*Making it in the Political Blogosphere*

by on November 19, 2011 at 1:09 am in Books, Weblogs | Permalink

The author is Tanni Haas and the subtitle is The World’s Political Bloggers Share the Secrets to Success.  There are interviews with Arianna Huffington, Jane Hamsher, Nick Gillespie, Lew Rockwell, Juan Cole, Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum, yours truly, and others.  Here is a comment from Kevin Drum:

When I started out, there was much more of a tendency to engage with the other side.  Liberals and conservatives would attack each other, but we’d also engage with each other in at least a moderately serious way.  Today, you get almost none of that.  There’s very little engagement between left and right.  And what engagement there is tends to be pure attack.  There’s no real conversation at all.  That’s a difference that I think professionalization has brought about.  The political blogosphere has become more tribal.

A good point, but I blame professionalization less than Kevin does.  Maybe some of us are simply a bit sick of each other, and the accumulated slights and misunderstandings weigh more heavily on our emotional responses than does the feeling of generosity from working together in the same “office.”  I predict that a given experienced blogger is likely to feel more sympathy for new bloggers, but on average I doubt if the new bloggers are better or more tolerant.

Which means we mostly have ourselves to blame.

Addendum: Nick Gillespie comments.

James H Whittemore November 19, 2011 at 2:33 am

Who (else) cares?
Online realities start to die when they begin discussing what they discuss more than what they discuss.
Close cover before striking.

anon November 19, 2011 at 9:09 am


Neil November 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Agree. The thought of this book makes me nauseous.

Skip Intro November 21, 2011 at 8:53 am


mulp November 19, 2011 at 4:58 am

As a liberal, I never see two sides, so that means “the other side” makes no sense. Maybe I’ve been heavily influenced by a career in engineering.

I see lots of complexity with many trade-offs and no simple rule that makes a choice easy.

And I rely on data/facts. And do constant compare and contrast, especially on economic matters. I compare the present day US to the 20s, the 30s, the 40s, the 50s…. I compare tax cuts with tax hikes and compare the aftermath. I compare US history in the 1780s to the EU battle over the ECB and the resolution that the conflict in 1786 produced to the future course of the EU.

I look at Heritage, Romney, Newt on health reform, and they make sense from a liberal, or engineering, point of view, and lead directly to the national health reform. So, on health care, I agree to the compromise of Heritage, Newt, and Romney circa 2007 and Obama since 2007. How can there be two sides in a debate on health reform between Romney, Newt, Heritage, and Obama? Disagreement on the compromises needed to move from principle to the real world with the existing highly complex US health care messy system, sure, but any reason person will agree to modify the trade-offs made as the implementation proceeds.

And the US Constitution is a mess as written, but they stated that in the first sentence – it was merely the starting point toward perfection.

Anyone who looks at things as simple “two sides” just rejects the principles of the US Constitution, and the process of evolution in the 22 decades since it was ratified. Even Rhode Island that represents the Tea Party Grover Norquist conservative “side” took the “side” of the other 12 States in the end.

To me, “taking America back” is about returning to 1786 when the news of the day was Shay’s Rebellion, an Occupy of the armory by vets to take back their property from the bankers and tax collectors who refused to take the Continentals the vets were paid for their service winning independence from those evil Brits. Mixed with a bit of the Bonus March.

Reading Jefferson’s letter on Shay’s Rebellion in its entirety is instructive – the meaning of “the tree of liberty is watered…” is very different than that of those who wear it on T-shirts or engraved on their guns. Jefferson was in effect rejecting the “two sides” framing of Shay’s Rebellion.

“Which means we mostly have ourselves to blame.” isn’t really appropriate for Tyler because Tyler doesn’t think in “two sides” and doesn’t blog in that unproductive way.

RM November 19, 2011 at 6:53 am

Well, I think it is just the human tendency to side with evidence that we believe support our underlying beliefs.

Dan November 19, 2011 at 8:03 am

Yep, 100% this. As self-publishing has become geometrically easier, and broadband access has exploded, it’s much much easier to surround yourself with fellow travelers.

