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Is the Daily Kos About to Implode?
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
By Noel Sheppard
It appears that the post-Yearly Kos month from hell is continuing for Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the proprietor of the Internet's premier liberal blog Daily Kos. After receiving some extremely negative press from major publications such as The New York Times, The New Republic and Newsweek immediately following his seemingly successful bloggers' convention in Las Vegas, Kos is now faced with an even greater challenge: dissension within his ranks.
Such internal squabbling comes at the same time that many prominent Democrats seem to be privately expressing concern about the direction the "netroots" — the self-described Internet grassroots movement of liberal bloggers and their loyal followers — are taking the Party. This seemingly inconvenient planetary alignment is not only threatening the long-term viability of this crusade, but also is putting Kos in an uncomfortable position just as his notoriety is skyrocketing.
As reported here on June 30, revelations about Kos's friend and former business partner Jerome Armstrong — from stock fraud allegations to accepting consulting fees from not so liberal candidates — have cast a cloud over the blog and its leader. This pall has also undermined the stellar relationship Kos has had with the traditional media up to this point.
Yet, maybe more important, these revelations — along with the way Markos and his Kossacks reacted to them — have caused some prominent DKos bloggers to question the behavior of Zuniga and his devotees. Such a civil war within the liberal blogosphere certainly has the potential to further discredit it, while likely making the mainstream media as well as the candidates they revere less apt to associate with this developing train wreck.
The most prominent disgruntlement came in a "diary" written and posted Saturday by Maryscott O'Connor, who describes herself as a "contented and fulfilled ... denizen of the Daily Kos community," and is now the proprietor of My Left Wing, "a spin-off of Daily Kos."
O'Connor, who was actually the subject of a 2,181-word front-page Washington Post article about the liberal blogosphere published in April, began her July 8 diary entitled "Something is Rotten in Blogmark":
"Sometimes I am embarrassed to call myself a member of DKos. This is one of those times. There is a sort of groupthink, Lord of the Flies kind of behaviour at DKos over certain issues that absolutely makes me nauseated," she wrote.
O'Connor was referring to a diary by another Kossack, Richard Silverstein, published at DKos on June 26. It openly addressed some of the issues raised by The New Republic's Jason Zengerle as well as The New York Times' David Brooks.
In short, Silverstein was concerned about the propriety of a blogger accepting funds from a political candidate. His honesty was not well received by the Kossacks, and it appears their response has been eating at O'Connor ever since:
"Increasingly, I have begun to feel intimidated or wary about writing my thoughts and doubts about these issues, lest I be set upon by a pack of Defenders of the Kos," he wrote.
O'Connor then shared her concerns about recent hypocrisies demonstrated by Kos and his devotees.
"I was bowled over when Markos mentioned Paul Hackett in his keynote speech at YKos as an example of the power of the 'netroots' — not least because when Rahm Emanuel et al threw Hackett under the bus, Markos almost immediately declared that while he was loath to say it, Brown stood a far better chance at winning than did Hackett — mostly because Brown had the support of the powers that be in the Democratic Party," she wrote.
Hypocrisy in an organization is an awful thing for a devoted team member to recognize, but even harder to admit. To her credit, O'Connor expanded on another obvious contradiction — Kos's support for the seemingly moderate former governor of Virginia, Mark Warner, implicitly due to Armstrong's consulting arrangement with the presumptive 2008 presidential candidate — while elaborating on the Hackett affair.
"[A]bandoning Hackett, signing on with the candidate anointed by the DLC, seemed in complete contradiction to the ideas and ideals behind Markos's book," she wrote..
Sounds like real world Machiavellian politics have crashed the gates, doesn't it? Yet, O'Connor is not the only Kossack having such doubts. The day before she posted her personal revelations, Richard Silverstein wrote another blog — this one conspicuously not posted at DKos — entitled "Don't Cross the 'Cult of Kos' or You'll Live to Regret It." In it, Silverstein raised a very important question:
"[H]ow does a political blogger who endorses candidates at his site create a transparent environment when he may also be consulting for — or have some other undisclosed relationship with — some of these same candidates?" Silverstein asked
Silverstein also voiced his displeasure with how his June 26 blog on this subject was received by the Kossacks.
"In short, I expected some might not like what I wrote. But I simply wasn't prepared for the onslaught," he said.
