A Light Almost Dawns

blogging, Democratic Party, elections, News Media, Republican Party

Adam Nagourney writes in tomorrow’s New York Times about using the Internets for political campaigning:

Michael Cornfield, a political science professor at George Washington University who studies politics and the Internet, said campaigns were actually late in coming to the game. “Politicians are having a hard time reconciling themselves to a medium where they can’t control the message,” Professor Cornfield said. “Politics is lagging, but politics is not going to be immune to the digital revolution.”

The professional politicians are losing control of the message. This is absolutely the best news I’ve heard in a long time.

I like this part, too:

President Bush’s media consultant, Mark McKinnon, said television advertising, while still crucial to campaigns, had become markedly less influential in persuading voters than it was even two years ago.

“I feel like a woolly mammoth,” Mr. McKinnon said.

The dominance of television and radio ads in political campaigns may be the worst thing that ever happened to American politics, IMO. The need to purchase big chunks of mass media time, as well as to produce slick ads, requires truckloads of money and has thoroughly corrupted the election process. Further, mass media communication is one-way — from the top, down. In the mass media age ordinary Americans lost their voices. Demagoguery got much easier. Smart people figured out how to use media to manipulate truth and manipulate voters — usually by appealing to prejudices and fears — into voting against their own interests. And there was no way to talk back.

The times they are a-changin’.

If you read the whole article is becomes apparent that Nagourney mostly doesn’t get it any more than the woolly mammoth consultants he interviews. Which is essentially the problem with the article. Nagourney interviews the woolly mammoths for their perspective of the cro-magnon cave men, but he doesn’t think to interview the cave men for their views of the woolly mammoths.

If you’re old enough, think back forty years and imagine Lawrence Welk discussing the Rolling Stones. Well, that’s Nagourney on blogging.

Like the old Buffalo Springfield song goes, “There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear …”

Bloggers, for all the benefits they might bring to both parties, have proved to be a complicating political influence for Democrats. They have tugged the party consistently to the left, particularly on issues like the war, and have been openly critical of such moderate Democrats as Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut.

Jane Hamsher adds,

… if Lieberman does in fact get tanked it will be because we’ve become adept at reverberating our message with local Connecticut media, something the Lamont campaign well understands and which the Elmendorfs of the world still charge a high price for having no fucking clue about. Neither, for that matter, does Nagourney. The game has so far outstripped and advanced any knowledge that either of them has of it, let alone the existence of the playing field, it’s rather pathetic.

“Elmendorf” is Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic consultant who told The Washington Post that bloggers and online donors “are not representative of the majority you need to win elections.”

John Aravosis has a vigorous response to Nagourney’s calling Lieberman a “moderate” Republican [oops; Democrat. Freudian slip.].


I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down …

Sorry, I’m having a nostalgia wallow.

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  1. alyosha  •  Apr 1, 2006 @9:31 pm

    What a field-day for the heat
    A thousand people in the street
    Singing songs and carrying signs
    Mostly say, hooray for our side

    I never thought of blogs as a digital version of 1960s protest marches, but in a way they are.

  2. Swami  •  Apr 1, 2006 @10:20 pm

    Blogs rule….I was trying to communicate to my son about the inherent power in blogs and I was treated to an eye roll with the comment,…mere blogs..He didn’t get it either.

    There’s a big difference between hearing and reading. I think most people can’t analyze information fully by hearing. An example would be Bush’s statements about regime change as one of his goals in invading Iraq when it was overshadowed with statements about WMD’s. Even though I heard every word, the part about regime change didn’t register because it wasn’t central to the theme. Only after a Rightie pointed out that Bush articulated regime change as a reason to invade Iraq and I went back and read the transcript did I realize he slipped that little tidbit in.

  3. biggerbox  •  Apr 2, 2006 @1:20 am

    Senator Schumer had an interview with bloggers the other day that made it clear he’s a mammoth. He was steeped in the assumption that he and his peers were the ones who told us what the Democratic agenda should be, and that bloggers were some form of electronic newspaper that could tell their readers what to do. It really made me realize how “netroots” participatory democracy is a fundamental change from their conception of the universe.

  4. modus potus  •  Apr 2, 2006 @1:26 am

    Um, don’t you mean “John Aravosis has a vigorous response to Nagourney’s calling Lieberman a ‘moderate’ Democrat?” (I’m not even sure he makes a moderate Republican, but there are so few actual examples of the latter that it’s hard to say.)

  5. I think by all rights a moderate democrat should be one who is concerned that small shareholders not be jerked around when medical insurance is federalized. But we’re living in an alternate reality where Joe Lieberman is a democrat at all.

  6. Donna  •  Apr 2, 2006 @7:03 am

    Consider, too, that the MSM have a financial stake in election year political advertising income.
    This point was made clear to me a few years ago when I studied the annual report of one media company whose report included ‘happy’ projections about expected [next year] political ad sales which would help offset ‘unhappy’ loss of income in other areas.
    I’ve even wondered whether big media corporate boards would hope for and therefore sort of be glad to foster continued political unrest/divisiveness because that unrest is good for ad sales.
    I bring this up because I have become cynical about the role money plays in politics……. the internet and bloggers’ increased role may not just be a matter of ‘losing control of the message’….but also be about ‘losing control of the money’.

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