"Democracy's Valiant Vulgarians" meet the great unwashed
January 26, 2007 11:35 PM   Subscribe

Time magazine recently launched a new politics blog, Swampland. The blog is, to this point, most interesting for its confrontations between the commenters and the bloggers. [m.i.]
posted by ibmcginty (25 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The blog's cast of characters includes the blogger formerly known as Wonkette (Ana Marie Cox), pundit and Primary Colors author Joe Klein, and Time reporters Karen Tumulty and Jay Carney.

Most commentors on Swampland are left-leaning. So when Time's Washington bureau chief Jay Carney wrote, incorrectly, that in "late 1994 and early 1995, President Clinton was in free fall," with an approval rating "mired in the 30's," he was rewarded with hundreds of comments correcting and criticizing him. Carney reacted petulantly, asserting that "the left is as full of unthinking Ditto-heads as Limbaugh-land." A few hundred more negative comments ensued (ie, "I see you still haven't gotten the hang of this "blogging" thing.").

Swampland contributor Joe Klein has long been reviled as a hack and a wanker in liberal blogging circles. He garnered some attention for his stylistic complaints about Democratic objections to the war in an early Swampland post. More recently, when he praised Sen. Webb for being unable to "pass for effete" and as "a Democrat who palpably didn't drink chablis," Klein was treated to over a hundred comments, almost universally decrying his post as "vacuous," "insipid, facile blather," "shallow," and appalling ("You can imagine having a beer with him? What are you, kidding me? Is this some kind of performance art?"). Today, though, he posted about the Scooter Libby trial, then responded directly to concerns raised in comments, thanking his readers for their "generally unsnarky response." (The first comment in that thread reads: "Unsnarky? You write like shit.")

This kind of instant feedback may make it harder for dangerous DC pundit actions and mythologies-- such as that "every serious Democrat" voted for the Iraq war-- to take root.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:35 PM on January 26, 2007

My prediction: they start moderating the comments.
posted by russilwvong at 11:48 PM on January 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

They kinda stole their name from the Chicago Trib's The Swamp, I reckon.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:51 PM on January 26, 2007

The name swampland is based on a myth about D.C..
posted by 2sheets at 12:03 AM on January 27, 2007

I read that as "Democracy's Valiant Vulvarians" and was excited at the prospect of finally finding a political platform I could really dive into and get behind.
posted by loquacious at 12:05 AM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

The same thing happened when Tom Delay started a blog.
posted by Brittanie at 1:20 AM on January 27, 2007

If ya'll will forgive a slight derail:

While Googling to learn more about Ana Marie Cox, I found P.J. O'Rourke's review of her novel Dog Days from last year. I'm bookmarking that one to reread any time I'm tempted to write fiction -- some people can cross genres, evidently, and some can't.
posted by pax digita at 3:13 AM on January 27, 2007

Meh. I launch a new blog once or twice a day. It gets interesting only when I have to use the plunger.
posted by localhuman at 6:17 AM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

And those who, heroically, manage to be wrong about everything while not knowing anything.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:25 AM on January 27, 2007

XQUZYPHYR: It's all about eyeballs. They go for big names who people find interesting, and it's hard to compete in the interesting game against people who just make shit up
posted by delmoi at 9:26 AM on January 27, 2007

It's quite interesting that I attempted to post on TomDelay.com but was edited out, when they kept far more abusive posts from the Left (I'm always extremely polite and careful not to use loaded words when posting on a right-wing blog, and I get polite responses back about 50% of the time even).

I was initially ticked but then I concluded that they removed exactly those posts that would make them look bad and I was flattered...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:52 AM on January 27, 2007

Following links I found this excellent article:

Here's the first multiple-choice question:
The Iraq War is Bad Because:

a) It is illegal, immoral, and criminal

b) It has ended up killing and maiming millions of Iraqis we promised to free

c) It has devastated a country and ignited world opinion against the United States and caused thousands of US casualties

d) It has debased our media and turned much of it into a propaganda organ

e) It was badly managed and poorly executed

If you survey world opinion, there would be a consensus on selecting A-D as a response. If you polled most Democratic politicians and mainstream journalists, you would find overwhelming support ONLY for E-"the we screwed it up" thesis as the correct answer.

posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:03 PM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

The name swampland is based on a myth about D.C..

