June 25, 2006

Newsweek goes after Kos but if he says they do, he's paranoid.

Newsweek has a big article on Kos that starts off looking like a puff piece. He's listening to hummingbirds and finally getting that flat-screen TV. But, make no mistake, it's quite hard on him. He "picked a rough time" to crash the gates of the Democratic Party:
[T]he Democrats lost the week in the war over the war, and Moulitsas — who chats with Senate leadership aides several times a week and has brainstormed with Democratic operatives about the fall campaign —could no longer just criticize from the outside. Indeed, the Democrats' failed Iraq strategy — stand together, talk tough and make plans to leave —lined up exactly with the prescriptions found on Daily Kos.

Moulitsas is also learning another downside of membership in the elite: the bigger the liberal sniper gets, the more incoming fire he faces. The talk of the blogosphere last week was "Kosola"— allegations that Moulitsas wrote favorably about candidates with whom he or his close friend and coauthor Jerome Armstrong had financial relationships. Moulitsas swore the charges were baseless (Armstrong, too, has denied impropriety), but they clearly got under his skin. When The New Republic's Web site published an e-mail from Moulitsas to a group of friendly activists urging them not to talk about Kosola and thus "starve it of oxygen," Moulitsas went berserk in a blog posting, accusing the venerable liberal journal of treason. By the weekend, Moulitsas's allies were sending each other e-mails infected with the paranoia of revolutionaries who've gained power too fast: How should they deal with traitors? How much openness could they handle? Which fellow travelers could they really trust?...

[S]ome Dems fear that Moulitsas's popularity will pull the party so far to the left that it won't be able to win the general election in 2008. "It's a little bit like 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' with these guys," said an aide to a Democratic presidential candidate who asked not to be identified while the boss was angling for Moulitsas's support. "You like what they're saying when they're coming in, but you don't know what they're going to do once you let them into your house." Newt Gingrich, who wins points even from liberal bloggers for his political acumen, marvels at the Democrats' embrace of the blogosphere: "Candidates out there run a risk of resembling the people they're trying to appeal to," he tells NEWSWEEK. "I think the Republican Party has few allies more effective than the Daily Kos."...

The pressure on Moulitsas — to be consistent, to be pragmatic, to win — will only grow as the fall elections approach. Already, the strain of the spotlight is beginning to show in his growing belligerence and paranoia. When Kosola broke, Moulitsas e-mailed fellow progressive activists, wondering who might be shopping the story. "I've gotten reliable tips that Hillary's operation has been digging around my past (something I confronted them about, btw, and never got a denial), and you know the Lieberman/DLC/TNR camp is digging as well," he wrote, referring to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council and The New Republic.
Kos's writing style -- which has obviously served him well as a blogger up to this point -- sounds angry and crazed to the outsider. It's easy to get him to react with "belligerence and paranoia," and the more successful he is, the more Democrats are motivated to marginalize and disqualify him. Those he's accused of "digging around in my past" have denied that they're doing it, but, really, why wouldn't they be doing it? And why wouldn't part of their strategy be to make him think that they are so they can lure him into displaying more of that "belligerence and paranoia"?

So I assume there is a conspiracy and a strategy to investigate Kos. And it's so easy to do because it can succeed even if it fails to turn anything up, because it will provoke him, and when he reacts, they'll all say he's paranoid, belligerent. Escort that man back outside the gate.

But why is Althouse saying all this? Is she trying to stoke his paranoia and lead him into the very pitfall she's identified? Is she nonpartisan and just calling them as she sees them? Or is she just saying that because she knows that's the kind of assertion that Kos folk are least likely to believe? And is that one more reason to suspect there's a big plot? Look at that line she boldfaced up there. There's a Republican plot and a Democratic plot all converging on poor Mr. Moulitsas.

And if he exhibits these suspicions, he's going to look crazy. And you know what they do to you once they have the material to make you look ca-ray-zee.


Lou Minatti said...

