I was really impressed by the WSJ article Nag linked over at the front page “hairshirt” story.  It seems to indicate that liberal bloggers have a lot more of the “netroots” power they have been seeking–to influence the MSM’s coverage of issues–than I would have guessed:


After a slow start in the U.S., a half-dozen liberal activists are having some success in making the documents fodder for Capitol Hill rhetoric and White House news briefings.
[T]he activists believe that a grass-roots Internet campaign to prod the U.S. media into covering them is yielding fruit.
The current Internet pressure from the left is reminiscent of a publicity battle waged by conservatives during Mr. Bush’s re-election run that questioned Democrat John Kerry’s service as a Swift Boat commander in Vietnam and his antiwar activity that followed.
In mid-May, three regular readers of Daily Kos, a liberal blog, published their own Web site to publicize the documents.
They were joined later by three other Daily Kos readers, including Bob Fesmire, husband of the Silicon Valley Web designer.
The idea to target news operations came from Michael Clark, a Pennsylvania professor of ancient history and occasional poster to Daily Kos who didn’t know the Fesmires before joining the effort. Mr. Clark said he knew nothing about running such a campaign but decided to contact three media outlets a day, including the likes of C-Span, the Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal.

On June 3, the group directed messages to NBC. On June 6, MSNBC did a segment on the Downing Street memo. On June 9, Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC’s evening newscast, posted a request for a truce on his Internet blog: “One more note to those of you who are part of the mass email project on the so-called Downing Street Memo: That’s enough, we get it…it’s an important story…and all you’re doing now is taking up computer space. We’re well aware of the story, we’ve covered it, and likely will again.”
Overall, the efforts appear to be working. A search of U.S. publications and television news-program transcripts shows that in the two weeks after the London Times broke its story, the Downing Street memo was mentioned fewer than 100 times. The phrase has appeared nearly 800 times since Mr. Clark’s efforts began, although it isn’t clear the extent to which this is the result of his campaign.
Mr. Fesmire, the group’s spokesman, said he is often asked who is really behind Downingstreetmemo.com and what kind of support it is receiving from national liberal groups. The truth, he said, is hard for some people to swallow.

“It really is just six people, and I don’t even know the name[s] of two of them,” he said. “People find it hard to believe it when I tell them that for a $20 Web-hosting fee, you too can get something like this going.”

Wow.  I am just so amazed, and thrilled, by this.  Not because of the effect on the DSM issue itself, which is pretty much a non-issue to me, but because of the potential this hints at.  If the ball keeps rolling this way, we might actually get the MSM to cover:

–global poverty and its roots in the predatory capitalism of multinational corporations;

–the multitiered U.S. “justice” system, and how sharply it is tilted against poor and minority defendants;

–the Bush admin’s stealth attacks on the environment, and their use of “crony capitalism” to enrich their friends and campaign donours;


Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

I do have a nagging worry, though, that there might be a fundamental energy about these types of campaigns that lends itself more to quixotic quests–like, say, attempting to get Howard Dean elected, or to get Bush impeached–than to serious sustained progressive efforts like those I outlined.

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