s skippy the bush kangaroo: hello, blog kettle? this is the weekly standard pot, and guess what color you are...

skippy the bush kangaroo



Saturday, June 17, 2006

hello, blog kettle? this is the weekly standard pot, and guess what color you are...

we read with interest manwithoutacountry's diary on booman tribune about an op-ed piece by dean barnett of the weekly standard (available at cbs.com).

titled "blogging in bad company" (no, we don't get it, either), the standard piece's main premise seems to be that the left side of blogtopia (y!wctp!) has peaked in influence, readership, and all-around need to be talked about. manwithoutacountry rightfully points out that the weekly standard, edited by bill kristol and fred barnes, is no friend of progressives, and so you should probably take the piece with a pound of salt.

dean barnett opens his op-ed with an analysis and reiteration of the busby/bilbray race in california 50, as if bilbray's loss is proof that the progressive blogs have no power. putting aside the questionable vote counting, and even the slim margin (about 4,000 votes) of bilbray's victory, we might maintain that forcing the repubbbs to spend effort and money in a district that should have been a shoe-in for them is victory enough.

but what gets our goat (and we want mr. whiskers back! our back forty needs grazing!) is the third paragraph in which barnett trots out the meme that refuses to die:

depending on how you count, the progressive blogosphere's won/loss record in competitive races between the parties hovers somewhere around 0-20.
sigh. that thing was old when we wrote wonkette about not repeating this lie. it was indeed already beginning to smell when we pointed out (on his first day) ben domenech's inability to actually use facts in his really really really short tenure at the washpost.

(we're tired of reminding everyone that the dailykos endorsed sens. obama and salazar, reps. herseth and chandler, gov. kaine (all currently serving), as well as tester in the montana primary. bookmark this g*dd*m post, so you can have access to links to proof. and leave us alone! we're grumpy!)

of course, barnett equivocates the way only a weekly standard repubbbli can, by adding the nonsensical qualifier, "depending on how you count."

depending on how we count? what does that mean? if we count in base two? if we count using states (one mississippi, two mississippi...)? the only way which one can arrive at zero percent is to limit the parameters to "if you exclusively consider dkos-endorsed candidates that have lost, then kos is 0 for 20."

maybe barnett thinks the "competitive races" modifer can give him leave to grind the dkos record into non-existence. but we have to ask, is stephanie herseth, is ken salazar, is tim kaine not competitive? we suppose that all depends on what your definition of "competitive" (and "is") is.

but that's the least of barnett's problems with ignoring facts. he goes on to conclude:

the conventional wisdom is that blogs are a growing force with unlimited potential. but there is a dirty little secret: the blogosphere's growth has flat-lined, and in many cases shrunk. last october, the daily kos had approximately 23 million visitors. by last month, the number had sunk to 16 million. the decline was gradual and sustained. kos' virtual progressive ranks, at least, are not growing.

the same trend is in evidence nearly everywhere else in the blogosphere, too. the second-most influential left-wing web site, atrios, now averages fewer visitors than it did eight months ago and there is no data indicating the readership of conservative blogs is growing, either.

this suggests that the blogosphere is already a mature medium and that its rapid growth phase is now past. and there is nothing to indicate that this relatively young dog is about to learn any new tricks.
we concede that both dkos and atrios are not getting as many hits as they were 8 months ago. neither is instapundit. neither is booman, or the left coaster, or the next hurrah, or (sadly) skippy the bush kangaroo. all of those sites, and we bet many others, saw a huge and abnormal spike in traffic during the months of september/october 2005. it's almost as if some levees broke somewhere, flooding the internets with readers desperate for news about some important national event.

sarcasm aside, we'd respectfully suggest that using sept./oct.05 (and the resulting katrina traffic) as a bellweather is obviously a way to skew results towards the loss column. but barnett also fails to consider that liberal readers may be diversifying their blog preferences.

sure, atrios and dkos pull readers into the internets, but, as both of them have large and gracious rolls which link to many different blogs (including ours; thanks, guys!) we would posit that progressives are going to other blogs, not leaving blogtopia (y!wctp!) altogether.

firedoglake doesn't fit barnett's premise. my left wing doesn't fit the premise. neither does hullabaloo. neither does the mahablog. man egee, a new blog for primarily latino issues, doesn't fit the premise. we couldn't find sitemeters for glenn greenwald or the huffpo, but we'd be willing to bet that they don't fit, either.

face it, there are only so many smart people in the u.s. to begin with, so a valley in a sitemeter year graph for one or two sites doesn't necessarily spell doom for progressive blogging as a whole.

but, naturally, like all good repubbblicans, barnett extrapolates conditions for a single case (or two) into a generalization that painst a dire picture for a whole class of people. damn those illegals, er, we mean, progressive bloggers!

then barnett wraps up his little snit-fest with the years old whine that markos once offered to engage in sexual intercourse with blackwater, inc:

the progressive blogosphere is noted for its "passionate" means of expression, typified by moulitsas who, after the murder of four american military contractors in falujah, wrote, "i feel nothing over the death of mercenaries. they aren't in iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make iraq a better place. they are there to wage war for profit. screw them."

at some point, politicians who flock to bloggers who talk this way will be asked if they're aware of the kind of company they're keeping. and, if so, how they justify keeping it.
oh yes, how can anyone justify associating with someone who dislikes war for profit, as opposed to the level-headed right, which only advocates internment for muslims and screeching about the emotional exploitation of widowhood?

but finally, and this is our favorite point about the whole piece, remember that barnett wrote this op-ed originally for the weekly standard. manwithoutacountry points out, in the comments section of his diary, that people confuse blog page views with influence. ergo, barnett sees a lowering of traffic numbers as a lowering of influence, which does not necessarily follow.

now, the standard has a circulation of maybe 60,000 on a good day (sorry, good week. it ain't the daily standard). we will not try to dispute the standard's influence. we, in fact, would concede that the standard still might have more influence than all of progressive blogtopia, no matter who coined the phrase.

but for pure unadulterated numbers, we would wager real money that the boys down in the ad sales dept. at the standard would kill for a readership figure like dkos, or booman, or even skippy has.

addendum: gavin reports that sadly, no! also has increased, rather than decreased, readership numbers since last summer.
posted by skippy at 8:39 PM |

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