The Coming Anti-Hillary Blogswarm–from the Left?

Natasha Celine of Pacific Views (and a veteran blogger of the “sleepless summer” of Howard Dean) writes to me:

The idea of Hillary Clinton running for president really sounded good to me right after her 2000 campaign, but she killed my enthusiasm with her votes and public statements. She’s wandered between Republican apologist, warmonger, ‘moral’ crusader and ardent supporter of women’s rights. Or maybe healthcare. As if the last things should make up for all the rest of it, as if Democratic politicians haven’t figured out that supporting women’s rights and better health care is literally the least they can do. A floor, if you will, as opposed to a ceiling. It would be putting it mildly to say that I’m disinterested in her candidacy.

See her entire letter in DOCUMENTS section in left sidebar.

Also: “Sonoma” comments on Bob Kunst’s open letter to Hillary Clinton: “No one- and I mean no one- despises the Bushites GOP more than I. But if HC somehow managed to gain the presidential nomination, I would refuse to vote Democratic for the first time, as measured in decades.”

Background: Before the 2004 race, Rhodes Cook argued that “Once the primary voting begins, it is arguable that pragmatism trumps ideology. For the candidates that have done best of late in the primaries have not been the ideologically pure of heart but those who are best funded, best networked, and most capable of rallying their party’s base in its broadest form.” Kerry’s nomination was another case study in such pragmatism by party regulars hungry for victory. But the left of the Democratic “party’s base in its broadest form”–folks like Kunst, Kos, Soto, Gilliard, and Celine, will, I think, argue that (a) so-called pragmatic Democrats keep losing–with Clinton as an exception in many ways–and (b) it is fundamentally disingenuous to shift principles and policy positions to ape polling data and focus groups reports. [Read more…]

Bloggers as Local Content Creators

As I noted in another post, Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, characterized blogging by the following: “Bloggers recycle and chew on the news. That’s not bad. But it’s not enough.” Just today, (“Reliable Sources“, 01/01/06) Howard Kurtz, in the midst of a discussion about the decline in newspaper circulation, commented (with a smile) that bloggers, as you know, have a grand old time kicking around the MSM, the mainstream media, but if newspapers went away tomorrow, where would they get their information? In both cases, they meant that bloggers just “chew” and “talk” about big news items in big media venues.

This is obsolete analysis at several levels. It is based, partly, on vanity–the “mirror effect”: big time national journalists only read blog posts that are about them, and assume that all blogging is reflective of (and reflexively aimed at) them!

Let me offer one example here–I elaborate on dozens more in my book BLOGWARS–of bloggers who are creating original content at the local level. [Read more…]

Is Kos the King or the Kingmaker–Oops…

Mickey Kaus responds to a previous PolicyByBlog post on HC, the grassroots and blogging:

Hillary’s Secret Challenger; Now he can be revealed. By Mickey Kaus/Updated Monday, Jan. 2, 2006, at 4:57 AM ET

Hillary vs. the Blogs, cont.: From David Perlmutter–

Politicians have always needed to balance the base and the middle. Blogs make this tension, if not more difficult, more public.

Emphasis not added, but appropriate. Perlmutter writes seriously and smartly about Hillary Clinton’s dilemma in this regard, though:

a) He takes Kos rather too seriously, calling him “a political kingmaker.” (Oh yeah? Name the king);

b) He underemphasizes the extent to which Hillary’s character–specifically her innate and exaggerated caution, calculation, and need for control–makes her a particularly bad match for the blog age, maybe as bad a match as Nixon or LBJ were for the TV age in 1960. Perlmutter notes that blogs and blog readers reward risk-taking passion and honesty. That he then actually mulls over the question of whether Clinton herself should blog–treating her dilemma as the same dilemma faced by any frontrunner, as if there were any hope that her blog would ever be worthwhile–shows that he doesn’t fully appreciate Hillary’s characterological inhospitability to the blogger virtues. … [Read more…]

Do Bloggers Wear Political Blinders?


Earlier I discussed the issue of whether bloggers wore political blinders, that is they tended to only read, quote and trust other blogs of the same political feather. By bloggers, of course, we mean both people who edit blogs, that is have their own blog and the greater number of people who read and/or comment within blogs. I argued that while this stereotype was in part true, based on my studies of my students, it was not a black and white world, of, say, conservative blogs and blog editors and readers never reading Daily Kos or MYDD.

