There is No Right Wing Blogosphere Anymore by Chris Bowers
by Chris Bowers, Mar 21, 2006
In our August 2005 paper the Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere, Matt and I wrote the following (emphasis in original):
Conservatives use the same tactics on blogs that they do in mainstream politics – attack the media and attack progressives. The right wing tends not to build independent online communities, using their existing offline communities to generate web sites that reinforce their politics and their ideology.
Their web presence is nurtured by institutions and is part of the conservative, right-wing media machine. The Drudge Report, for instance, is one of the largest conservative sites and frequently receives its information from Republican operatives.
Most right-wing blogs reiterate talking points that are generated from inside formal conservative institutions; conversations center on feeling victimized for being right-wing, attacking and hating progressives, and attacking and hating the media.
The political successes of this community have been largely founded in manipulating media coverage. The two clearest examples are the John Thune bloggers in South Dakota, and the Dan Rather scandal.
I still believe this, only now I feel it has developed to such a degree that the right-wing blogosphere itself has been all but annihilated. Most major right-wing bloggers have now been incorporated into the established news media apparatus. Glenn Reynolds is a columnist for MSNBC. Andrew Sullivan is a columnist for Time. Michelle Malkin is a frequently published columnist in a number of offline outlets. And now, RedState co-founder Ben Domenech has a regular column in the Washington Post. Despite being the latest in a long line of conservative bloggers to achieve “mainstream” status with the established news media, his first column was, predictably, an attack on the same institutions that just hired him and gave him space.
In short, there is almost nothing in the way of an independent right-wing blogosphere operating outside of existing, established news media outlets. The days of the rise of Free Republic have long passed. The right-wing is not building new institutions online anymore. To quote again from the report Matt and I produced:
Progressive blogs build communities of activists and generate new political activity online. Blogs and online organizations offer forums where people can actively engage in progressive politics – real involvement from people talking about politics, policy, organizing, their lives, etc. The degree to which progressive blogs encourage active engagement in political dialogue has fueled their rapid growth over the past several years.
The single most important difference between the blogospheres is this: the progressive blogosphere is introducing new actors into the political scene. The right-wing blogosphere is facilitating further organization of what was already a fairly coherent political world.
“The blogs,” as they are known in many media outlets and circles and DC, are now almost exclusively the realm of progressives. The entire term “the blogs” implies a new institution operating independently of established centers of news distribution and political power. That no longer exists on the right. The right-wing blogosphere, as it is now constituted, is simply an extension of a larger message machine that developed long before the blogosphere ever existed. The right-wing blogosphere no longer holds any promise to produce new leaders within the conservative movement, or to alter the balance of power within the conservative movement in any way, shape or form.
John Aravosis recently remarked to me how amazed he was that whenever established news centers and sources of political power comment on “the blogs” anymore, now they always mean progressive blogs. I agreed with him, at the time, and after a little thought I can now see why. The right-wing blogosphere is dead. It should not come as a surprise that there has not been a major successful campaign by right-wing blogosphere for over a year now. Simply put, there are no longer any emerging online institutions on the right. While there are numerous instances where progressive bloggers are working with progressive institutions, in every case I can think of where an “A-list” blogger sis involved, they are working with other emerging progressive institutions: MoveOn, Air America, Media Matters, etc. While conservative bloggers are looking to be absorbed within established institutions, progressive bloggers continue to build new ones.
The right-wing blogosphere is dead. Long live the progressive blogosphere.