Saturday, April 23, 2005

Weekly Jackass Number Twenty: Markos Moulitsas Z�niga

This week's honoree is, of course, better known as the Daily Kos. I've held off on Markos for quite a while as I pondered how to handle him. With some honorees, you just quote a few things they've written, and basically just let them hang themselves with their own rope. Markos, though, deserves a more nuanced approach.

Oh, sure, it would be easy to just go after his incomprehensibly vile comment after four U.S. citizens were killed horribly in Fallujah ('I feel nothing. Screw them.'), and search out other obscene pronouncements. (Markos, when faced with a huge backlash, and a flood of advertising revenue loss, attempted to backtrack without apologizing, by essentially saying he was a liar, then bizarrely, bragging about how he took our best shot and was still standing.)

And there are other obscence pronouncements. Oh, are there ever...obscene in mindset, message, and presentation. This is the heart of my indictment against Markos. Ted Rall, a few months back, challenged the rightwing bloggers to 'prove' that liberals were as hate-filled as conservatives (a ridiculous challenge, yes, but one that was easily met). I knew I would be able to call Rall's bluff in a heartbeat, and I knew just where to go - to the good ol' Daily Kos. I wasn't disappointed.

Many would defend Markos against this charge, by saying that he isn't responsible for what kind of trash his commenters post. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. First of all, all bloggers have a responsibility for everything that appears on their blogs. That doesn't mean they own the comments, but it does mean they are responsible for monitoring them, and removing anything that crosses the line. It is up to the bloggers themselves to determine where that line is, and what constitutes crossing it...but by leaving something posted on your blog, that you yourself are responsible for publishing, you indicate at the very least a belief that the comment isn't heinous enough to warrant removal. (This isn't censorship, by the way, and if you think it is, you need to educate yourself on the term).

What goes on at the Daily Kos, though, goes beyond offensive comments. First of all, to post a comment, you must register. That's layer of tacit approval one. Then, you are allowed to post 'diaries' (tacit approval layer two), which other members of the community vote on (tacit approval layer three). The highest-rated diaries are 'recommended' (layer four), and, at Markos's discretion, sometime promoted to the entry page (layer five). If you still insist on saying Markos is not responsible, than it's hard to comprehend your definition of responsibility.

I'm not going to waste time hunting down examples of the foul level of discourse that is often found in these diaries and comments...if you doubt that it exists, just pay the site a visit...if you don't find something offensive in three minutes, you aren't looking hard enough. Instead, I'd like to close by paying tribute to some of the things our honoree does right.

Markos served his nation in the military. He has two bachelor degrees, a J.D., and a very successful website. In fact, The Daily Kos is consistently the highest trafficked political blog, right or left. He has a genuinely innovative site setup, and fosters a real sense of community among his 'followers'. He has quite a bit of fundraising prowess, and his own consulting business (that's a subject for another time). All the more's the pity, then, that he allows all of this influence to be subsumed by a reputation for hate. And that, Markos, is why you are this week's honoree.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m. central: It's always a treat to get a link from the great Tim Blair...look around and enjoy yourself, folks...I'm off to a wedding...

No comments: