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Name Names

Hey, Billmon, stop pulling your punches -- no "charmed circle" or "A-list" name some names, call some people out. Isn't that the whole idea of spirited subversive amateurism?

September 26, 2004 | Permalink


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» Steal This Blog from Sick Transit
Ex-commie Billmon (currently earning his bread working for some some unidentified faction of the Global Capitalist Conspiracy) rants in the LAT that blogging is being co-opted by big media, just like rock-and-roll, the 60's, and everything else good... [Read More]

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The primary problem with the blogosphere is that no one links to me just because I call them names.

The whiny little bastards.

Posted by: Zizka | Sep 26, 2004 3:45:17 PM

Indeed...Billmon's thesis is interesting, but he gives not a single example, so I have no way of deciding whether I agree or not. I read a number of lefty blogs and I haven't noticed any of them selling out to the man recently. Sure, they run ads, but those are usually for progressive candidates or politics-junkie websites...not exactly the stuff of a big-media takeover.

I think the article should be taken more as a warning of what might happpen than a diagnosis of what is. I just haven't noticed the kind of thing he's talking about. has anyone else?

Posted by: El Gringo Loco | Sep 26, 2004 3:54:56 PM

This latimes diatribe is just Billmon's latest excuse for not gracing blogland with his incisive political commentary.

come back, billmon. We miss you.

Posted by: camille roy | Sep 26, 2004 4:01:07 PM

I think what Billmon might be saying is that blogging as a discete movement will eventually come to an end, gobbled up by the system, as in a giant game of pac-man. Blogs will still exist, but they will be more controlled by the corporate overlords. Do you really need examples? When has this not happened in America? If it can be monetized, there is a corporate pimp somewhere waiting to buy, and a blog-propietor waiting to sell out. On the other hand, this time might be different because the cost of entry is so low, so replacements will probably pop up if the ones who sold out fail to deliver as expected.

Posted by: poputonian | Sep 26, 2004 4:38:32 PM

What I need examples of are the things he's talking about in the present tense. but yes, I do think something like what he describes may well occur at some point...But since cost of entry is, as you say, very low, and since blog readers have bullshit meters that function pretty well, I don't think we'll ever lack of subversive or edgy content. As long as people want to read that kind of thing, it will emerge. Market rules don't just apply to the market, after all.

Posted by: El Gringo Loco | Sep 26, 2004 4:47:00 PM

I think Billmon should reread his Futurist manifestos. People who buy into this "blogs are the wave of the future" nonsense badly embarrass themselves.

Posted by: David Watts | Sep 26, 2004 4:58:08 PM

Election '04

Course, could be that Billmon has a slightly different estimate of the seriousness of our present situation, and therefore has a different standard for what constitutes capitulation or what degree of comity and moderation is actually rational.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 26, 2004 7:45:31 PM

One of the things I've been realizing for a little while now (not as long as I should have been) is that sometimes corporate America bids high for some things because they're worth bidding high for. I'm most familiar with the music industry, so let's look at an example there. Britney Spears is clearly not quality music. They took a young, good-looking teenager who could dance, and turned her into a star (making lots of money off her while she gave her audience product that was more image than music), much the way MSNBC pretended its commentators were good bloggers during the conventions. Meanwhile, big record companies have also picked up songwriters like John Hiatt, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, who are quite good (and still provide their record companies with plenty of profit while providing their audiences with quality music in the process). I would buy a Tom Waits album, even if it was put out by Asylum, or Elektra, or wherever he is these days, because he still gives me quality music. By the same token, if someone in big media offered Matt here (say), or Josh Marshall, or Atrios big bucks to blog for them and they maintained there quality of blogging, I'd still read them. Did I ramble enough?

Posted by: Josh | Sep 26, 2004 9:05:30 PM

Reading past Billmon's anti-corporate biases and extrapolating a bit, it would appear that his positive solution would be for rational inquirers to stop talking about the silly garbage that makes up the daily "news" diet, and instead dive headlong into the netherworlds of "conspiracy theory" about the Bush administration, in order to rescue a few grains of truth from the "snowdrifts of paranoia" (to borrow Kevin Philip's phrase) which seem to conceal some potentially significant and disturbing actualities. Even discounting all the nazism, satanism, and "hollow moon" stuff you run into, the truth about what goes on under the guise of "national security," though only dimly discernable, may actually prove utterly damning, and make a mockery of the commonly accepted ideas of "national security" and "realpolitik". That's extremely serious stuff.

Unlike Billmon, I don't personally believe that the mechanisms of self-circumscription and self-censorship which afflict "responsible" discourse are entirely economic or corporate, but also conceptual. A lot of people just don't know who or what to believe any more, and for the sake of their own sanity they will avoid making independent rational judgments, and instead trust only familar brand names, sources who may be quite probative and insightful, but who also, consciously or not, ideologically self-limit the scope of their inquiries. Put another way, maybe we're just asking the wrong questions. I would be hard pressed to come up with particular examples, since what I'm talking about may frankly require a near-total conceptual re-orientation that a lot of people would find all to easy to just laugh off as "out there".

The promise of the blogosphere is that this need not be so, and the idea of unfulfilled (as yet) promise is what Billmon seems to be mourning in his way.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 26, 2004 10:16:17 PM

"We must be cautious here not to transmute commercial relationships into a latter-day conspiracy theory, a transformation that epitomizes what historian Richard Hofstadter years ago called the 'paranoid streak' in American politics... On the other hand, worries about conspiracy thinking should not inhibit inquiries in a way that blocks sober examination, which often more properly identifies some kind of elite behavior familiar to sociologists and political scientists alike."

-Kevin Philips, American Dynasty

I would say that current political discourse continues to err too much on the side of caution in this regard. This is less forgivable in the blogosphere, where, despite Billmon's protestations, the influence of corporate money continues to be less determinative of content than any other forum or medium.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 26, 2004 10:45:30 PM

""snowdrifts of paranoia" (to borrow Kevin Philip's phrase) which seem to conceal some potentially significant and disturbing actualities."

This ain't at all difficult. Stop talking about Bushco incompetence and start presuming they know what they doing and trying to figure why they are doing it.

Krugman said several years ago that the deficits are a plan, not a mistake. Very few people in the blogosphere have run far with that.

What happens if the dollar undergoes a 50% devaluation? What are the social consequences?

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 26, 2004 11:09:36 PM

Billmon seems a profoundly depairing individual.

Posted by: Kiril | Sep 27, 2004 1:27:17 AM

It doesn't matter if the corporate weinies take over the blogs.

Blogs have already surpassed cable TV in that they seemingly skipped an evolutionary step as the population of this "new media" species literally exploded in a couple of years. There are already so many choices and voices now that blogs have become like every human on the planet--they have an a-hole AND an opinion.

The problem with blogs is that they sorting through them is like separating the kernels of wheat from the enourmous piles of digital chaff.

Soono many choices and voices out there that everything will become fragemented

Posted by: WyldPirate | Sep 27, 2004 1:52:18 AM

The recent CBS-memo flap is a good indicator of how tightly coupled the entire political blogosphere has become. Over a relatively trivial point (eclipsed, as Josh frequently points out, by the Italian Iraq-Niger forgeries), the entire sphere rotated for several weeks. Right-wing blogs were devoted to 1)proving the forgeries 2)using the forgeries as jumping-off points for their favorite retread stories about liberal bias 3)insinuating contacts between the forgeries and the Kerry campaign. Liberal blogs were reinforcing the opposite of those points.

It was like watching two armies of foot soldiers joining battle in one of those mass-army scenes from Braveheart. It was *not* like watching a bunch of idiosyncratic individuals reacting to a piece of information.


Posted by: Carleton Wu | Sep 27, 2004 2:02:49 AM

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