Watershed NeinPeter Daou steps up to the plate and suggests that Coulter's whining about not being able to attack the 9/11 widows as she's attacking the 9/11 widows is a watershed moment where the MSM adroitly uses her to suggest that the Blogosphere has a pin dick:
Anybody who watched Ann Coulter's June 14th appearance on the Tonight Show had to realize that it was a watershed moment in the war between the establishment media and the progressive netroots, a community fresh off the successful YearlyKos convention (*). It was also a signal to Democrats that liberal ideology can be denigrated with impunity. Had the words "Jew" or "Christian" or "Conservative" been substituted for "Liberal" we'd be waking up to a national scandal.
Never mind that Jay Leno and George Carlin sat like trembling lambs while Coulter spewed gutter-level invective at millions of Americans - we've already seen the same obsequiousness from Larry King, Matt Lauer (who ended his faux-debate with Coulter by saying "always fun to have you") and others. The larger issue here is that despite an uproar from the progressive netroots, NBC saw fit to give Coulter a platform to continue her liberal-scapegoating and to slander women who lost their husbands on 9/11. (For the record, many rightwing bloggers denounced Coulter and several Democrats attacked her, but their focus was the substance of Coulter's words, not a criticism of the media outlets who continue to provide her a national forum.)
Before I address the meat and potatoes of Peter Daou's argument, I want to get one nitpick I have with it completely out of the way. That source of that nitpick appears in the next paragraph:
It's hard to deny that Coulter's words border on incitement. What she says is neither amusing nor smart nor humorous nor factual nor worthy of airing on a major media outlet. It treats a substantial segment of the population as sub-human, as creatures deserving of public scorn and worse (She said Jesus would say that "we are called upon to do battle" on liberalism). Careful not to violate Godwin's Law, I'll refrain from the obvious comparisons ...
C'mon now, Peter, if the comparisons are obvious, then go ahead and violate Godwin's Law. Afterall, Godwin didn't sign the Constitution so his "law" isn't really a law. It's only a "law" in a sense of "let's narrow the scope of the debate by censoring ourselves", which is basically nothing more than an extention of Political Correctness. Bah! At the end of the day, the people have a right to open and direct, honest and human truth, even if it means calling a spade a spade (or, in Dubya's case, calling a dictatorial decider ... a dictatorial decider!)
Now, as far as Peter's suggestion that the MSM is using Coulter to suggest that all of us in leftwing Blogtopia are all a bunch scrawny dorks swimming in Ol' Lake Flacid, I don't know if I'm ready to agree. In fact, I leaning heavily towards disagreement because, the way I see it, I don't think the MSM really needs to use Coulter to suggest the blogosphere is rather limp and impotent -- the A-List blogosphere is doing a fine enough job of it themselves for they are just as beholden to the Blog-Ad dollar as the MSM are slaves to the Corporate dollar.
And that's the essential circle jerk the A-list Blogosphere has been running on; the proverbial pink elephant sitting atop the ol' cable/DSL modem that nobody wants to dignify -- on one hand, they're screaming at the MSM, "Say no to power!" which is to say no to money and their corporate taskmasters and become a friend of the people once again, and the MSM accurately replies, "We can't!" since pissing off the shareholders is not good business (plus, it's against SEC law).
If the MSM were to ever drop Coulter as if she were a bad case of the clap, turn around, and scream at the A-List Blogosphere, "Why don't you say no to power" (e.g. delete the Blog-Ads, ixnay the contribution boxes, the CafePress accounts, and refuse those book deals), the A-List blogosphere will have to likewise respond "We can't!" since pissing off and alienating the hundreds of thousands of A-List blog readers (the majority of whom make an average $70,000 a year according to the most recent Blog-Ad servey) is not a good way to do business, especially among some A-List blogs that have become businesses such as Kos and TPM (they're both Limited Liability Corporations) or blogs that hope to one day have Blog-Ad revenue completely bankroll their respective endeavors.
