Those Poor, Poor Conservatives…

July 24th, 2008at 09:02pm Posted by Eli

How will they ever get their message out?

The right is engaged in the business of opining while the left features sites that offer a more reportorial model.

At first glance, these divergent approaches might not seem consequential. But as the 2008 campaign progresses, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the absence of any websites on the right devoted to reporting — as opposed to just commenting on the news — is proving politically costly to Republicans.

While conservatives are devoting much of their Internet energy to analysis, their counterparts on the left are taking advantage of the rise of new media to create new institutions devoted to unearthing stories, putting new information into circulation and generally crowding the space traditionally taken by traditional media. And it almost always comes at the expense of GOP politicians.


But the left isn’t simply promoting its own version of the news — it’s also breaking it.

Deploying writers with backgrounds grounded in journalism rather than politics, The Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo, in particular, have already become a persistent problem for McCain’s campaign, regularly posting negative opposition research and embarrassing videos in addition to advancing damaging story lines against the GOP nominee.

There is simply no equivalent on the right to these two liberal-leaning websites.


In some cases, the stories incrementally move the anti-McCain message forward (by flagging an off-message Iraq statement by a McCain surrogate, for example). In others, the reporting scores broadside hits that inflict notable damage (such as posting controversial audio of the Rev. John Hagee that would prompt McCain to finally renounce the pastor).

Add in the increasingly aggressive online efforts of liberal think tanks such as the Center for American Progress, and it leaves the right at a severe disadvantage in the high-stakes business of distributing information about favored candidates and the opposition.


“It’s fair to say that the mainstream media…was increasingly either neutral or effectively browbeaten by the right,” says Josh Marshall, the founder and editor of Talking Points Memo.

The powerful presence of Limbaugh on the radio airwaves and the ascendance of Fox News on cable television energized liberals, Marshall says.

“People on the center-left, especially in the lead-up to the Iraq war and after the 2000 recount, realized that there was nothing on that side of equation,” he adds.

The result was the emergence of TPM and HuffPo, along with the opinion- and organizing-centered Daily Kos.

“Republicans haven’t developed a lot of that infrastructure because they haven’t been forced to,” says Michael Turk, a former ecampaign director at the RNC.

That’s the key right there.  Online conservatives don’t need to do right-oriented reporting because they have Fox News and the rest of the corporate media to do it for them.  Online progressives have to do their own reporting because that’s the only way those stories will ever get told.

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Democrats,Media,Politics,Republicans

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