Battle of the Blogs


The blogosphere's abuzz about a New York Times Magazine piece by Michael Crowley due out this weekend, which apparently will claim that conservative blogs are more politically effective than their counterparts on the left. Without wading too heavily into that debate, let me just point to this snippet from an interview I did with Joe Trippi last year:

The Republican Party is the most disciplined, top-down party. That's anathema on the Internet, even on the right-wing Web sites. They're the last people who're going to be comfortable letting go. The Democratic Party, for lack of a better way of putting it, is more dysfunctional and more open.

That's not a condemnation of Republicans. They've been more successful in electoral politics--their way is working. They've also been very good at adapting what works: We discovered direct-mail fundraising, and they mastered it. My fear is that Dean is the Japanese at Pearl Harbor--that we'll waken the sleeping Republican giant.

Maybe that's what's happened. Atrios counters that Crowley, who makes much of the synergy between conservative blogs and other media (talk radio, Fox News), misses the point that this is also what makes blogs more dispensable for the right, which has a better coordinated ideological media infrastructure. But I think this gives the blogs short shrift. What Trippi emphasized when I spoke to him is the importance of just this kind of synergy: The impressive distributed network of support the Dean movement built fizzled without the structure provided by a top-down campaign. That is, blogs are useful to the right precisely because they link a distributed-but-interconnected base (something I think Trippi's right to suggest the left was traditionally better at) with the top-down machine. So in a sense, blogs may be more advantageous to the right for something close to the opposite of the reason Atrios suggests: It's precisely for the left that blogs are more structurally redundant, and for the right that they provide a new complement to a pre-existing strength.