Of course Hillary's ops have people digging deep into the Kos files. Don't people remember all the "gates" from 10 years ago? Kosoids have seized control of the Democrat Party message. Democrats will lose with this message. Dean doesn't know this. He is still enthralled with the Kosoids.

Hillary knows the Democrats are doomed as long as Kos controls the message. She has the machinery in place to "get the goods". Kos should be paranoid, and it will be fun to watch!

Randy said...

Newsweek characterizes him as having gone "beserk" and exhibiting "growing belligerence and paranoia." That was a very tough piece.

(And he thought he had problems with The New Republic!)

Anonymous said...

"They're coming to take me away..."

The fact of Kos's influence is incredibly depressing. The Left, especially Marxists, once could be accused of dangerous abstraction and over-intellectualization.

Socialism and liberalism have offered, in varying degrees, humane alternatives. The elevation of working people and the creation of an ethical society which did not grind the weak and oppressed into an abyss have been the noble project of a century and a half.

But where in Kos is the intellectual content formerly associated with the Left? Where do we find anything like thoughtful analysis and debate? Where are the humane and ethical traditions of the Left on display? Where is a basic understanding of economics, even of the Marxist variety? I'd settle for old-fashioned Marxism. At least there would be some thought, however misguided, behind it.

What we get instead is obscenity-filled invective and vapid partisan rants, all presented in an atmosphere of stultifying group-think. And now we have astrology lurking around the edges.

I can't stand to read this stuff. It should be incredibly depressing for liberals that such a person and his followers have the influence they seem to on the Democratic Party.

I know I'm depressed. Does anyone know anything that would cheer me up? Maybe Hillary will save us. But a Democratic Party that could ignore such nut cases in the first place would have been better.

KCFleming said...

The jostling and name-calling are indeed evidence that part of the left wants Kos out of the group. What I really don't understand is that their messages are exactly the same, they're merely arguing about the best format for delivery .

Hillary wants to do the old "talk centrist, then go left" move. Kos is all 60s radical, "Screw that. What do want we want? No GWOT, national health care, and Bush is jail! When do we want it? Now!

It's not the message they're debating, but the delivery. And if claiming Kos is a loon works, it's fine to them. Ed Muskie and Thomas Eagleton suffered from earlier versions of this attack. Perot battled the same charge, though he fought hard against it. Not surprisingly, the tactic was a favorite of the Soviets, as well.

It's amazing how effective the crazy meme works to disparage and isolate one's opponents. The left should be very careful where they point that thing, however, as voters might be tempted to think that the entire left has gone to crazy town, and they're not interested in promoting its mayor to higher office.

Googootz said...

Hugh Hewitt has dubbed him "Kosputin".

How appropriate.

Bruce Hayden said...

I buy on to the idea that this just happened. Yes, I think that both Hillary Clinton and Karl Rove are capable of this, but I will also submit that the timing is wrong for both of them. Rove knows that whatever happens in late June is irrelevant to elections - which is why we get Labor Day Surprises (like RatherGate). Hillary would probably do best if this happened in about a year and a half, leaving the lunatic fringe of her party in disarray as she coasts into the nomination.

K T Cat said...

Kos is a threat to a large number of powerful entities. So is Glenn Reynolds, so is Ann Althouse, so is Laurence Simon.

If the blogosphere succeeds is becoming a player in the information wars, it will hurt big media financially and politicians in terms of power. Just look at when Glenn is doing with PorkBusters.

They're not going after Kos, they're going after all of us. Didn't Tofler write about this kind of thing? The battle between the fading societal model and the one replacing it?

richard mcenroe said...

On the other hand, maybe it's easy to make Kos look belligerent and paranoid because he's belligerent and paranoid. This is the man who had a "plan to destroy the DLC", remember? And of course he accuses The new Republic of being in on it with Lieberman, because he's currently running a campaign against Lieberman. All his enemies are of course in on anything bad that happens to him.