Steve C. November 19, 2011 at 9:57 am

I appreciate the wonderful things the internet provides, but opinion writing is the definitive example of Gresham’s Law.

Jay November 19, 2011 at 7:09 am

Then there are people like Thoma and DeLong that allow comments from their sheeple while censoring any dissent. I call it the Kim Jong Il blog moderation policy.

Jay November 19, 2011 at 9:49 am

I bet Thoma doesn’t cover much of OWS because he squashes speech like the Oakland PD.

CBBB November 19, 2011 at 10:42 am

In fairness many blogs are too heavy handed with the comment censoring. Those guys over at Econlog (the supposed bastion of freedom) are absolutely as bad as Delong when it comes to censoring comments.

Lord November 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Or Manikiw who doesn’t allow comments at all.

Rahul November 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Not allowing comments is not as evil as selectively censoring them. Anyways, before the blogging era casual counter-critiques were almost non-existent.

Lord November 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm

No, it’s worse.

CBBB November 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm

As much as I dislike Mankiw’s no comments policy I think the censoring is worse. But you have to be honest, it’s not just Delong and Thoma who censor. The “libertarians” like Caplan, Kling, and Co. are really bad offenders in this regard – I mean you want to talk about Sheeple, that blog is like the internet equivalent of the Jim Jones People’s Temple.

Jay November 19, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Not allowing comments is an objective policy. Allowing “Anne” to post hundreds of lines of statistics (repeated pretty much weekly) because the statistics support your religion but then censor someone who takes the exact same format and posts statistics that do not support your religion, now that is a policy that would make Hitler proud.

Lord November 19, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Not moderating comments is an objective policy though it leads to a deterioration in discussion. No comments is a suppression of discussion.

Bumby November 19, 2011 at 9:05 am

As a reader, I have perceived a shift from people writing for the sake of a good argument to the tone of writing for a deadline. It seems like the objective to get the work out trumps the back-and-forth of a robust argument.

steve November 19, 2011 at 9:46 am

Perhaps their is little to engage about. The divorce attorneys call it irreconcilable differences.

WW of London November 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

Arianna Huffington, well since I can’t say anything nice about her…
The Huffington Post is Satlinesque in its moderation of posters who diverge, INTELLIGENTLY, from the party line there. Which is OK, after all this is a war.

Claudia Sahm November 19, 2011 at 10:41 am

Polarization in the labor market, polarization in Wasington, and now polarization on the blogs…great, another uplifting Saturday morning post. Keep up the good work.

Andrew' November 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

There is really very little we need to agree on.

Tim November 19, 2011 at 11:32 am

I find conservatives and liberal engage quite readily. Republicans and everyone else, not so much.

Becky Hargrove November 19, 2011 at 11:49 am

Some of us (especially when we’re 57 years old) have just been socially isolated for too long, and it takes time to learn the etiquette of the blogosphere. Plus there is the double handicap of 1) still learning the languages of economics and 2) learning the languages of the younger generations. So I die a thousand deaths and a few of them have been at Marginal Revolution! Even with the discord, sometimes the physical reality is worse, i.e. walking into a deli and everyone stops their conversation until you get up and leave. People do not trust one another now because social capital is so broken down. I continue to hope that social capital can be rebuilt in the blogosphere and eventually come back into the actual physical world that I refuse to give up on.

Lord November 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Conservatives have found rationality to their detriment to the point they expel those that fail to support their core beliefs. No longer capable of looking at data any more than superficially or winning an argument, they have formed a doctrinal church.

JWatts November 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

Was that sarcasm or irony? It’s hard to tell. ;)

Brian Donohue November 19, 2011 at 7:28 pm

FWIW Tyler, you strike me as more willing to examine your premises, keep an open mind, and be respectful of differing viewpoints than any other blogger I read, left or right. Keep it up.

Andreas Moser November 21, 2011 at 7:04 am

There are just TOO MANY political blogs. Plus my own: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/category/politics/

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