Blogwars IV

Neil the Ethical Werewolf, posting at Ezra’s place, has delved into the issues of Jerome Armstrong’s past SEC problems and his relationship with Kos. The post was met with a deluge of negative responses, including a sustained attack by dKos’ Armando, who has deemed Neil “a piece of crap” and “a slimy idiot.”

Ezra has written a post in response, detailing his opinions on the matter, and includes some interesting observations about YearlyKos and some thoughts on transparency that are worth checking out.

Commenter Petey makes two important points in the thread associated with Neil’s post. One: “The Warner episode and the SEC revelations are not occurring in a vacuum,” and Two: “I don't think Markos is satan, but I do think he's been engaging in some deeply questionable practices for some time now. And I don't think folks on the left are helping the cause by reflexively defending him.”

I would suggest that not only are they not helping the cause, but are also giving credence to the assertions (as peddled for days now at TNR, for example) that there is an embargo on any legitimate criticism of Kos in the Lefty blogosphere. I’ll repeat what I left as a comment in response to Ezra’s post:

As for the issues being raised, both concerning the relationship between Kos and Armstrong and concerning the relationship between the blogosphere and the establishment, discussing them isn't some radically new idea. Salon published a feature on Armstrong (for which both he and Kos were interviewed) earlier this month, which addressed Kos' perceived flips on Paul Hackett and the DLC after Armstrong's employment by Sherrod Brown and Mark Warner, respectively. And as far back as 2004, Billmon (writing for the LA Times) broached the issue of A-list bloggers "selling out," which was not exactly met with unanimous appreciation then, either.

In that piece, Billmon forecasted, quite correctly, that "If the mainstream media are true to past form, they will treat the A-list blogs—commercialized, domesticated—as if they are the entire blogosphere, while studiously ignoring the more eccentric, subversive currents swirling deeper down," which is precisely what we've seen during this whole TNR debacle, even though, as I've pointed out, Kos' "influence and visibility are exactly what makes him perhaps the singularly worst possible exemplar from which to extrapolate details about the rest of us." In light of that, the rest of us who populate the blogosphere do and should have a very keen interest in what our most visible representatives are doing—which is not to suggest we should, as you point out, engage in unfair speculation, but certainly it's not only fair to raise the questions, but in our own best interest, since we are inextricably defined by the A-listers, whether we want to or should be, or not.

UPDATE: In response to my comments at Ezra’s, Joseph of Hughes for America emailed me and made a good point, which I am reprinting with his permission: “If we're to consider sunshine the best disinfectant and transparency one of the foremost traits our politicians should possess, what's stopping some of us from expecting the same things from ourselves? From the blogosphere?

…I most certainly want to know what the bottom line is with issues like this. Not because I enjoy trafficking in rumor and speculation, but specifically because a part (a small part) of my identity online is tied to those with whom I associate. And something that reflects badly on them reflects, in some small way, badly on me, and us as a whole. So you are 100 percent correct that it is in our best interest to continue discussing issues like this.”

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