Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Tyranny/Blogging: It's an interesting point, and one that I think folds in with so much other commentary about the media. The right and left were shut out of the TV establishment in the early days (more specifically, the right and the far left) because it was assumed that blandness would sell best. Both went to radio: the left to NPR and Pacifica ventures, the right to commercial syndication. The internet happened to be a perfect outlet for the libertarian (stereotype, that is: wonky, tech-literate, individualist). The left likes to march because they believe in the power of self-righteous groupthink. They feel comfortable in that setting, surrounded by the moral support of their correct-thinking comrades. The right is more community-focused (think locally, act locally) and, aside from the NRA, tends to choose local groups like the Rotary or the chamber of commerce. The libertarian is more likely to distrust crowds, hence, in one respect, the failure to make a viable Libertarian Party. Libertarians are also a quirky lot, given to odd disagreements on policy. A fire-breathing, pro-legalization, Cato Institute type might turn out to be strongly pro-life. An ACLU-ish left-libertarian might turn out to be strongly pro-war. The perfect outlet for this sort of individualist is the blog, which is in its essence about, to put it in the most overused term, authenticity. Hence the emphasis on unmasking bias, exploding euphemism, and unraveling spin.

You're right, though, to hint at a certain type of media bias in blogging. It is the bias of the alternative media in general, believing its own declarations of authenticity, devolving into a smug superciliousness. Read any city's City Paper and you'll get a stale whiff of the last time a medium got too self-satisfied. There is the democratizing effect of cheap internet publishing, which allows for anyone to rebut anyone else. But obviously if I set up a blogspot site tomorrow because I disagree with an estabished site like Sullivan's Dish, the only way it'll get any serious eyeball is if Sully himself mentions it. This means that, as in any other medium, there will be an ivory tower effect. On the positive side, it will likely be a more meritocratic tower.

There are exceptions to any rule. There are plently of banal, NPR lefties out there, as the Dean-blogging phenom suggests. (But, again, it's a movement thing, a virtual Kumbaya session.) Then there are some straight up Republicans out there, too. Predictably, though, they tend to be of the fiscal conservative variety, not the moral majority variety. Not many blogs took to Judge Moore's side in the Ten Commandments hoopla, except as an intellectual exercise on the merits of strict constructionism. (Modestly ends post by pointing to self.)

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