Two points I'd like to stress right off the bat. First of all, I like the Washington Monthly and its writers. I have nothing against the publication. If this was a hit piece, I'd sink my teeth into this and fire back in glee. But I've got no bone to pick except for the fact that the piece created a Bizarro Markos that might be accurate in some parallel bizarro universe, but not in this one.
Second of all, I don't want publications to shy away from featuring bloggers because they could suffer a backlash from that blog's readers. But publications do have to understand -- unlike most of their subjects, we can respond to mistakes very publicly. That doesn't mean they'll get attacked. Other reporters have done accurate profiles of me without generating hostility. It's just that they should, well, make sure the facts are accurate. And not because we're bloggers, but because it's the right thing to do.
Keep in mind, the author of that piece flew out to California to interview me. He had my email address and my phone number. A fact checker called and asked me to verify my quotes. There was no reason, in a piece dedicated to talking about me, for the author to not ask me about the factual claims made in the piece. Publications do so all the time, and all for the better.
Finally, no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. I've had some doozies. But as you'll see on the flip, this isn't a matter of a few flubs or difference in interpretations. There's some of that, and I make a note of it. But the sheer number of factual mistakes is staggering.
But whatever. Too much "ado". So no more of it. On the flip, the comprehensive response.
And yet there he was, just after the 2004 elections, in the ornate Lyndon B. Johnson room of the capitol where he'd been invited to give Senate Democrats a post mortem on what went wrong.
I've never been to the Capitol, so that couldn't have been me. I did speak to the Senate caucus at a small conference room at the Kennedy Center. I wouldn't mind seeing that ornate room, though. Hopefully I will soon.
As he held forth, urging Democrats to rely upon technology and embrace partisanship and confrontation, Moulitsas's audience was one-part bewildered, one-part overwhelmed, and maybe a little inspired.
I had a power point presentation which Matt Stoller helped me prepare. In it, I 1) explained what a blog was, with examples of comments, diaries, etc. 2) I said, "Blogs aren't ATMs, they are the beginning of a progressive noise machine. And 3) ignore blogs at your peril, see what happened to Daschle. There was nothing about confrontation or partisanship. I never spoke about strategy.
The site, which has existed for only around three and a half years, now has 3.7 million readers each week. That's more than the top 10 opinion magazines--of both left and right--combined [...]
That's probably not accurate. The author was probably working off traffic stats which measure visits. But the same person can visit multiple times a week (not to mention per day). If I had to guess, I'd say the numbers are closer to 500K people who visit at least once a week. But that's at best an educated guess.
Those numbers are still probably more than the top opinion mags combined, however.
In addition, Moulitsas used the site to raise $500,000 for Democratic candidates in the last election cycle
The number was actually over $1 million.
Every third week, Moulitsas has a standing phone call with congressional powerbroker Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-Ill.)
I've never talked to Rahm. I've never met him. The DCCC had a couple of blogger conference calls in which Rahm participated but I didn't join in. So perhaps the confusion is based on this. But in that case, that "access" would be no greater than that given to other bloggers. And in any case I don't think those conference calls happen every three weeks.
and he talks regularly with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
I've actually talked to Harry a couple of times for a few seconds. Considering Reid's war room has a netroots guy, I do communicate with his office regularly, but in no different manner than any reporter who covers politics as a beat. Reporters talk to the communications director, I talk to the guy who answers my emails.
But it's not just an empty gesture. Moulitsas has become so well incorporated into the party machinery that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) uses him to recruit candidates. "They get calls from, like John Edwards, and maybe Tom Vilsack, and then, always, Markos," one DCCC staffer told me.
That staffer is a liar. I have never made a recruitment call for the DCCC. I've never made a call for the DCCC period. I've talked to ONE congressional candidate this cycle and it had nothing to do with the DCCC.
The myth of Karl Rove, which looms over American politics, and the conviction that the party's wins or losses are a matter of tactics, not substance, has left the Democrats looking for their own master tactician. And some in the party seem to want to see Moulitsas in that role.
I don't know if "some" in the party want to see me as a Karl Rove, but if so they're idiots. I'm not a political tactician. I'm a political observer and critic, for better or for worse.
And when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee threw a party for him and some other bloggers at last year's Boston convention, he arrived, immediately picked a loud, disruptive fight with the organization's executive director, Jim Bonham, and stormed out.
Threw a party for me? That's weird formulation. They threw a "blogger bash". It had nothing to do with me other than I was one of many bloggers around at the time. And actually, Bonham came up to me and started the fight. In fact, startled DCCC staffers told me the week after that Bonham did so on purpose in order to show the blogosphere who was boss. Or something weird like that.
Moulitsas lives here with his wife, a reporter from Wired News,
Former reporter. She's a stay-at-home mother and is going back to school to get a new degree in the spring.
Moulitsas was born in Chicago to a middle class, ethnically-Greek family from El Salvador
My father was Greek from Greece (Crete, to be exact), my mother is Salvadoran. So it wasn't an ethnically-Greek family from El Salvador, but a Greek who married into a Salvadoran family.
After high school, Moulitsas, then a Reagan Republican thanks largely to the White House's support of the Salvadorean government, spent four years as an army artillery scout, mainly in Germany.
I wasn't an artillery scout. I was a fire direction specialist. I processed fire missions for MLRS missile batteries. I was essentially the middle man between the scouts out finding targets, and the missile batteries who hit those targets.
he became active in campus politics, writing a column for the school paper and helping to lead the college's Hispanic student group.
I ran the student newspaper. I didn't run any Hispanic student group in college. I did run the Latin American Law Student Association while in law school.
