Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


The Media

I haven't gone on a politically-tinged rant for a while, but after watching last night's Nightline, I feel one coming on.

On their website, between such hard-hitting topics as "Man-purses: Hot or not", "Could You Catch Fire During Surgery?" and "Man Puts Puppy in Pants" Nightline has posted a four-page transcript an interview with Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos, who is getting a lot of media attention as "the World's Most Powerful Liberal Blogger" and other such titles. I find Kos interesting: he's unabashedly opinionated; his family fled a war-torn country when he was a child, he served in the Army during Gulf War I (though he was not deployed to the region), he entered the army as a Republican and has somehow ended up as "the World's Most Powerful Liberal Blogger" and a supposed "kingmaker" for Democratic candidates. As with Glenn Greenwald and Kevin Phillips (a former Republican electoral analyst amd author of The Emerging Republican Majority"), I'm always interested in the personal stories of people who started out in different circumstances than my own and yet end up standing beside me on political issues. So I tuned in.

What I noticed about the version of the interview that aired on television, compared to the four-page transcript, is that many things Markos said that clarified a position or statement were missing. His harsh words for slain for-profit mercenaries, a two-year-old comment that he's repeatedly called to justify or defend, are thoroughly explained in the transcript (his loyalties lie with his enlisted brothers and sisters who are doing their duty for the country and not waging war for personal profit, how our soldiers are being killed and maimed and burned by the hundreds and how offended he was at the overblown attention the mercs for hire got in the news) but are cut short in the televised interview. In the transcript he spends a great deal of time trying to explain that DailyKos is a community; the forum bears his name but there are a great many people who participate, who blog about their own local issues or pet interests and get involved in discussions, activism, debates, and disagreements. In the televised version, the reporter is seen restating the idea over and over again that Kos is the power, sending his minions out to do his bidding; then, changing tactics, the interviewer stresses that the DailyKos picks in the last election were overwhelmingly defeated, cutting out most of Kos's explanation of what they're trying to do in local and regional elections.

All this is pretty common and not at all surprising to me. It's the nature of print versus television. It's the nature of the way the whole story was being framed: big, bad liberal bloggers "bringing down" loyal Democrat Joe Lieberman. Kos is well aware that he's "flavor of the month" and it's a big deal at the moment to focus on him because he's got a big, popular blog and this blog thing is hot. And the segment is only a few minutes long... only so much can be covered, things have to be edited down and kept snappy and exciting. Nature of the beast and all that.

What I wasn't prepared for and was truly shocked at, though, was the interviewer's voice-over focus on Kos's personal life, particularly his finances. For example, at one point on camera Kos is asked how much he makes. Cut to his "I make an excellent living. Absolutely...I bought a house in Berkeley, so obviously I'm doing good enough for that." The interviewer then comments in smarmy voice-over as we watch Markos playing the piano, "And good enough to buy a new grand piano to replace this one, which seemed to work well enough...." Oh, I see how it is. Buying pianos when his old piano still "seemed to work well", eh? Frivolous! I mean, the house in Berkeley is one thing, but piano buying? Liberal! Elitist! Very suspicious...

Seriously, what the hell? When Ann Coulter is invited to talk about her latest manifesto, when she yowls about evil environmentalists and their "repudiation of America and Christian destiny, which is Jet Skis, steak on the electric grill, hot showers, and night skiing", do people stop to ask her what kind of living she makes or comb over her recent purchases? Are frivolous pianos the cut-off? Are only homes in Berkeley worth commentary or are $1.8-million houses in Palm Beach also worth a little sneering condescension? How does endorsing a candidate that your former business partner has gone to work for compare to committing voter fraud? I ask again, seriously, what the hell?


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