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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This makes my brain hurt

Watch for concern trolls

Lieberman, ‘Snakes' and the seductive mythology of the blogosphere

By Bruce Kluger

If ever America needed a wake-up call about the mythology of blogging, we got it this month.

On Aug. 8, Connecticut businessman Ned Lamont defeated U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary, a triumph widely credited to the rah-rah racket produced by pro-Lamont armies stationed along the Internet.

Indeed, the bloggers had scored big. They had helped vault a local politician to national prominence and cemented the Iraq war as Issue No. 1 in the congressional elections. Not a bad day.

But their victory was short-lived. Even before the primary, Lieberman announced that, should he lose, he'd still run in November as an independent. This electoral chutzpah effectively rope-a-doped the bloggers and recharged the senator's fabled Joe-mentum. Lieberman's still the man to beat in the general election.

If this wasn't enough to drain the effervescence from the blogger bubbly, America's noisy Web wags were dealt an even more sobering blow 10 days later when Snakes on a Plane opened nationwide to a decidedly flat $15.3 million box office.

Before its premiere, Snakes had been the latest blogger darling, as swarms of online film geeks prematurely crowned it the summer's big sleeper. This hyperventilating fan base even convinced Snakes' distributor, New Line Cinema, to up the movie's rating to R, to ensure a gorier, more venomous snake fest.

And yet, as the scrambling suits at Lamont headquarters and New Line Cinema now know, it's easy to be seduced by one's own hype, especially when that hype is preceded by a “www.” Now it's time to play catch-up ball. Lamont's handlers will have to face a candidate who will surely try to have it both ways on the campaign trail; New Line will have to sell a boatload of popcorn. That's the way the blog bounces.

As an occasional blogger myself, I'm still wary of the phenomenon. On one hand, it can be liberating to log on and spout off, unencumbered by editorial oversight.

On the other hand, as August 2006 clearly demonstrates, bloggers can just as easily get it wrong. That's worth remembering.

First, everyone expected Lieberman to continue running since he said so and no one has stopped anything regarding his campaign. The fact is that Lieberman's campaign, and I did
not think this possible, has gotten worse since the primary. Lamont didn't win because of blogs, Lamont won because he worked the ground game while Lieberman tried to buy his. Now, Lieberman is still losing ground with voters and hasn't made any sign of building a ground team to actually canvas.

Not that the author here knows that.

The Internet doesn't win campaigns. It can only help them. Lamont is smart enough to take advantage of that while Lieberman isn't. Lieberman is losing ground in the polling and will continue to lose ground.

Snakes on a Plane did better than it would have with a traditional campaign, trust me on that. Without Internet support it would have not opened at number one at the end of the summer.

Lieberman is running a shell campaign without the ground team he needs to have any hope of winning. Watch the next series of polling

posted by Steve @ 5:37:00 PM

5:37:00 PM

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