Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Reeds and Brass Have Been Weaving

Often people, usually in the course of needing to explain the almighty power of blogs to people who don't get it, want to describe blogs in terms of specific tangible successful events. You know, "blogs took down Trent Lott," and whatnot. And while there are certainly occasions where I think blogs have played a very important and clear role in defining and shaping events, I always think it's wrong to focus on those events as what's really important about the blogosphere.

Left of center blogs filled various connected vacuums which were created by a triangulating-against-itself-Democratic party, a media with a "no liberals on TV or radio" rule, and the post-9/11 media prostration to the Bush administration and its complete abdication of its responsibility with respect to the Iraq war, all of which followed its campaign 2000 prostration to the Bush candidacy. Overall what blogs have been able to do is create an unfolding political narrative which has been largely absent elsewhere. Sometimes it's about emphasizing different things, sometimes it's about combating DC conventional wisdom, sometimes it's about highlighting things which are being ignored. But taken all together it's about telling the story of politics in a different way.

While there are other elements - fundraising, various types of activism, etc... - day to day the power of the blogosphere is that it offers up a competing version of political reality, in opposition to the Russert/Matthews/Dowd version and in opposition to the Limbaugh/Hannity/Fox News/Heritage Foundation version.

I remember years ago I'd know exactly when the few compelling liberal voices would have their moments. I knew when Joe Conason's column would hit the NY Observer, when Paul Krugman's column would hit the NYT, when Michelangelo Signorile's column would hit the New York Press. There were so few of them, voices in the wilderness, and there weren't enough to sustain a narrative.

As Greenwald suggests,
things have changed and are changing. The narrative can be sustained, and it can find its way elsewhere into the media bloodstream. It isn't just blogs, of course, but they're an important part.

Here's Bill Moyers chatting with Josh Marshall. And Bill Moyers chatting with Jon Stewart.