Atrios has just published a request for donations to John Aravosis, who did most of the heavy lifting on the Gannon-Guckert story but who has also done a lot of other good work. Aravosis wants to be able to work full time on political stuff, and he’s shown that he’s good at it. I endorse this drive, and let me throw in Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerilla. Susie has a media background and is job-hunting, and she should be doing political writing for pay.
This brings up my pet theme: Democrats need their own media. Amateurism and voluntarism are fine, but you don’t want to be in a position of depending on it. If someone’s doing valuable work, they should be paid for it. People with jobs and families (who also want to have lives) should not be expected to make enormous sacrifices forever for their political cause.
There’s a lot of money out there. The DNC spent over a half a billion dollars in 2004. There are dozens of foundations and political groups spending tons of money. So why aren’t John and Susie and Billmon and Steve Gilliard and my partner Dave Johnson and a couple of dozen others fully funded?
Dozens of mercenary, treacherous, and incompetent consultants have milked the Democrats for tens or hundreds of millions of dollars over the last fifteen years or so. The outcome has been the near-destruction of the Democratic party. Couldn’t some of that cash have gone to some of the people I just named?
This isn’t really a blogosphere thing. Blogging is just the place where new people with new ideas happened to be able to make their voice heard. It has more to do with the domination of the media and the Democratic Party by an old-boy network of credentialized and well-connected mercenaries skilled at losing elections.
In the media and in the larger society, there’s little place for a partisan Democrat or a strong liberal. Not just media people, but even Democratic officeholders and party workers know that if they want to have a future and further their careers, they have to be moderates who are able to get along with Republicans. That’s why the liberal media are so chicken.(And that’s where the treachery comes from: Stephanopolous, Estrich, Chris Matthews, and dozens of retired-officeholder lobbyists).
Bob Somerby tells the truth about the media, but no one will back him because that would kill their careers. What we need is a new media where Bob Somerby and people like him could make a real living.
I’ve been told and told that the money is there, but I don’t see any of it being passed around. I’ve been told and told that the blogosphere is doing important work and that people appreciate it, but I don’t see anything more real than occasional pats on the head.
Partly, I suppose, it’s the control of the Democratic party by a coterie of incompetent leeches who’re protecting their turf. Partly it’s because Democrats with money are, as the right is happy to point out, decadent hedonists who have lots of fun things to spend their money and time on. Partly it’s probably because Democrats are almost all credentialed organization insiders promoting people similar to themselves. (Certainly the populist streak of the Democratic Party is ancient history by now – Republican populists are total fakes, but Democrats are constitutionally incapable of telling anyone that.)
Is this sour grapes? Damn right it is! I would have been willing to work 30 hrs. a week doing internet stuff for 400$/ mo. plus medical insurance — roughly what McDonald’s would pay. Did I have any realistic possibility of getting that? No. Maybe I’m just not good enough, but what about all the other people I mentioned?
George W. Bush should have been vulnerable during the 2004 election because of his favoritism toward the Saudis, and I spent a whole month documenting that and published the results here. But no one showed any interest and the Democrats refused to pick the issue up; when Michael Moore talked about the Saudis and Bush, the big Democrats ran home and hid under the covers.
The Swift Boat Liars played a major role in destroying Kerry’s campaign. Along with the now-retired Hesiod, I spent another month researching various smear groups of that type, and published the results here. Again, no interest from the Democrats, and I’ve been told that everyone in the Kerry campaign was told in no uncertain terms to have nothing to do with the blogosphere.
And the loser who made that disastrous decision is still doing very well for himself or herself, and I’ve given up even wishing for $300/ mo. They say that things have changed, but I don’t see it happening.