…you may have missed the brouhaha that erupted between Kos and Jason Zengerle, which ballooned somehow into a discussion of whether The New Republic is simply a hotbed of neo-cons or has devolved into actual fascism. Something like that.
At any rate, while it was hard to sift the evidence from the ad hominem from the evidence, there was just such an effort in some quarters. If you're looking to catch up, the work of Ron Chusid
over at the Democratic Daily demonstrates enough skepticism about both sides of the debate to provide an even keel.
In fact, as disappointing as TNR can be on many issues, attacking the magazine doesn't address real questions that were posed by, but hardly originated, by Zengerle's original post.
One of them, whether there's some kind of political payola arrangement between Kos and Jerome, was answered in definite terms last night by Jerome himself at MyDD
Update [2006-6-25 8:44:56 by Jerome Armstrong]: Let me just state for the record that any payola allegations, of some quid pro quo scam involving Markos and I, are complete fabrications...
I accept that at face value. I never believed it in the first place. Neil the Ethical Werewolf
, though, warns that Kos may just be getting played rather than paid...
I'm not saying that Kos is getting paid off by the Warner campaign. (Though since Jerome has been on the getting end of these payments in the past, I wouldn't be surprised if he's interested in being on the giving side.) There's a simpler explanation. Maybe Kos is just another gullible Bluepoint investor who trusts and admires Jerome, and is buying an internet stock for a lot more than it's worth, on Jerome's recommendation. We ought to be suspicious of pro-Warner comments Kos makes in the future. You don't just have to beware the guy who's willing to mislead you for financial gain -- you have to beware the guy who listens to him.
Of course, we all should be suspicious, or skeptical, at least, of most anything we read on the internets. In fact, one of the things that surprised a lot of folks, but shouldn't have, is that there's some measure of back channel communication and cooperation between major bloggers and other politicos, and that that communication is intended to, and does, to various degrees, affect the agenda of the lefty blogosphere.
It's hardly surprising that in any human endeavor involving large numbers, there will be cliques and factions. Some will be more influential than others. In truth, any back channel effort to suppress anything these days is a fool's errand. One thing the development on the current on-line environment has produced is a relative certainty that the story, without particular regard to it's merit, will get out.
Of course, the whole notion of a blogger cabal directing everything from on high, the electronic Illuminati, if you will, is deserving of mockery
. Whatever powers may be can plot and scheme and strategize to their heart's delight. I can still wake up and write about anything I damn well please, and so can you. That's the beauty of what we do, and what folks who don't get what we do don't get.
So another question, whether Kos was trying to kill a story to help a friend, becomes irrelevant in the face of the cold fact that Kos can't
kill a story.
Of course, speculation about Jerome's influence on Kos will continue until Kos comes up with a better answer to "Why Warner?" that "He's terrific, you'll see." The reporting of Jerome's troubles with the SEC raises questions mostly relevant only to those who pay for his advice. Bloggers will continue to gather both offline and on and talk about what we should be talking about, and it will continue to matter very little to most of us.
There were fair questions raised by Zengerle. There seem to be reasonable answers to most of them, too. Maybe in the future we can skip the whole Rovian sideshow of attack, obfuscation and redirecting the question (thankfully, it seems to have stopped just shy of violating Godwin's Law this time around) and go straight to the answers.