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June 21, 2006
Walking In Lockstep

The conservative blogosphere gets accused often of working off of "talking points" and coordinating our efforts. That's a fairly ludicrous charge, as anyone who really reads the starboard side of the 'sphere understands. Most of us support the Bush administration, but certainly do not offer carte blanche on all policies and efforts from either the White House or Congress. We also sometimes snipe at each other, usually politely but not always, and the latest such point came with the latest Ann Coulter brouhaha.

I can state pretty clearly that, as far as my involvement with conservative bloggers go, we have never sent around e-mails telling each other to not blog about an issue. According to The New Republic's Jason Zengerle, however, that's exactly what Markos Moulitsas did with several of the more prominent liberal bloggers, and apparently they obeyed:

TNR obtained a missive Kos sent earlier this week to "Townhouse," a private email list comprising elite liberal bloggers, including Jane Hamsher, Matt Stoller, and Christy Hardin Smith. And what was Kos's message to this group that secretly plots strategy in the digital equivalent of a smoke-filled backroom? Stay mum! He wrote (emphasis added below):
The YearlyKos media people have already forced corrections at Slate and NY Times (Suellentrop's blog). There has been some serious overreach by the few outlets that picked up this story (which as I mentioned before has been shopped around). It was interesting how this one piddly-ass story was used to try and smear Jerome, me, AND YearlyKos.

So the only paper to run this as a news story is the disgraceful NY Post. Others who picked up on it have had to backtrack from their original sensationalistic claims.

I am exploring legal options against some of the wingnut bloggers who are claiming I'm syphoning netroots money into consultants and my own pockets. Note how Glenn Reynolds is fueling it with his typical passive aggressive, "I don't think it's a big deal, but let me provide links to everyone who thinks this is THE BIGGEST STORY EVER!"

And Jerome's case, if it could be aired out, is a non-story (he was a poor grad student at the time so he settled because he had no money). Jerome can't talk about it now since the case is not fully closed. But once it is, he'll go on the offensive. That should be a couple of months off.

This story will percolate in wingnut circles until then, but I haven't gotten a single serious media call about it yet. Not one. So far, this story isn't making the jump to the traditional media, and we shouldn't do anything to help make that happen.

My request to you guys is that you ignore this for now. It would make my life easier if we can confine the story. Then, once Jerome can speak and defend himself, then I'll go on the offensive (which is when I would file any lawsuits) and anyone can pile on. If any of us blog on this right now, we fuel the story. Let's starve it of oxygen. And without the "he said, she said" element to the story, you know political journalists are paralyzed into inaction.

Thanks, markos

So far, Kos's friends in the fiercely independent liberal blogosphere seem to have displayed a sheep-like obedience to his dictat. And while it's true that Kos himself hinted at the controversy in this blog post yesterday, he didn't come anywhere close to addressing the questions that really matter. You might even call Kos and company's behavior in this whole affair just another case of politics as usual. So much for crashing the gates.

Quite frankly, the whole trope about stock touting has been a crashing bore, and I've avoided commenting about it -- because as far as I can see, Jerome handled the issue and it's over. I'm not sure why anyone else finds it fascinating other than as a potential issue about credibility, but Jerome posts opinions at MyDD. Almost all of us have day jobs doing something very different. And tying this back to the Dean campaign is very old news.

However, this revelation goes directly to credibility as bloggers. I can understand why Markos would make that request of close friends, but this seems to imply that Markos controls the content of several bloggers thought to have been independent voices. Most importantly, it's exactly the kind of coordination that the Left often tosses out as accusations against their political opponents -- and this shows a significant level of hypocrisy in those accusations.

It's not going to shut anyone down, nor should it. However, it should embarrass those involved, and readers should now consider themselves warned about the independence of their favorite bloggers.

UPDATE: Stirling Newberry calls this TNR accusation "libel", but all he offers in response is that some people commented on the issue. He doesn't provide any links, nor does he explain the central thrust of the TNR post -- which is that Markos apparently feels comfortable asking bloggers to stay silent about a story, and none of the bloggers who received Markos' request thought it strange enough to object on their blogs.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 21, 2006 5:40 PM

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