Both Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy and James Rummel of Chicago Boyz (via Instapundit) have weighed in on the Great Lefty Netroot Querulously Outstretched Hands Scandal – yes, the name needs work – and I thought that I’d just combine my commentary on both. First, Eugene was right to note that there’s something a little odd about demanding advertising from an organization just because you’re using them as a resource… oh, did I just type that out?
Silly me; that’s the dirty little secret that the Lefty blogs don’t really want to talk about (although Rummel will, and does). What the Online Left sells to its readership is relevance: at least, at the top levels – which is really the level that matters on that side. When you read them, you’re reading a site that’s connected. You have access… or, at least, you’re reading someone who has access; and that person swears and makes rude statements, so you know that you’re not reading just some pundit. No, you’re reading someone who is a gateway between you, and the people who matter.
Which is actually not so bad, except that the people who are these gateways are feeling kind of resentfully entitled; after all, aren’t they part of the system now? But as Rummel notes:
By allowing the blogs to be part of their political strategy, to include them in the process, [the Democratic establishment is] granting them legitimacy. The result is more readers for the blogs who play ball with the Dems, since the readers are looking for the inside scoop.
So both sides are talking past each other. The bloggers think they should have some kind of financial reward for publicizing the Liberal agenda, and the Democrats think the blogs are being rewarded already when they are allowed to participate in the process.
There’s also the more prosaic fact that there’s no reason why, say, the DCCC should pay for advertising on any progressive blog; most of the readers don’t need to be reminded that they have to send in their vacation money in order to get more Blue Dogs elected. Or the minor detail – which I don’t think that either Rummel or Volokh noted – that a lot of the stuff that gets said on the front pages of a lot of these sites is prime opposition ad fodder. While both of these problems for the netroots aren’t going to go away, the misplaced sense of entitlement will probably overshadow both for the foreseeable future.
As for what the Online Right should do so as to avoid this fate… well, what we do now, really. Encourage groups that would like to advertise among our various readerships to place ads (you cannot tell me that there are not progressive-friendly companies that don’t want a shot at targeted advertising towards progressives). Keep an eye out for financing opportunities that won’t restrict our options or moral sense. Build traffic. Don’t expect a handout. Grumble. [Final two sentences removed as not being RedState-relevant: see my personal site, if you’re curious.]