into the 2004 election cycle, just about everyone said the
Internet was going to change politics. But no one was sure
how. Now we know.
first signs of change came from the Howard Dean campaign.
His campaign manager, Joe Trippi, used the Internet, and
meetup.com and moveon.org to identify and bring together
Bush-haters from all over the country, and raise far more
money than anyone expected.
rose to the top in the polls and amassed an e-mail list
of 600,000 names. When Democratic voters dropped Dean as
unelectable and embraced John Kerry as the most readily
available instrument to beat George W. Bush, Kerry inherited
Dean's Internet constituency. No one expected the Kerry
campaign to raise more money than the Bush campaign. But
it did, largely because of the Internet.
Democratic Internet constituency was and is motivated by
one thing more than anything else: hatred of George W. Bush.
To see that, you only have to take a look at dailykos.com,
run by Democratic consultant Markos Moulitsas, which gets
400,000 page views a day -- far more than any other political
weblog -- and which received funding from the Dean campaign
(which Moulitsas disclosed). It seethes with hatred of Bush,
constantly attacks Republicans and excoriates Democrats
who don't oppose Bush root and branch.
four American contractors were killed in Iraq in April 2004,
dailykos.com wrote: "I feel nothing over the death of the
mercenaries. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw
repulsive comment produced no drop-off in page views. This
was what the left blogosphere wanted. Kos was an early enthusiast
for Dean's campaign for Democratic chairman and disparaged
12 years, Democratic chairmen were chosen by Bill Clinton.
He built a new generation of fund-raisers who relished contact
with the Clintons. Now, the big money comes from the left
blogosphere and Bush-hating billionaires like George Soros.
Dean gives them what they want.
Dean says, "I hate the Republicans and everything that they
stand for." Hate. But Bush hatred was not enough to beat
Bush in 2004 -- Democratic turnout was up, but Republican
turnout was up more -- and doesn't seem likely to beat Republicans
in 2006 and 2008. The left blogosphere has driven the Democrats
into an electoral cul de sac.
Bush campaign, quietly, used the Internet to build an e-mail
list of 7.5 million names and a corps of 1.4 million volunteers,
who produced more new votes than the Democrats. But the
right blogosphere was different from the left. There was
no one dominant website and no one orthodoxy.
Reynolds, the University of Tennessee law professor whose
instapundit.com gets 200,000 page hits a day, supports Bush
on Iraq but disagrees with him on abortion, stem-cell research
and same- sex marriage. The focus of hatred in the right
blogosphere is not Kerry or the Democrats, but what these
bloggers call Mainstream Media, or (MSM). They argue, correctly
in my view, that The New York Times, CBS News and others
distorted the news in an attempt to defeat Bush in 2004.
right blogosphere's greatest triumph came after CBS's Dan
Rather on Sept. 8 reported that Bush had shirked duty in
the National Guard and the network posted its 1972-dated
documents on the Web.
four hours, a blogger on freerepublic.com pointed out that
they looked as though they had were created on Microsoft
Word; the next morning, Scott Johnson of powerlineblog.com
relayed the comment and asked for expert views. Charles
Johnson of littlegreenfootballs.com showed that the documents
exactly matched one he produced using default settings on
Microsoft Word. CBS defended the documents for 11 days,
but finally confessed error and eased Rather out as anchor.
MSM tried to defeat Bush, but succeeded only in discrediting
itself. The Pew Center's post-election poll showed a sharp
decline in the credibility of newspapers and broadcast TV,
and a sharp increase in reliance on cable news, especially
Fox News, and radio.
what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere
has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere
has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries
in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans.
2005 US News & World Report
Distributed by Creators Syndicate
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