In many ways, the real story of the bloggers' triumph is the story of a right-wing (though not always conservative) populist uprising that started half a century ago. The story begins with National Review's founding in 1955 and extends through five decades of steady, heavy and difficult work. In the 1970s it was Spiro Agnew's denunciation of liberal media bias that ultimately resulted in William Safire getting a job at the New York Times. In the Wall Street Journal, the late Robert Bartley's op-ed page opened a new front in the heart of elite daily journalism.
Don't let the word "conservative" fool you. Rebels on the right were pioneers in the political exploitation of new and alternative technologies long before anyone knew what blogs were. Led by Rush Limbaugh, conservatives even revived AM radio, making it a major source of a populist backlash against liberal-controlled institutions. Cable profoundly transformed politics. C-Span alone did more to demystify government than a generation of muckrakers - or bloggers - ever could. CNN pioneered the steady erosion of the Big Three Networks' stranglehold on information. Later, Fox News soon destroyed CNN's stranglehold on 24-hour news.
And, remember, the Internet was a big deal before the onset of the of the blogs as well. For good or for ill, Matt Drudge refused to treat the MSM as a sacred monastery, and in many respects he remains the ur-blogger. National Review Online, if I may say, was no slouch either in the story of the political Internet's rise, before the blogs. (Now we have many blogs of our own.)
Left-wing bloggers believe they are part of the same "revolution" as right-wing bloggers are. They're not. The conservative blogs are the shock troops of a decades-long battle to seize back the culture. Conservatives have always had to rely on "alternative media" - magazines, AM radio, blogs - because the Mainstream Media barred the door to conservatives. And even when they let a few token ones in, they had to be labeled "conservative" first and journalists a distant second. The lefty blogs are something else entirely. They represent - much like the still lame liberal talk radio and the new liberal think tanks - an attempt to copycat conservative successes. Their fight is not with the monolithic mainstream media (or academia) but with the usurpers. Politics is not a battle of technology. It is a battle of ideas, and therein lies all the difference.
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