Getting Meta -- The Gap
The Hotline is a very expensive subscription newsletter that covers Washington DC politics. It defines itself as being for insiders. For a certain set of people, if it wasn't in the Hotline, it didn't happen. William Butler has been covering blogs for the Hotline, and recently wrote an op ed for the Washington Examiner that was a little bit sloppy, for which Blogospheric Young Turk Matt Stoller took him to task. The details there are interesting if you're into the mechanics of party politics, but I'll skip them for now.
The point is that Butler took the opportunity to respond in a more open (e.g. longer than 700 word) format on MyDD with In Defense of Hotline's William Beutler (By Hotline's William Beutler). It's getting digested in various places, but here's the quote (and bolded money-line) I want to riff on:
Markos is fond of saying that the neroots aren't about ideology. That may be so, although I wonder if Matt [Stoller] disagrees, as he criticizes me for saying "woe to" a Dem politician who misreads the blogosphere -- it's not rocket science, he says. Not to him, to be sure. But he might consider the fact that a lot of smart people find the blogosphere particularly inscrutable.
William's post is a Good Thing™. It's far too rare that journalists take the opportunity to engage with their Public, and that's really what all this is about. Now, about that bit I bolded...
To the degree that the Blogosphere is "about" anything, it's about a redistribution of power engineered through rather radical changes in how (and to whom) information flows. This is pretty simple, but it means doing business differently. It means working more openly, and dare I say more honestly.
This is true on both the right and the left, and I actually think it's more of a political problem for Republicans. Openness naturally cuts against the monolitic "message discipline" they've come to rely on, and it will make it harder and harder for them to hold on to their more unsavory (crypto-racist, homophobic, misogynist, corpulently corporatist, etc) coalition members.
But back to the Hotline. It's a bit of a simplification, but it seems like there really is an establishment out there which is typified by Hotline's brand of journalism -- an expensive, insiders-only, limited distribution channel of information. The blogosphere is pretty much the opposite: free (as in beer and as in freedom), open, publicly distributed networks for filtering and distributing facts and opinions.
This all seems like the most natural thing in the world to me and mine. What other way could you possibly want to be? I'm only realizing lately the extent to which there are intelligent people who have been working in another fashion for years and years for whom these ideas are utterly terrifying and/or completely inscrutable.
It's not an age thing -- there are plenty of student body presidents younger than me just itching to start climbing the old-school ladder -- but there is something akin to a generation gap here.
Interesting stuff to ponder.