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Comments by YACCS
Friday, March 18, 2005

We will be included

Liberal bloggers storm Brookings Institute

An Open Letter To Liberal Bloggers,

Matt Stoller and I are very concerned about how Democratic bloggers are being consistently under-represented in the mainstream media and in academic settings. By being segmented away from these forums, we are effectively pushed out of the discourse of opinion-leaders. The result is that conventional wisdom is boiled down to statements like 'Everyone thought that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq' or 'Everyone thought there would be surpluses before Bush's tax cuts'. Conventional wisdom is made largely without our input, which is dangerous and unfair.

What has really irritated us in recent days was this post over at Digby's place:

about an upcoming event at The Brookings Institution. There are no liberals on the panel. And there are no liberals who will be live-blogging the event - in fact, all live-bloggers are right-of-center, two are even Republican operatives”Josh Trevino and Ed Morrisey.

This is a serious problem, and while we don't mean to pick on Brookings specifically, nor do we wish Brookings to disinvite anyone the example presented here is especially egregious. There are other serious issues with diversity in media, but the lack of diversity in political opinions is at least as problematic as any of them.

We'd like to correct this, starting with the panel at the Brookings Institute. Brookings went so far as to mislead a reader of Digby's saying that the following bloggers had been invited to site on the panel but declined: Juan Cole, Kevin Drum, Kos, Atrios, Matthew Yglesias, Bill Scher and Chris Bowers.

This is what one of Digby's readers wrote to the Brookings Institution:

"The upcoming conference on the impact of the new media should be interesting. It could be far more valuable with more substantive representation from the blogging community. Your choice of bloggers to represent the vast blogging environment seems unnecessarily limited: the left right balance is particularly off. Wonkette is funny, snarky, and cuts through a lot of BS, while Andy Sullivan is much more serious, thoughtful, and delves into much deeper topics. (Oh, by the way, Andy has said he "quit" blogging - I guess he didn't mention that.)

"There are far better choices of bloggers from the left who could balance Andrew Sullivan and give a more serious tone to the discussion - these are off the top of my head: DailyKos, Americablog (much involved in the Gannon/Guckert controversy, and he's in DC!), Juan Cole (Iraq expert), Digby at Hullabaloo, Atrios, Chris Bowers of MyDD, Political Animal from Washington Monthly, Matt Yglesias from Tapped, Bill Scher of LiberalOasis, and I could go on.

"A left/right balance is great - we on the left all accept the challenge of presenting our ideas within a formidable debate. Wonkette won't do that: she will get some twitters from the audience, but this discussion should have a little higher purpose."

Mr. Gavin replied:

"We attempted to get many of the bloggers you mentioned, but they were unavailable. Between Andrew and Ana, and the live-bloggers--as well as some of the other panelists--I think our event will make for a full and informative roundtable discussion. Hope you can make it or tune in via the webcast."

This week Sean-Paul tried to contact all of the bloggers asking them if they had indeed been invited to SIT on the panel. Six of the eight bloggers in question replied that they had not, in fact, been invited to sit on the panel. The other two were unavailable for comment. Only one said he had been invited, and that was only to live-blog the event. Yesterday, March 17, Sean-Paul called Patrick Gavin at the Brookings and asked him if he invited those same bloggers he said that he had, in his own reply. After much hemming and hawing Mr. Gavin said he had indeed invited many liberal bloggers to sit on the panel but was unsure which ones. After more question he could name only two: Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and Joshua Micah Marshall.

This situation is simply unacceptable. We must push back on this or we will never achieve any semblance of balance in the media. If we do not we abdicate our ability to tell our own side of the story and leave it to others to define us. Please call Patrick Gavin at the Brookings institution and politely insist that they include a real liberal blogger at their event. Here are the numbers: 202-797-6310, or 202-797-6105.

We'd like you to post a link to this letter and your own comments on your blog if possible and help us out.


Matt Stoller and Sean-Paul Kelley

In the interest of full disclosure, Matt and I are on the BlogPAC board and we have all discussed this via e-mail.

OK, let's see, Kos is getting over some hellish illness he caught in Puerto Rico and his wife was dealing with a family crisis, information he
and Josh Marshall is getting married also information he published.

I call bullshit.

I know many of you don't think this is a big deal. The panels suck, TV sucks, who cares who does it.

Well, if they're gonna have a sitdown, we're gonna sit at the table, even if we have to knock the legs off the fucking table first.

Remember when people laughed at the Christian Coalition while they took over state parties? They're cranks, they won't win. Well, while we were laughing, they were winning.

I feel bad that it's been beat up on Wonkette time. I do not have a grudge against her, but it's about effectiveness. If we want to demand the DLC shut up because they lose, how in good conscience can we let her go on these shows and get waxed by the plutocrats at Powerline and Instacracker. She wants a book deal? Cool. Let her have one. It's a lot less glamorous than you would think, believe me. She wants to be on TV, fine. But not as a liberal blogger.

This is the second time in three months this has happened. First Harvard, now this.

When Grant took over the Union Army, he was asked what he would do to stop Lee. He said, simply, "Whereever Lee goes, I shall follow." Well, where ever Instacracker goes, I want someone there to nail his ass. Being on Air America is great, but that's just expanding the choir. We need to have the same respect, be in the same places, pressing them on their bullshit and challenging them. Every time they get to speak freely, we lose. Every time they get the imprimatur of respect, we lose. Unless we are there, side by side, no matter how much work we do, we will be deemed second rate. To defend our ideas, we have to be in a forum to defend them.

How effective can this be?

When Al Franken went after Bill O'Reilly, he made him look like a fool. He stood up to him and O'Reilly never recovered from that. You think that woman would have gotten a judgment if O'Reilly hadn't been softened up by Franken? We need to take these people on, in public, and hammer them with no mercy.

We have the numbers, we have the influence. Name a GOP site which has raised $100K for a candidate? Name one with a thriving, active community, one which actually does things. Kos gets more hits than Instapundit and is the heart of online activism, with a hundred different voices speaking out.

Instacracker doesn't even have comments.

The right blogosphere relies on hype and media support to pretend they're doing more than being Bush's lackies. We have a media which thinks fairness is having a liar on with a historian. We cannot become complacent and wash our hands of the media. We must engage it and use it to our advantage We don't have to like the rules, but we better play the game or they will play it without us.

Update: We're trying to get Melanie Mattson included on the panel, so please continue to call and e-mail. Why? Because unlike Wonkette, she'll make us look good and will only giggle when tickled. An unlikely event at the Brookings Institute.

posted by Steve @ 4:05:00 PM

4:05:00 PM

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