Unemployed, Moulitsas, started posting comments on a site called MyDD.com, the most insidery of the emerging liberal blogs. During late 2001 and early 2002, he developed a following, for the strength and clarity of his denunciations of the Bush administration. Moulitsas started his own blog,
I started Daily Kos, then started posting on MyDD. And my comments on MyDD were almost exclusively about poll numbers. MyDD wasn't the place to rant against Bush. It was a strictly numbers-based elections blog.
It made them think Democrats were going to win. Moulitsas wasn't just posting any polls, he was selecting those that suggested Democrats--from John Kerry to congressional candidates--were heading for victory,
I posted all polls. We might've trash the ones we didn't like, but I didn't pick and choose. All polls were posted. Keep in mind that pollsters like Zogby though Kerry was going to win. Had undecideds broken for the challenger as had been historically the case, Kerry might've won. Instead, the undecideds broke tradition by choosing the incumbent. There was nothing unreasonable in the belief that Kerry would win.
Worse, Kos hadn't just fared poorly as an armchair quarterback--he'd been beaten on the field, too. In the Democratic primaries, he first backed Dean, then Wesley Clark. Both sparked grassroots excitement, but ultimately, of course, flamed out. Then, of the 13 Democratic candidates for Congress that Moulitsas handpicked for his readers to support--and for whom he raised over $500,000- not a single one prevailed.
Dean flamed out right into the DNC chairmanship. And the movement, which was a fraction of its current size in 2003, continues to grow.
As for the Kos Dozen, all of them losing would've been a problem if my goal was victory. But the goal, and one readers and donors knew very well, was to spread the playing field and force Republicans to play defense. And it worked wonderfully against Marilyn Musgrave and Tom DeLay. So not a factual mistake, just a wilful ignoring of the stated goal of that effort.
What's more, people like Martin Frost have now endorsed a 50-state, contest-every-district strategy. Event the ones that aren't supposedly winnable.
And why do people who like to criticize me for this always seem to forget Stephanie Herseth and Ben Chandler?
Three days before the scheduled unveiling [of my anti-DLC campaign], Moulitsas wrote that he'd changed his mind. Hurricane Katrina, which had just struck, had made him realize, he said, that this was not the time for intra-party bickering. "We think someone got to him," a DLC staffer told me darkly.
Nah. What happened was this -- there was a heavy media component to what I had planned. However, when Katrina struck, all media attention was focused on Katrina and the aftermath. The effort would've been a failure and, really, would've seen quite petty considering what was happening in the Gulf Coast. Why not after? I had to write a book which took me to the end of the year. The window of opportunity has passed.
It doesn't mean I couldn't revist it next year, but we have bigger things to worry about than an increasingly irrelevant DLC.
That Moulitsas would be attacking a group [the DLC] with whom he generally agrees can be explained in part by his lack of historical perspective.
Huh? I agree with the DLC on some policy items, but disagree on many. I'm not sure how anyone could write this sentence knowing the stark differences in my war position compared to the chickenhawks at the DLC. Or "bankruptcy reform". Or any number of other issues.
Markos just doesn't really get it. He hasn't been reading The New Republic and The Washington Monthly forever. He just sits there and thinks, Why the hell are these guys running things? They back losers!"
Further up in the story, the author quotes emails I sent privately to two TNR reporters. Now this quote. Seems to me that the source was one of my "friends" at TNR. But to the substance of the quote, I'm sure TNR and the Washington Monthly have explained how things are just fine even though Democrats have been losing ground at the federal level. If only I had read them...
The younger-than-35 liberal professionals who account for most of his audience seem an ideologically satisfied group, with no fundamental paradigm--changing demands to make of the Democratic Party.
I'd love to know where the author got this unsourced age statistic because it's so much bullshit that I can hardly stand it. So I decided to do a little poll to see how old people on the site really are. With 11,000 responses, it turns out that 67 percent of the site's readers are OVER the age of 35. So this sentence is not just wrong, it's REALLY wrong.
And given that the first sentence is wrong, it puts the whole rest of that paragraph, with references to this younger "generation", in really weak footing, to put it kindly.
But the gist of it -- that we focus too much on tactics and too little on policy, is a feature, not a bug. All the policy talk in the world is pretty useless when it means zero. I'm sure when Dems take back our government, policy will take a more prominant role on this and other blogs. But aside from that, there is a ton of policy talk on this site (the diaries are full of it) and the rest of the progressive blogosphere. Atrios cites just one example:
it wasn't all that long ago that Left Blogistan was dominated by boring boring repetitive wonky wonkery of the most wonkish kind - during the Social Security Bamboozlepalooza tour. The president was lying, the Trustees' various reports were based on contradictory internal assumptions, and journamalists didn't know what the hell was going. We came, we wonk'd, and we kicked some ass.
Back to the Washington Monthly piece:
What he's after isn't fame but power--and not any old power, but the kind of Silicon Valley-derived sense of power that holds that only the people who know how to program code can ever really run things.
I'm not sure what that means. But I sure as heck don't want to run things. And I even told the reporter -- it's on tape -- that the worst part about growing so big is that people might start taking my advice. And I mean it. It's easier being a critic and backseat driver when your words have no repercussions. That's becoming harder for me these days. But had he used those words, it would've shattered his efforts to paint me as power hungry.
"All he really wants is not to be president, or governor, or have statues built for him," one of his friends told me, "but maybe to help run the DCCC, to help Democrats win, and to have been right."
Any real friend of mine would know that I would rather die than "help run the DCCC". Jesus Christ, talk about a thankless job. But there are places where us netroots types can help the D-trip. Like helping them find challengers for every single race. And they are responding with sites like this one. Had that quote said, "Help the DCCC", then it would've been perfectly accurate. But at least in this case, the quote isn't the author's fault.