June 16, 2005

Help! Help! I'm Being Oppressed!

I've been wondering what, if anything, to make of this article by Chris Bowers about the rise in traffic on liberal blogs in relation to conservative ones over the past couple years. Bowers contends that this is a function of a stagnant, top-down conservative/libertarian blog hierarchy that stifles rising voices, as opposed to the more "community"-oriented liberal sites like KoS, Atrios and so on.

I've two gut reactions to Bowers' thesis. The first is a natural recoil from the scolding, "If you haven't brought enough bandwidth for everyone, then you shouldn't be blogging" tone of his piece, coupled with a smile at the thought that someone else has noticed how eeeeeevil the Puppy Blender really is, holding all of us small-fry in veritable serfdom.

The second is to note the relative influence of the right and left sides of the Blogsphere over this time frame. The conservative/libertarian side has brought about NYTimes-Gate, Memo-Gate, the Swifties and other stories which have had, so far as I can tell, a serious impact on the course of the national debate, arguably winning Dubya's reelection. All of these stories, as I recollect, were cracked first by second, third and fourth tier blogs, thus demonstrating not the smothering of conservative/libertarian voices, but rather the depth of the Right's bench. On the other hand, the most important impact the Liberal side has had so far is to bring about the rise of Howard Dean. That's a trade I'd take any day, even if it means I have to wear shackles.

Yips! to Jonathan Last over at Galley Slaves, who's been chewing on this comparison as well. He's right that the article is a more in-depth analysis than the usual Hive vs. Herd comparison, but in the end I'm not that sure it doesn't boil down to just that after all.

UPDATE: More thoughts from James Joyner, the PoliPundit, Mark in Mexico and Obsidian Wings.

UPDATE DEUX: Joe at Cadillac Tight muses on the inherent activist nature of the Left as a possible explanation of the success of "community" blogging there. This is similar to Jonathan Last's thoughts appended to the post I originally linked. I suppose it's also a perfectly valid question whether the numbers would change were the Dems in power instead of the GOP and, if so, by how much.

UPDATE TROIS: Arguing With Signposts has some excellent comments on the whole business.

UPDATE, Uh, Le FOUR: Kevin at Wizbang takes a look at Bowers' methodology and finds some flaws.

Posted by Robert at June 16, 2005 09:16 AM

We're top down? How many of us are paid by billionaires or their agents?

Glenn built his site on merit -- he discusses the big topical things, and has become a clearinghouse for debate. But it's not like he's on Richard Mellon Scaife's payroll -- unlike a few lib sites I could name that would close up shop if they weren't funded by George Soros and his henchman David Brock. And it's not as if Glenn issues us our orders on what to blog about -- otherwise I'd surely know a lot more about digital cameras than I do. Most of the conservative sites I read are independent efforts -- labors of love. The exception to this is The Corner, which is the web-based face of a magazine -- Derbyshire, K-Lo, Jonah, etc., are yes, in the pay of William F. Buckley. But even the Corner is hardly monolithic -- consider K-Lo vs. Derbyshire on the Schiavo case.

The left side of the blogosphere, to me, uses its echo chambers and cocoons (Kos, DU, etc.) far more that the conservative side (I've never posted on Townhall or Free Republic); these are the oxygen tents of the debate. Healthy bloggers do not need constant reinforcement, oxygen tents, or a billionaire's money in order to function.

Posted by: The Colossus at June 16, 2005 10:03 AM

Second tier?!!

** sob **

And Glenn Reynolds is an enabler, not a stifler.

Posted by: Bill from INDC at June 16, 2005 10:26 AM

"...the depth of the Right's bench..."

Perfect metaphor. Thanks.

Walter Williams gave permission for me to put up his amnesty. It's wonderfully tongue-in-cheek:

The Gordian Knot Has Been Cut

Posted by: dymphna at June 16, 2005 10:34 AM

I would like to point out that the left blogs may be getting its first -gate in the Downing Street Memo (now memos). These documents have been aggressively ignored by the so-called liberal press, but have a very active life on the left blogs and could pose a real problem for both Bush and Blair (Tony already took a huge hit because of them). A steady increase in traffic on the left blogs may simply reflect a real frustration with conventional media that increasingly tows the government and corporate lines and a desire to find alternatives anywhere else. There would be less pressure for those on the right to seek out the blogs (although they clearly do) as traditional media can provide more of the desired news content (really). The community idea only plays on traditional stereotypes of the left and right and I don't put a lot of stock in it.

Posted by: LB buddy at June 16, 2005 02:30 PM

[Gratuitous Monty Python quote] Aha! Now we see the violence inherent in the system! [end Gratuitous Monty Python quote]

But seriously, you have to expect this sort of thing from leftists. They enter the fray utterly convinced that they're morally and intellectually superior to us benighted ones -- literally creatures from a higher plane of evolution. Yet they've been losing the battle for popular opinion for some twenty-five years at the least. Given their pretensions, what else could they blame their failures on but repression by a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?

If I were a Republican strategist, I'd be paying folks like Kos, Atrios, Oliver Willis, et alii. They've done and are doing more for the cause of conservative and libertarian opinion in America than all of us on the Right put together.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at June 16, 2005 05:09 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?