What did I like best at the Yearly Kos Convention? — apparently the last, as next year’s convention seems to have been re-branded Netroots Nation by the man with the brand, Markos himself. Meeting ‘pups and bloggers I had not met. Connecting again with those I hadn’t seen in a year. What did I like very little about YKos? — location, location, location. A venue with $4.50 pint bottles of water and three-dollar bananas; miles to walk between events on hard marble and concrete; with no commons to sit, meet, and chat except an outrageously priced restaurant and a bar; completely disconnected from the city where we’re located — well, it is entirely beyond me. Especially since I know there must be summer-available college campuses in Chicago where we could have been happily hosted for less than half the room-rate, close to a vibrant downtown, and with lots of space for meetups with other folks that weren’t almost miles from one another.
But here’s what I liked the very least: the overarching theme seemed to be, much like the song from Oklahoma about farmers and ranchers, “Why Can’t the Bloggers and the Media be Friends?” I came away from lectures by Mike Allen (of George Bush’s and Karl Rove’s favorite new website politico.com) and Jay Carney (Glenn Greenwald’s nemesis at Time) and Ezra Klein (of the American Prospect and Tapped) feeling just icky. Why icky? Because I believe American traditional media to be complicit in an illegal and immoral war and occupation of Iraq. They are unable and unwilling to expose the shredding of our Constitutional rights but quite concerned about Paris Hilton’s incarceration. They are entirely unbothered about their own absurd appearances at Correspondents Dinners rapping with Karl Rove, to my mind the architect of an American Presidency chock full of the worst American war criminals ever.
So don’t expect me to fly all the way to Chicago and make nice with representatives of Traditional Media when they say that the Washington Post and New York Times didn’t lie about murders in New Orleans and Governor Blanco’s complicity in the disaster. They were printing White House talking points and anybody who takes a moment to read coverage from the Houston Chronicle knows it.
And don’t get me to pay $175 a night for a room in a Hyatt with surly customer service and then pretend that Matt Bai-toy is a great “get” as a debate moderator, especially when he made Chris Matthews look professional. What’s the point of having a New York Times reporter moderate a YKos debate, anyway? And especially Bai-toy, who has, shall we say, history with the netroots. Anybody who thinks he’s being clever by trying to get commitments from Presidential candidates to visit all 50 states doesn’t know about Richard Nixon’s stupid promise at his nominating convention — a promise many Republicans still will tell you cost him the Presidency in 1960. And don’t ask me to be proud of our DailyKos co-moderator, who insulted Mike Gravel by asking him if all Alaskan politicians are corrupt. Hello, unclear on the concept?? The current Alaska Congressional delegation, all of them in trouble, are all Republicans. Why try to further marginalize a guy who does pretty well on his own without quite yelling “Kids, get offa my lawn!” And why compound the Traditional Media frame that “all politicians are crooks?” This is the distinction-favoring, precision-employing netroots?
Politico.com’s Mike Allen, for instance, was on a panel where he sucked up to the netroots, saying he’d really like all of us to write to him — “here’s my personal email!” — when we have a great story for him or even a correction to one of his stories. He couldn’t say enough times how well-treated he’d been at the convention and what a wonderful thing it was and how we’d really arrived. Then he lost no time rushing to Tucker Carlson’s wee little MSNBC programme, where they both made fun of our cathode-ray-tube tans and nametags with “HighAcidity” and “TRex” on them. (Yes, our theropod got a Mike Allen shout-out.) Mike also entirely misrepresented the YKos experience of a young military man whose fellow servicemembers, former and current, tried to keep him from exposing himself to disciplinary charges, as he was in uniform and doing politics. Funny that Malkin and Drudge both featured the same story, isn’t it? No, Mike, it’s not: we know you love Drudge and get your best story ideas from him, so don’t expect emails from me to correct or tip you to story ideas. Not. Gonna. Happen.
Ezra Klein maintained, on another panel, that we know all about Judy Miller’s being duped by her sources in the runup to this fiasco in Iraq because she is the exception, not the exemplar, in Traditional Media. She’s been exposed for her wrongdoing, and shamed; therefore she must be the only one. He didn’t answer my shouted question about Michael Gordon, who shared her Pulitzers and still shills for The Regime. Yeah, right, Ezra — the New York Times and Washington Post are entirely self-correcting enterprises.
And Time’s Jay Carney? Well, Swampland’s Jay Carney blogs with (and presumably as Time Washington Bureau Chief employs and supervises) Joe Klein, who now thinks that Preznit Chimpy McFlightsuit deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for — what? — not dribbling down his pants leg when he pees?
I want the revolutionary, angry, Establishment-challenging, rabble-rousing netroots back. If Netroots Nation sees its new mission as pleasing Traditional Media, or allying with it, or making nice, or merging the two into some amalgam that pleases anyone in the Establishment: then it’s not my Netroots Nation. I’ll just sit over here on the Left Coast and take well-deserved potshots at people who insult our Constitution, insult journalism, and insult the First Amendment. I’m sure they’ll enjoy the cocktail weenies while I do.
On the plus side, I did get to shake John Edwards’ hand!