to write about it. I mean, at least those who are, you know, sort of seriously committed to being, you know, progressive bloggers.
2004 was a preview of this, and it was, the problem was, that the primary was really truncated. Kerry ran away with it, and, but up to that point, there had been some pretty, it was building into a intra-party spat among what was the net roots then, which was a much smaller community than it is now. and certainly much less, I don't know, institutional in nature. We were, you know, all just hobbyists essentially at that time. But it was a preview, I mean, there was, you know, this Dean, Clark, Kerry, you know, people getting nasty overnight, people turning into complete freaks overnight, you know. Yeah, the same thing.
And I think that in a weird way it set up an expectation among people who didn't have a lot of experience with politics, you know, maybe younger people or people who sort of came into politics later in life. But that's how primaries work. So you had a short little fight for a couple of months before the primary started, and then the primaries would start and it would be over. The idea of long, drawn-out primary was really, you know, completely surprising to a lot of people and angering, like, you're not allowed to do this. The truth is that primaries have often been long, and this one was quite close by historical standards, I mean, it was really was, and there was a lot of passion involved. So, I think that the blogosphere, it was a sign of political immaturity that what happened this time, and I hopefully that experience will lead people to look at it differently. I assume, I'm assuming Obama will win and we won't have to look at this for another eight years but, you know, an open primary is an unusual...
GG: That would actually be the best, come to think of it, that's one of the best reasons to rout for Obama, is so that one doesn't have to be subjected a primary war for another eight years.
D: They're always miserable, Glenn. I mean, I've hated them my whole life, you know - not easy. mean, 1980 was a nightmare. You know, the whole Gary Hart experience, you know, heart-breaking, Jesse Jackson in the 80s, you know, this stuff this not, this intra-party fighting is really one of those things that's most difficult things — you're fighting with your friends, right? I mean this isn't..
GG: Over very little, over very little of real significance.
D: It's rarely over something, you know, major and, you know, and just, it's a family fight and you know how those are — they get really, really vicious, and people know...
D: ...exactly how to, where to stick the knife in to really make it hurt so, you know, it's a dare(?) unpleasant. I don't people really got that. I shouldn't say people - plenty of people did, but there those who didn't. So the blogosphere I think kind of lost its way.
And I think the main way that it lost its way was in failing to, you know, as a progressive movement and as the net roots specifically and this online, you know, group of writers and readers in, you know, trying to use some leverage that we did have in these primaries, to, you know, extract certain promises or loyalty from the candidates. I think we failed to do that and I think it was a missed opportunity, because now we're sort of flailing around, you know. What can we say? We didn't ask anything...
GG: Right, we're captive, you're captive, right.
D: But the other thing is I think we dropped the media critique, and I think that was huge mistake, because, this, I truly believe, and it's not just because, you know, one of my main beats in the blogosphere, I really think it's true, that this critique of the media and the way that they do things, this is at the heart of our problem in American politics today, and we're one of the few, you know, quasi-institutions to take that on, from the outside, and be able to exert some pressure against it. And it's not much, but it's something, and it can have an effect over time. And I think it was a big mistake for bloggers to turn a blind eye to some of the things that happened in the campaign on both candidates.
GG: Or not even to turn a blind eye, but even worse than that, to start embracing terrific media figures who were horrific before and are going to be horrific again, whoever they perceived happened to be helping their particular candidate. I mean, you would see the most lavish praise being heaped on, you know, people on CNN and ABC and MSNBC who are completely integrated in the entire rotting media structure...
GG: ...and part of the problem in every single way, because the had to, whatever they, whatever, you know, gossip they were passing on, or crap were disseminating, and because it was helping one or the other candidate, instead of constantly pushing back against that process and undermining it the way the blogs have been doing, you know, I think fairly successfully over the past four years. They not only turned a blind eye to it, they started openly embracing it, you know, this reporter is brilliant, and thank God for this station, they're the only ones who are speaking the truth. You know, Fox News or MSNBC or whatever it was, you know, suddenly bloggers became, you know, and the Politico became not only the most cited source, but some of the time the most approved source.
D: Oh, absolutely.
GG: Yeah, or even Drudge. So the complete reversal I thought was a little alarming, and I think you're right, I think that it's a by-product of that temporary situation. One wonders whether it will really be long lasting or if bloggers can sort of revert back to what they had doing before that, that was having, you know, a least relatively speaking, the greatest impact.
D: Yeah, well, I mean, I think I already see, you know, people - you know, there's a definite sense of people coming back down to Earth a little bit. And, you know, nothing that you and I have discussed before together, you know, nothing radicalizes you more than the right wing attacking. So it, you know,...
D: ...people tend to get a little more clear eyed about things once they see what happens with the right wing and how that affects whoever the liberal or progressive candidate is.
So, you know, I see it, I see them coming back down to Earth. We haven't had any real post-mortems on this, and I don't think we will until after the election, and we're moving into a new phase where Democrats are going to be in power and, as you know, with our mutual projects and other projects that we're doing, that presents a whole new set of kind of assumptions we're going to be making about to affect politics. And so we're in a period of transition trying to figure out how to be something more than just oppositional.
But the media critique remains the same. I absolutely...
GG: Yeah, constant.
D: ...believe that that is not something that should ever be sacrificed on the altar of politics, because it will just never work in our favor. These are huge corporate entities, the political establishment is a small sort of provincial village of people who all know each other, and all reinforce each other's prejudices and it's never going to rebound to our favor as liberals, it's just not; and we have to, you know, that's an essentially, definitionally conservative sort of institution...
GG: System. Yeah, and cult, yeah, absolutely.
D: ...doesn't work for us, and so we our jobs should really be — whatever we're doing politically, whatever tacks we decide to take, oppose or support politicians in various issue and what have you — that particular thing should remain constant. I think it's a big mistake to let that go. And I'm hoping, you see, there's a danger here, you know, Obama's going to be president, hopefully, knock on wood, and we're going to see a different media environment, and I'm hoping that we keep a clear eye on that because, you know, that is easily manipulated in ways that we may not see coming.
I watched Bill Clinton, you know, he had a very successful convention in 1992, and coming out of a weird campaign with Ross Perot, and, you know, the economy was in the dirt, and you know, Clinton had been revealed to be a womanizer and blah, blah, blah. And he came out of that convention like a shot. I mean it was a real, very, very powerfully well done event and the press was in love with him through the end of the election. They really were. I mean, he, whatever problems they've had with him before, sure there was some little gossipy things, but in some ways they actually helped Clinton. You know, his womanizing kind of made him seem more interesting and more baby-boomer and more generational change and what have you.
And, you know, the minute he got into office the press turned in a huge way, almost on a dime, and the right wing was ready there. And it wasn't just the right wing, it was also the conservative members of the Democratic party.
GG: Absolutely. Yeah, and that's, you know, I think, you know, any movement that wants to be new, and to have a purpose, needs to conceive of itself as outside of the establishment, and oppositional to it first and foremost. And whatever benefits can be derived from the establishment almost coincidentally, you know, are secondary at most. And, I think that's one of the most important things to keep in mind.