One research study on this question–which did not look at blog readers but blogs themselves–reinforces the view that partisan readership is a tendency not a chasm.

A study by Lada Adamic (of HP Labs) & Natalie Glance (of Intelliseek) of posts and blogrolls of “A-List” liberal and conservative blogs between the period of August 29, 2004 and November 15, 2004 found that partisan bloggers tended to cite and blogroll their own, that is, liberal blogs referenced other liberal blogs and conservatives referenced other conservative blogs. Bloggers, however, did regularly reference mainstream media–although of course they may have done so toward negative criticism–but there was a greater likelihood for conservative bloggers to reference conservative periodicals such as the Washington Times, the New York Post, Wall Street Journal Opinion Online, and Fox News, while liberal bloggers tended to reference liberal mainstream sources such as, the Los Angeles Times, and the New Republic. The top three cited mainstream news sources for both left and right bloggers were the Yahoo news service, Washington, and [Read more…]

BLOGWARS (The Book) Inches Closer to Publication!

This website began as an extension of a book–BLOGWARS–that I am writing about political blogs. But blogs are forever unfinished, their work always to be continued, revised, and extended later. Describing political blogging in a book that takes a year (and now much more!) to research and write and another to publish is like giving NASCAR commentary via stone tablets. Snapshots of the big picture of blogs will be dated by the time you read the book. But that is the point: A blogger’s work is never done, nor, I hope, is that of a student of blogs. You post an item but you cannot then triumphantly declare your mission completed as you could with a printed book or an academic journal article. Your blog readership, if you have one, expects you to return again and again to old issues or to move on to new ones. You cannot coast or rest on your laurels; your readers will abandon you or, worse, ask why you are failing them. That implied ellipsis at the end of every essay or post in a blog, of course, is one of the crucial features of blogstyle and content that make it often a joint enterprise rather than a monologue.

That said, BLOGWARS is now up on the Oxford website and is scheduled for April 2007 release! No one who has not written a book can understand the romance of seeing your ISBN for the first time:

ISBN13: 9780195305579

ISBN10: 0195305574 hardback, 256 pages

The moderate price, $20.00, reflects that it is being pubbed by the trade division of Oxford.  It would have been $90.00 if it was classified as an “academic” text–but then it would have been a different book. [Read more…]

Interview with polblogger Tony Trupiano (Democratic candidate for Congress)

Shearon Roberts, an LSU Masters Student working for the Wall Street Journal, conducted a series of interviews with interesting and innovative political bloggers as a project for a class I taught. She talked to Tony Trupiano (Democratic candidate for Congress in Michigan’s 11th district) who blogs at:

How involved are you in operating the blog, making posts and reading comments?

The blog is one of the few things that I am 98% present in. I do my own blogging, I do read the blog. I think it’s a great communication too. I think it is an opportunity…you give people access…not so much to the candidate but to the process. I find blogging to be almost therapeutic at times. And it’s a great communications tool.

How frequently is the blog updated?

At least once a week. I mean if I had time, I’d love to do it everyday. And I’ve kind of kind of fought this idea that somebody else can blog for me. For me that takes away from authenticity. So once a week, twice a week, sometimes more but I try to blog about something at least once a week.

How is the blog designed, is it a true blog–a strict daily diary or a mix of website features and posts? What is the writing style or tone of the blog?

Depending on the topic really depends on the tone (of writing). Not too long ago we had a major automotive plant close in my area and so that was much more personal. If I’m blogging about policy, obviously that’s going to be a bit more academic. So it’s the whole spectrum, it’s not just one style. [Read more…]

Should Book Authors Blog?

I begin my new Oxford University Press book BLOGWARS by claiming, only half facetiously, that there are good reasons not to write a book on political blogs and the rise of interactive social media’s role in campaigns, elections, and public affairs and policy-making. My analogy is that d escribing political blogging in a book that took three years to research and write and another year to publish is like reporting a NASCAR race with stone tablets. I think I captured the origins of politicking via social media like blogs (and now YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) through October 2007, and so far my predictions of the 2008 race have been pretty good. New stuff is happening so fast, though, that it’s hard to keep up.

