Of course I'm liberal, I believe in liberty.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Partisanship: Blogs Vs. Mainstream Editorials

Kevin Drum reads Radley Balko's comment that normally independent blogs "fell into line in order to get their man elected" this election season and responds:
That doesn't seem very remarkable to me. In fact, I would have found it remarkable if it hadn't happened.

There's a point to be made here about the "independent" blogosphere, too. Namely that it's anything but. In fact, the political blogosphere is far more partisan than any organ of the mainstream media, more partisan than most op-ed pages, and most of the time more partisan than even the overtly political magazines. The blogosphere is about the most partisan and least independent voice this side of talk radio.
Is the blogoshere1 more partisan than the op-ed pages and political magazines? Perhaps, but I doubt seriously web log authors are any more partisan than the authors of more mainstream political discourse. However, the external pressures are different for these authors.

The readership of the op-ed page is completely different than the readership of a blog. We have thousands upon thousands of blogs to choose from, so most naturally migrate towards those blogs that agree with their own point of view. Many go to blogs (and talk radio) not to learn a new idea, but to gather ammunition to support their side and/or just make themselves feel better. However, the local op-ed page is theoretically read by everyone of every political persuation. An op-ed writer wants to persuade this wide audience so maintains an air of independence and non-partisanship.

Political magazines typically come from a third angle, they want to push the nation in some direction or towards a specific agenda. It is the agenda that is important, not the party. So while liberal magazines tend to support Democrats what they really want to do is push the Democrats towards their own agenda. This is easier if you only have one foot in the party and the other on the doorstep ready to leave whenever things don't go your way.

Lastly, this election just seemed too important to attempt any semblance of independence. I didn't read blogs back in 2000, but I doubt seriously they were nearly as partisan as this past year when the stakes felt much higher. Although I've almost always voted for Democrats in the past I never really felt particularly partisan until the past few years. I fact, in my ideal world I'd be a liberal Republican in the mold of Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt; alas, that beast no longer exists.

1Why blogosphere? Shouldn't it just be blogsphere? Though I must say it is more fun to say "blogoshere". Blogosphere, from Whamo!