Bloggers on the Bus—Get in the Back
Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press
Free Press, Simon & Schuster
Time was when an American Presidential election had its media agenda and tone set by a cadre of journalists on a campaign bus, as so vividly portrayed by Timothy Crouse’s classic The Boys on the Bus. Eric Boehlert adapts this theme to our 21st century political “bus” of television, radio, print and the burgeoning, roiling raw force of the internet on American 21st century politics, how bloggers and attendant internet players slammed and smashed their way onto the 2008 election media campaign bus to become major media players themselves.
The internet newcomers don’t remotely have the ability to drive a political/media agenda, no, and like most obstreperous newcomers elbowing their way into legitimacy have received a very, very cold shoulder from their stodgy, established journalism cousins, but there is no doubt they’re on were on the political media bus of Election 2008, if relegated stiffly and huffily to the back seats.
Boehlert’s title is a tad disingenuous, the internet media actors that made such vivid contributions to Election 2008 chronicled in the book are clearly not all bloggers, not hardly. Likely they never would have been there without the initial efforts of bloggers and the blogosphere, all right, but some are pure reporters and others unique mixes of writer/publishers (Arianna Huffington).
A clarification of my role in the blogosphere is likely in order here. Am I a blogger? No. I use the medium—and enjoy it very much—in direct support of The Left Coaster and Daily Kos, with other support to about 50 other bloggers, but I have never devoted a full day to political blogging and probably never will. I have duty and destiny that forever keeps me from full-time blogging, I must be elsewhere and usually only serve very early in the day.
I’ve done it for six years now, and the modest amounts I’ve donated to candidates since then are easily at a 5 to 1 ratio to what I’ve given to bloggers. Why? Because I am eternally livid as to what our absolutely terrible journalism corps did to Al Gore and the country after Election 2000, what offensive, lying, arrogant, destructive assholes, we’ll be paying for that election for 50 years.
Anything, anything at all that I can to change that sickening juvenile media environment I will do. I blog and donate and write and call and donate more and canvass all because of you, American Journalist. Fuck you. There are millions more precisely like me, this relentless force to alter the god-awful idiot behavior of American media is how the blogosphere was born and is sustained.
Amazingly sneered at by the “professionals,” of course--it’s vividly remarkable how huffily proud and defensive these whorish, manipulative cretins are of their disgraced profession—but now that Boehlert so aptly demonstrates how bloggers and internet got shoved to the back of the bus, will there ever be a day when they’re respectfully given a seat or—gasp!—even allowed to drive it for a while?
An interesting question, to be sure, but academic in light of the blogosphere’s urgent mission to keep surviving, which is not at all a given fact. I was amused two weeks ago to receive thank-you notes in that same week from bloggers for donations of long ago, for obviously a class or seminar or whatever had told them never to ignore a donor, hello? The story got very little play on the blogs, obviously, but there was a serious blogger backlash earlier in the year to the Party establishment for not supporting the blogs more with various media buys that still go to old-time lousy players. I don’t think the bloggers got any movement on that, not yet.
The semi-desperate, doggedly amateur broke blogger actually carries a charm and very legitimate media appeal, I’m not really worried about the blogosphere’s ability to survive via resource constraints, but I am greatly concerned for the blogosphere aligned with the most disturbing part of the book, the hoary ungodly mother of all primary battles ruthlessly and endlessly duked out in the liberal blogosphere.
Without hardly a thought major bloggers shed their media robes and became partisan backers. Not only did this cause a disastrous, ferocious blogger war of awful language and ludicrous behavior, it baked in often completely stifling and rigid adherence to the eventual winner—Obama—to the point where previously daring and obstreperous blogs and sites morphed in idolatrous zones of Obama ass-kissing, to varying degrees. Will some bloggers nix neutrality make the same choice for 2016? We shall see.
Readers could get a much firmer personal answer to that question by reading the book, Bloggers on the Bus is an extremely well-written, funny and insightful look at some of the most vivid internet players and bloggers to grace our last election, and I cannot recommend it more highly.