The Year of Being Kossetted

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In the wake of Yearly Kos, John Dickerson at Slate poses a good, wicked question: will bloggers continue to keep the mainstream media honest when its latest hype and lie is a mad infatuation with bloggers? Will bloggers puncture the hype when they are its beneficiaries? Not likely, but it’ll make their (our) inevitable deflation all the more humiliating:

[P]olitical reporters are notorious suckers for this kind of novel new underground movement [ . . . ] Journalists respond especially gullibly to the arrival of new constituencies with an air of prairie-fire authenticity. Some of these movements, like the Proposition 13 tax revolt in California, turn out to be as transformative as the avatars predict, and more so. But a larger number of themâ€â€?like the “Rock the Vote” youth registration movementâ€â€?turn out to be massively overblown, hype phenomena with little lasting impact.

Another positive quality of the blogging community is its general allergy to unsupported media hype. But can bloggers maintain their skeptical posture when it’s their 15 minutes of fame? Will the bloggers denounce the mainstream media coverage of their movement when the message is that blogging activists are, as Markos puts it, a “force to be reckoned with” [? . . . ] The test is whether bloggers will keep the press honest about the real, measurable political impact of the blogosphere. [ . . . ]

It’s not in bloggers’ short-term interest to knock down the story of their own throw-weight, but it may be to their long-term benefit. Not only do bloggers lose standing as critics if they stop being critical, but insufficient wariness will lead to an inevitable messy breakup. Media infatuations never last. When expectations get too high, the press reverses itself [ . . . P]olitical reporters will turn on bloggers if the promised revolution doesn’t materialize in the form of a Democratic sweep in the midterms. We are probably just under five months away from a wave of coverage positing that bloggers weren’t that powerful after all.

(See also Mighty Middle on “The Notroots.”)

Which brings us back to the theme of Democrats’ dangerous premature gloating. Hey Markos, can you say “Howard Dean”?

Cross-posted at AmbivaBlog

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