But this is what happens whenever the left gets a tiny sniff of power. They're alright as long as they're wielding their influence in their tiny little ponds, a bitter, draft-dodging high school prinicpal here, a tenured professor there, a city councilperson somewhere else. But put them in a position of broad public visibility, a Dean, a Kerry, a Kos, and the wheels come off, every time, when the general public has to reconcile what they've been told/sold about these hollow men and hustlers with what they're actually seeing.

Clioman said...

TWM said, "Their disdain of bloggers is evidently stronger than their hatred of the President."

The difference is that Bush only affects their sense of liberal aesthetics. Bloggers could actually threaten their livelihoods.

Anonymous said...

One way to see this is as the Traditional Media (TNR, Newsweek, and The NYTimes) vs. the bloggers that strike the most fear into their writers and their CFOs.

Parallel to that is the "coincidence" that TNR is rabidly pro-Lieberman, Newsweek's most liberal writer is self-described liberal Joe Klein who makes his nut bashing Democrats.

And of course, let's not forget that TNR and Newsweek's columnists led us face first into the Iraq War and have pretty much been proven wrong (along with you) at every turn. And who was right this entire time? Kos and Atrios and Josh Marshall and all of those horrid left wing bloggers.

In the meantime, never able to place common sense and logic over a good kicking of the left, tighty righties such as Ann Althouse, Glenn Reynolds, Jeff Goldstein, and David Brooks pile on.

And yet, the central charge, that Kos has some sort of pay to play Kosola for endorsements on Kos has never been met with a single shred of evidence.

For more, see:

TBogg, James Wolcott, Sadly No and Lindsay weigh in.

(In the meantime, you do know there have been charges that Jason Zengerle at TNR (Stephen Glass' old editor) has made inaccurate and fraudulent claims about the veracity of the emails he published?)

KCFleming said...

Ah, JacQxxx again, back not to engage the topic at hand, but to complete his daily task of spraying candyland insecticide.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Townhouse list, so you know bloggers on the left and right will also coordinate with each other via secret IMs, secret phone calls, and secret face to face meetings!

It's true!

Though I do find it a bit sad that no one has invited you.

DaveG said...

They come up from obscurity, and get a little media exposure and influence. It goes to their head, and they start acting like, well, kos. Then the second wave of mass market media, which points out, truthfully, that they're insane.

See also: Sheehan, Cindy.

DaveG said...

voters might be tempted to think that the entire left has gone to crazy town, and they're not interested in promoting its mayor to higher office.

I continue to look for evidence to the contrary with little to no success. When one does crop up, he/she gets "Liebermanned" PDQ.

American Daughter said...

You are on to something here, Ann. Our writers are largely conservative, but we think it is coming from the Hillary Clinton vs. Mark Warner gap. We outline our reasoning in this essay.

reader_iam said...

But where in Kos is the intellectual content formerly associated with the Left? Where do we find anything like thoughtful analysis and debate?

From the preface to "Crashing The Gate":

"In May 2005 we began traveling all over the country to interview politifcal insiders and outsiders--journalists, politicians, consultants, historians, authors, and activists. We traveled to over twenty states and interviewed over 150 people. We had an early thesis--that the Democratic Party's biggest problem was "branding," or rather the lack of it. However, that thesis was decimated by the research and interviews during our travels. (Suffice it to say,the party has bigger problems than branding or marketing.) We wanted to write a book with intellectual heft, but we are neither historians nor political scientists. Our underqualified efforts to write heavy political and historical material failed miserably. [Emphasis added.]

(They then go on to write about starting over from scratch, based on an inspiration about the identity of their new movement.)

Theo: Now, regarding the part of your comment that I excerpted, I don't think intellectual content is the goal.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Beth said...

It does seem that the story is how to goad Kos into showing his drawers in public. TNR's original story lacks much real heft, and it seeks to conflate the Kos email with the SEC issues for Armstrong, in a weak, general stab at some imagined seaminess. And if the accusation that Zengerle published a fraudulent email as part of the story, then he has some questions to answer about his reliance on unnamed "sources." Either he was used, or he didn't care to verify the email's veracity by speaking with its purported sender before publishing. Sloppy at best, but representative of his reporting on this so far. There hasn't been any evidence so far of payola, and I continue to be disappointed at how mainstream journalism deals with bloggers.

