I had a very good time. But I wasn’t aware until today how close I came to being sucked into a vortex of intrigue and controversy and smoke-filled rooming. And possibly money, although money has a way of fleeing the room whenever I show up, so the money thing is a long shot.
Anyway, I got to the party, held at a nightclub called Lotus on Manhattan’s west side, a bit late. The room was too tightly packed with bodies to mingle much, but I managed to wriggle my way to the bar and claimed a spot next to Steve Gilliard and his blogging partner, the lovely Jen, a.k.a. Jenonymous. So I not only could order drinks but was lucky enough to snag a couple of steak cubes as a tray floated by, which in that room was a major coup.
I couldn’t see the honorees as they were introduced and spoke to the room. But I could hear the remarks. But then I got caught up in talking to another gentleman sitting at the bar who turned out to be a frequent commenter on Unclaimed Territory. Small world. So I wasn’t listening to the remarks all that closely and don’t remember what anybody said. I’m sure it was all very stirring, though.
When the awards part of the evening had concluded, Elana Levin of DMI rounded up us bloggers and took us to a downstairs lounge where we could talk about blog stuff. This was truly a star-studded group, as bloggers go. Along with Steve and Jen were two of the Great Babes of Blogging, Liza Sabater and Lindsay Beyerstein (Lindsay did listen to the remarks and blogged about them, here). Bob Fertik of Democrats.com, another survivor of Conference-a-thon, seemed to have recovered from the ordeal, or else he was faking it very well. Soon Lance Mannion and Blue Girl strolled in. Also Tom Watson and several other bloggers — I have not recovered from Conference-a-thon and cannot be responsible for remembering anything clearly — were there was well. And, oh yes, Kos arrived and took a spot in the corner.
Listen, folks, this is as much celebrity gossip as you’ll ever be likely to find on The Mahablog. Enjoy it.
So we had a lively talk about blog stuff, mostly on the grand themes of what we’re all about and whether we’re really reaching anyone other than “the choir.” We let Kos get a word in here and there, but on the whole he seemed perfectly happy to just hang out and listen. Then Kos left and the crowd thinned, and we were left with a small group that included Steve, Liza, Lindsay, Bob, Elana, and some other folks, and we became determined to find something to eat. So we tumbled out of Lotus and into the West Village street. After some fruitless wandering Steve decided to take charge and lead us to a place that would reliably supply us with hamburgers. He cruised straight and purposefully through waves of strolling people like a ship under sail, with the rest of us paddling frantically in his wake, to the place of hamburgers, and they were good hamburgers. And then I realized it was close to midnight and I had to get back to Grand Central before the Metro North Railroad turned into a pumpkin.
This all seemed fairly innocent to me, but what do I know? I’m still just a small-town Ozark Mountain girl. There’s times all these big city doin’s make me feel like I jes’ left Dogpatch.
According to Jason Zengerle of the floundering New Republic, that basement lounge was in fact a smoke-filled room, albeit a no-smoking one, and I had been sitting in the midst of a conspiracy so immense it would have astonished Whittaker Chambers.
As explained by Glenn Greenwald,
Over the last few days, Jason Zengerle of The New Republic has been engaged in a bizarre crusade to depict “liberal bloggers” as a bunch of mindless, obedient zombies who take orders about what to write from Markos Moulitsas, all in order to ensure that they can continue to enjoy the great financial wealth lavished upon them by virtue of their participation in the “Advertise Liberally” network, which Markos founded but does not operate. To prove this “point,” Zengerle published what he purported to be various e-mails regarding recent accusations against Jerome Armstrong, which Zengerle claimed were sent to the “Townhouse” Google group — comprised of 300 or so journalists, political operatives, bloggers, advocacy organizations, and others designed to facilitate communication between these usually isolated groups. To the extent the “substance” of Zengerle’s accusations are worth responding to, Ezra Klein and Max Sawicky (among many) have done so quite thoroughly, respectively here and here.
I’ll let you sort out the allegations and the refutations of the allegations. But as a participant in the Advertising Liberally network, I want to assure you that the amount of revenue received is not enough to buy my loyalty. A fair amount of hamburgers, yes, but not loyalty. I’m holding out for bigger bucks on the loyalty thing. And Kos and Jerome do not run the Advertising Liberally network; Chris Bowers does. I got in because Chris invited me to join, and I didn’t have to do nothin’ for it. Believe me that any club inviting me to join is not all that exclusive, although there are specific criteria. (Also see Chris on “Who Owns the New Republic?“)
Anyway, Zengerle claims that one of the sources of his allegations was an email from Steve Gilliard. But did Steve write the email? Steve says he has no record of it.
I told Zengerle the same thing and that he needs to provide the provenance of the e-mail so I can confirm or deny it. If it turns out I didn’t write those words, I’m going to write Franklin Foer, the editor of the New Republic and demand a retraction and an apology.
I write thousands of words a day between e-mails, IM, posts and comments. It is easy to lose a phrase or e-mail in that, which I why I can’t call it a fabrication. It may be taken from another e-mail, or a post, but I cannot find those words in my mailbox.
See what I mean about controversy and intrigue? And yet not much was said about any of this Thursday night. “Zengerle is an ass and TNR sucks” pretty much sums up the consensus.
While I’m on the subject of Thursday night I want to say something about the Drum Major Institute. DMI is a progressive think tank dedicated to “defending the American dream.” They’re doing some good work, and I hope to hear more from them in the future.