But if they lose and alienate too many readers, they lose Blog-Ad revenue and there we have the ultimate stalemate between Old School Vs. New School Media -- it's all about the bottom line in the end. Too many A-List blogs work overtime in trying to silence and minimize dissent by either relegating dissenting liberals as trolls, banning them outright, and removing their comments from their blogs or HaloScans in order to avoid other readers checking them out themselves and possibly agreeing with the dissenter, and possibly taking their wallet or eyeballs elsewhere.
Practices like these have been happening at DailyKos and AmericaBlog regularly. In fact, John Aravosis has banned an entire college campus of 22,000 people because one student dared to dissent with him. How is that different from what the WaPo and Deb Howell did when they shut down comments or even what the Bush Administration is doing by practically demanding loyalty oaths?!? Simple: it isn't. Damage control is damage control and, let's face it, as some A-List blogs have become successful, they've had to incorporate some of the most ridiculous and draconian commenting policies that practically ammount to a loyalty oath of some sort and I, myself, left and stopped commenting on much of these A-List liberal blogs long before I gave them the privilege of banning me.
This latest Coulter incident should be a wake-up call to the larger progressive community and to the Democratic leadership. Parading Coulter on national television is a statement from the establishment media that we don't matter, that our 'pressure' is meaningless, that our voices are worthless.
No, Peter, the MSM doesn't need to use Coulter to do that, but if they're going to, by all means don't get in their way because, by doing so, it would merely interupt the MSM as they're in the process of making a huge mistake.
What's the proper course of action in response to this challenge? For the netroots, it's to keep growing and organizing, to hammer away at those in the media who enable the sliming of 9/11 widows, to respond to such media transgressions with ferocity of wit and will, and to badger elected Democrats and progressive leaders about the media problem.
Well, I doubt the netroots can keep growing and organizing when the A-List blogopshere is pulling an MSM in attacking and mass-banning dissenting liberals for daring to put the A-List blogger's feet to the fire and exposing them just as they would the MSM. Markos Moulitsas, John Aravosis, and Armando have allready discredited themselves before the entire netroots audience for a number of infractions and other A-List bloggers seem intent on following right behind them. Other than that, you're right about educating and badgering our Democrats about the media.
However, I believe the proper course of action is the very same reason why I keep tuning into the MSM and turning on to some of these self-righteous A-List bloggers -- I'm eyeballing their respective advertizements and making note of them as things to avoid. From there, I tell my closest friends in the hopes they'll avoid them, too. And right there is the real answer to the MSM problem -- it's not neccessarily an issue of politics; it's an issue of economics.
The only way to get the MSM to really feel intimidated by the netroots is if the A-List Blogsphere were to take their activism to the next level and hit the MSM where it counts -- directly in the goddamned wallet, dragging their stockprices and their revenues down along with those of their advertizers. The netroots had plenty of opportunites to do so and failed each and every one because the A-List bloggers do not use their power to organize and choreograph picket lines and protests on the MSM's front porch along with massive letter writing campaigns to the MSM's advertisers within a moments notice.
Furthermore, some A-List bloggers are actually accepting Blog-Ads from the MSM and that's just unconscionable -- when NBC/General Electric gives people like Coulter a platform to spread her hatred and you're an A-List liberal blogger with Blog-Ads promoting NBC programs or General Electric products, and therefore collecting reveneue from their corporate coffers, you are part the problem, Corky!
Replace those Blog-Ads and tell NBC/General Electric to take a flying leap. The goal should be whenever CBS, NBC, ABC, or CNN gives people like Coulter a platform to run her mouth, the netroots should be well organized so that the stock prices of Viacom, General Electric, Disney, and Time-Warner are effected by heading straight south 10-15 points or more for days or weeks on end.
Until the liberal netroots can be that effective, it'll always be impotent and worthless even at the height of its power and influence and the MSM won't need to use Coulter (or anyone) to exploit it as a potential fact. But again, if the MSM wants to use Coulter for that purpose, it just shows once again how truly blind they are to the netroots in the first place, how they still don't get it, and remain their own worst enemy.