I hadn't heard this term before...Did Sullivan call writers who work for politicians whores? No. He said "whored." It's a verb, not a noun. (Remember that time on "Survivor" when Candice told Jonathan he was "trying to...weasel your way in...somehow," and Jonathan accused her of calling him a weasel, and she was all it's a verb, not a noun. She got voted off right after that, but still.) It is whoring, and it is propaganda. Let's call things what they are. Sullivan isn't saying it's morally wrong to sell your writing skills for the purpose of promoting a political agenda, just that it's a good idea to make life difficult for bloggers who move into that line of work.
Marcotte is the alleged victim in [the case Beyerstein writes about]. But isn't the left just as guilty in hounding campaigns? Or are they too disorganized? Personally, I'm all for making life difficult for bloggers who have whored themselves out as paid propagandists for campaigns. But it's always best just to expose ugliness and dishonesty, not punish it.
And here's Ross Douthat:
Like Ann Althouse and Andrew, I must have missed the memo on this term - though it's certainly a real enough phenomenon, and "scalping" is a good a word as any. But Beyerstein's suggestion that it's the exclusive preserve of right-wingers - like most suggestions that some dirty trick is the exclusive preserve of right-wingers - is just silly.He cites the case of Ben Domenech.
But re-reading Beyerstein, it's possible that her "unlike the liberal netroots, the right-wing blogosphere is capable of exactly one kind of collective political action" line wasn't meant to suggest that left-wingers don't scalp, but that they do other things as well, whereas right-wingers don't.That is the better reading of what Beyerstein wrote. (Which was: "Unlike the liberal netroots, the right-wing blogosphere is capable of exactly one kind of collective political action. They call it 'scalping'...")
This is an overgeneralization, obviously, but it gets a lot closer to an interesting truth about the blogosphere, which is that the lefty blogs have become way better at doing political things - raising money, raising issues, and influencing elections at the grass/netroots level - than most of the right-wing blogs. The conservative 'sphere became adept at picking apart the MSM in the first couple years of the blogosphere, but it hasn't really adapted to the Kos/MyDD era - and its anti-MSM shtick has grown pretty stale since events in Iraq started proving Big Media right, and the warbloggers wrong.I don't like the implication that there is a flow of things and that it goes in the direction of increasing agglomeration. Why isn't greater independence and individualism among bloggers a good thing?
Douthat points to this post by Daniel Larison:
Why have the big lefty blogs evolved into online “communities” that sponsor political activism that actually has a remote chance of influencing elections? Because the people on the left are very big into a) political activism and b) collective expressions of that political activism. They also tend to be generally outraged about the state of the world, which lends itself to blogging, while there is nothing more uninteresting than Hewittian, “Gee, I sure do support the President a lot” posts and the old chestnuts of “why aren’t they reporting the good news from Iraq?”Well, general outrage about the state of the world is pretty uninteresting too. But what question are we asking here, how to write and interesting blog or how to be an effective political activist? Larison is really talking about the latter:
Consider that the big example of Hewittian activism today is an attempt to enforce party discipline against wayward backbenchers over a…non-binding resolution. This is not really grassroots activism, but the use of a megaphone to try to whip the Republican caucus in the media. It is furthermore the ego trip of some big name bloggers and pundits who want to display their servile attachment to the President. What is different between Kos and Hewitt? Kos actually wants to win elections and the Kossacks spend a fair amount of time thinking, however poorly, about how to do that. They haven’t had that many successes, obviously, but they actually want to expand the reach of the Democratic Party rather than retreat into the bunker with the last five true believers. Will the Kossacks become a pathetic White House-defending gang should the Dems win in ‘08? You better believe it. Nonetheless, the model of their blogs will continue to make them politically relevant in a way that the celebrity-blogging on the right never can be.Well, I prefer what Larison seems to mean by "celebrity-blogging." And I'm quite happy to see that bloggers have trouble succeeding in their collective activities.
AND: Let me speculate that this old post by Kevin Drum is the source of the "scalping" terminology.