It may. Then again, Pelosi Says She Would Drain GOP 'Swamp' ... but then, WaPo would never be so partisan ....
posted by dhartung at 2:21 PM on January 27, 2007

It's all about eyeballs.

Yup--i've commented there. At first i thought they would just pull commenting altogether, but it's part of their new web strategy, and they don't care what commenters say at all--only that there is buzz (and there is but it's gonna stop quick) and visit daily. Joke Line and the others will never be fired nor reprimanded nor face any accountability at all for anything they say there, unlike regular bloggers (who usually want to be read and fully engaged), so commenting is actually meaningless there.
posted by amberglow at 2:27 PM on January 27, 2007

Score, I just happened to be looking for a blog-like website featuring cynical liberal commenters so that I could learn more about the Iraq war.
posted by Slap Factory at 3:29 PM on January 27, 2007

What's most sad about it is that Wonkette is so thoroughly muzzled there--no fun, no snark, no wit, no anal sex--nothing that made her name.
posted by amberglow at 3:44 PM on January 27, 2007

no fun, no snark, no wit, no anal sex

posted by homunculus at 6:46 PM on January 27, 2007

I agree with Amberglow - Wonkette used to make my day. This gig probably pays better but for her old fans it's like seeing the Clash reuniting to play 4 nights a week in Vegas.
posted by Ber at 9:30 PM on January 27, 2007

so commenting is actually meaningless there.

Hey, now - you just watch out what you call meanigless, buddy.
posted by soyjoy at 10:11 PM on January 27, 2007

Oh, and right on about Wonkette, both of youse. (I can just see the Clash in Vegas - "he who fucks nuns has fun will later join the church")
posted by soyjoy at 10:14 PM on January 27, 2007

lupus_yonderboy quotes Danny Schechter: If you survey world opinion, there would be a consensus on selecting A-D as a response. If you polled most Democratic politicians and mainstream journalists, you would find overwhelming support ONLY for E-"the we screwed it up" thesis as the correct answer.

Not true. See Al Gore's September 2002 speech opposing war with Iraq, for example. (Parenthetically: reading Gore's speech, I can't help but think once again that the United States would have been far, far better served if Gore had taken office after the 2000 election.)

Schechter's list doesn't include one reason for opposing the war: that it was imprudent. Hans Morgenthau: There can be no political morality without prudence; that is, without consideration of the political consequences of seemingly moral action. Realism, then, considers prudence--the weighing of the consequences of alternative political actions--to be the supreme virtue in politics.
posted by russilwvong at 10:53 PM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Pretty far off topic, but here's a discussion on that spectacular dallasfood.org site whose Noka chocolate series was linked around here last month.

The Dallas Morning News ran a couple stories about the DallasFood dustup (links are at the first link in this post), and the DallasFood people are divided in their reactions, with very different views of what a journalist's responsibility should be.

Is it OK to cite anonymous bloggers, or to write anonymously? Should a business journalist evaluate the merits of the criticisms raised by the blogger, or merely report on the business impact of the story?
posted by ibmcginty at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2007

Knee Jerks (on Klein and his cohort)
posted by amberglow at 3:36 PM on January 28, 2007


Oh, Wonkette was the sellout. This is the flip. Swampland is the kind of venture that Ana would have rolled her eyes at in her first online job.

The problem with Swampland is that the non-Wonkette-emeriti think that Cox's veneer of snark is enough to transform their copy into something bloggable. It's not like they're stepping into virgin territory here: even on an institutional level, Dan Froomkin's daily wrap at the WaPo site is a model of how to do it well.
posted by holgate at 10:20 PM on January 29, 2007

But that veneer is invisible at Time. I don't see it at all. (i still miss Suck--what a fabulous place that was--still head and shoulders above so many today)
posted by amberglow at 4:12 PM on January 31, 2007

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