After sharing some of the malicious attacks he received in the comments section of his blog, Silverstein addressed how the site's administrators appeared to be participating in the bashing rather than performing their prescribed tasks.
Why are there no stories about the lunacy which is Ass Clown Media? I mean, what about Jeff Goldstein's insane rants, the calls for the death of various members of the media and the Supreme Court? I know Fox has a vested interest in this, but it's bullshit.
First, why do none of these stories point out that Armstrong ran his own site, MyDD until he worked for Warner. He never wrote on Daily Kos, much less was a partner in it. It would be like saying The News Blog influenced Lindsay Beyerstein's opinions on feminism, because Jen and I are friends of hers. Which would be insane. Well, Jerome ran a very different site than DK and MyDD is a very different site today.
You would think Kos and Jerome lived with each other the way people like Zengerle of the fake e-mail writes. They are friends, like I'm friends with people. I'm friendly with Matt Stoller, but I sure as hell write about different things than he does.
Maryscott is a wonderful person, at least in my dealings with her, but she's a bit dramatic. I mean, everything with her is well, definiative. Doesn't make her a bad person, or her concerns unwarranted, but she's not going to start a "civil war" over shit people don't really care about. Daily Kos is about the diaries, not any friendship of Kos's.
If the site didn't implode over the Ohio voting fraud claims, when you had people at each other throats, some story about Jerome Armstrong's past is not exactly relevant to people who have family or like one regular poster, are overseas in combat.
Of course, not mentioning the numerous errors in Zengerle's posts is sloppy.
We didn't mention John Heilemann's sloppy, sad article in New York Magazine, but will note, he was once a respected journalist, writing in Wired and the New Yorker. But he too misses the point that nothing Zengerle or Suellentrop have written has any thing but conjecture behind it.
And the reason poor Richard Silverstein got hammered, despite Maryscott's dramatic post, was that he was repeating things which were simply untrue. Kos gives money to pols, he doesn't take it from them outside ads. He and Atrios have raised nearly a million dollars since 2003 and have not asked for a job or a contract or any kind of payoff which someone directing that kind of cash would expect.
So why pose a question which isn't reflecting reality?
Of course he got hammered and didn't much like it. Because he made a fundamental mistake in what he wrote, a matter which had been discussed openly. And then on his blog, tries to defend himself by saying Kos accepted ads and does he disclose what they cost?
Come on. You go to Blogads and you look up Daily Kos. End of story.
Heilemann writes another piece relying on TNR and this insane idea that Joe Lieberman is in trouble because of bloggers. He quotes Marshall Wittman who was eviscerated, not in the blogs, but by Matt Taibbi in a manner reminiscent of Hunter Thompson.
He also doesn't bother to mention that the DLC is the real root of the problem, as is their failed policies. Getting quotes, lies, from Newt Gingrich, without checking out the reality of them, is just sloppy. Why not ask how much money the Hackett and Busby races cost them? They don't think Daily Kos is a help to them. Ask how Redstate imploded over the King funeral.
The fact is that the right has tried to emulate Daily Kos and has failed badly.
And then the accusation that Kos reacted to "blind fury" at the nearly libelous and unproven allegations that he was taking payoffs from Mark Warner, or slanting posts because of Armstong's client. Which wasn't true. He was upset a falsehood was being spread by Jason Zengerle with no reporting. He then arrogantly suggests that using stolen e-mails, unconfirmed stolen e-mails, one of which was forged, was acceptable. Then has to churlishly apologize when caught, still pretending that the profitable Kos, who's costs run between $6-8K a month, and has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians, is hitting up a pol for a couple of grand a month?
Come on, the man just bought a new house. You think three grand from Mark Warner makes a difference to him?
As to the idea of a "civil war", Daily Kos is only one of 50 popular liberal sites, all run differently. If people tire of Daily Kos, they can go to Democrats.com or Democratic Underground. The media fixates on DK, because they're lazy, too lazy to interview people and get the real story of how bloggers and real world activists are coming together. They did in OH-2, CA-50 and now the Lamont run.
All a blog can do is direct money to a candidate. It takes a good team on the ground to make a run. As far as Lieberman goes? As Harold Meyerson wrote, Lieberman is out of step with his consituents, which matters more than offending the all wise and powerful Kos
posted by Steve @ 12:11:00 AM