But that is the point: A blogger’s work is never done, nor, I hope, is that of a student of blogs. Bloggers cannot coast or rest on their laurels; their readers will abandon them or, worse, ask why they are failing them. Blogs are always unfinished, their work always to be continued, revised, and extended later. Books are supposed to be different. In a sense all books are orphans. Only in some screwball comedy movie is it possible for an author to change his mind and run into bookstores and add new material.

With BLOGWARS, however, Oxford Press’ author’s blog and the Internet allow me to “follow up” in a way that previous generations of authors could only do in second editions. In a way, it has to be so. The age of the author writing the non-fiction book and walking away from her re aders is dead: long live the afterpost! I say this knowing it is against the instincts of most authors, including me: When I finish a book (BLOGWARS is my seventh) I want to walk away and be done with it…but that model of authorship can’t sustain itself anymore. If you want to write non-fiction nowadays you have to keep writing it long after the bookstores have your tome on the shelf. [Read more…]


This blog was started when I began writing a book about political blogs: BLOGWARS: THE NEW AMERICAN POLITICAL BATTLEGROUND. Now, finally, the book is out from Oxford University Press.

More about the book on OUP’s site.

Some early publicity:

–Interviewed by Ohio public radio–it is available on podcast.

–Excerpted on the “page 99 test” blog.

–Reviewed by Joseph Rosenbloom in the Boston Globe.

Originally posted March 26, 2008 at PolicyByBlog


I was interviewed by Chris Hopkins for the Washington Post about political blogging. It was a webchat with him typing my responses to live questions. An edited transcript follows.
Friday, May 2 at noon ET
David D. Perlmutter: Journalism Professor, University of Kansas.
Friday, May 2, 2008; 12:00 PM
online to explain how and to what extent political blogs influence campaigns and legislation, and how they serve to improve democracy and enrich political culture.
David D. Perlmutter: My name is David Perlmutter, and I’m a professor at the University of Kansas, and for years I’ve researched political communication, and three or four years ago I started paying attention to a raucous new venue for political communication, blogging. I saw it particularly in the Dean campaign. My new book, BLOGWARS, tracks the rise of political blogs in prominence and influence in general, the entry of political blogger into the corridors of political power and their integration into the campaigns as workers rather than fringe outsiders, and looking at the social interactive media — Facebook and YouTube, etc. — and how they’re changing the face of elections.
Seattle: What is the proper role of blogs in politics? Is it to offer an outsider’s take on events from someone who didn’t receive a White House Correspondents’ Dinner invitation? Or is it to offer expert analysis on a subject where professional journalists have none?
David D. Perlmutter: Well, I think there’s no “proper” role — rather bloggers have seized or been offered every potential role in politics. You find candidates blogging, bloggers working for campaigns, people working as blog outreach coordinators for campaigns, you see people making comments and writing opinions — traditional blogging — but you also see original reporting, covering caucuses and even interviewing candidates and campaign officials. It’s gone from just being a few outsiders making comments to being insiders — journalists are blogging, professional political people are blogging, and it’s become popular inside and outside of the game. [Read more…]

BLOGWARS on the DAILY SHOW with Jon Stewart (May 8)

I am scheduled to be on the DAILY SHOW with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central this Thursday (May 8) to talk about political blogging and my book, BLOGWARS. Everyone’s first piece of advice for me about being a good guest: Don’t try to be funny. I think I can manage that…

The Daily Show has become an institution of American politics very much linked to a culture where people–especially younger voters–seek out political information from non-traditional sources. [A KU student (Nathan Rodriguez) in our school’s master’s program is writing his thesis on the show, to some extent based on his time as an intern.] The show is part of the political culture it satirizes and, in some cases, influences it. The show is considered a source of information, an explainer of politics, and of course a “speaker” of (funny) truth to power.

TDS’s effects are hard to quantify: Think in terms of Saturday Night Live‘s “effect” on the Clinton-Obama race! However, there is a small but growing area of research that looks at its role in politics and political socialization. A 2004 Annenberg Election Survey found that TDS viewers have “higher campaign knowledge than national news viewers and newspaper readers—even when education, party identification, following politics, watching cable news, receiving campaign information online, age, and gender are taken into consideration.”

Jon Stewart was rated the fourth “most admired journalist in America” in a 2007 survey by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Another Pew study found that regular viewers of The Daily Show and its sister Colbert Report had among highest levels of knowledge about news and public affairs among any group of new consumers. [Read more…]