Ann, add to your excellent list of mysteries, "why does Althouse suddenly write of Althouse in the third person"? Is she echoing the Kos tone of madness? Is she just having a bit of fun early in the a.m.?

McKreck said...

Personally, being on the right, I plan to enjoy this little meltdown, even though I think it will pass soon enough. It may be cruel, but right now I don't care, because when are the Kossacks really fair to anyone they disagree with?

But all of the problems Kos has with people who ought to be, at least in part, ideological compatriots are caused by Kos himself. He doesn't have to be so belligerent and self-dramatizing, but he is. People on his side of the aisle are already primed to attacke because they or someone they associate themselves with have already been attacked by Kos. When they pay attention to what Kos says and find little of substance, when they look at what he does and see a hint of hypocracy, when they look at his success-rate and find it wanting, they are already primed to criticize. It's his own fault that his arguments are not as reasoned as they are aggressive.

S.G. said...

The question is: If there is a conspiracy, cui bono? I'll tell you who doesn't bono: The GOP. Newt ain't blowing smoke. The GOP loves Kos. So who could it be, the author of this conspiracy?


Gahrie said...

Jaques Cuze has claimed:

"Regarding the Townhouse list, so you know bloggers on the left and right will also coordinate with each other via secret IMs, secret phone calls, and secret face to face meetings!

It's true!"

Well you are half right. No one has denied the existence of Townhall, or that the purpose of that mailing list is to coordinate leftwing bloggers.

But I challenge you to provide a single piece of evidence, or a single blogger to testify, that a similar rightwing mailing list (or conspiracy of IMs and e-mails) exists.

Anonymous said...


Exactly, but that's the problem, isn't it? Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer a little content in my political discourse. Tell me why I should vote the way you want me to vote. Lay out the reasons you think a political party should adopt the positions you seem to advocate. Tell me how they will work in practice and what benefit they will have for me and for the country. Yes, and spice it up with some good ol' arm-waving and podium-thumping, and don't forget to say bad things about the opposition.

Trouble is, all Kos seems to do is the electronic equivalent of arm-waving, podium thumping, and saying bad things. Very bad things. Obscenities that properly belong on Richard Nixon's tapes are regularly resurrected for what purpose I cannot say. There seems to be a kind of aggressive, in-group mindset that substitutes snarky code-phrases for argument and assumes things as facts that are far from demonstrated. Of course, none of this is new. See Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.”

Kos's rhetoric and style leave me completely unpersuaded. The 20-something Santa Monica slackers that seem to be his core demographic may be his source of power and riches. A thousand of them may show up at the Riviera Hotel. They may even vote ocassionally. All I can tell you and anyone connected with the Democratic Party is that I vote. Every time. My wife does, too. We're Democrats--or at least we were. And we sure as Hell won't vote for anyone blessed by this lunatic and his followers.

Palladian said...

"And as far as 'intellectual heft' is concerned, Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor, Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's goods and Thou shall not murder would seem to be so easy, they could be called elementary school philosophies, yet they remain beyond Bush's heft."

The only thing creepier than a right winger quoting biblical passages as an explanation of their political philosophy is when a lefty does it. Does your "remedial morality" include the parts about putting homosexuals to death and shunning people who wear mildewed clothes and prohibitions against eating lobsters?

Anonymous said...


I stand corrected. You're right. Many of the Kos Kids are not 20-something Santa Monica slackers, but, sadly, their parents.

Gordon Freece said...


"...traveling all over the country ... over twenty states..."

Let's don't tell 'em there's thirty more. They won't believe it anyway.

Kevin Hayden,

Not only have the media uniformly marched in lockstep with Rove's orders to discredit Kos & Co., but they also have nothing bad to say about Kos & Co. at all.

Or something.

Tim said...

Reps aren't going after Kos. As Gingrich noted, why on earth should they? He's a loser, he backs losers, his followers are losers (hi, "Jacque Cuse), they just lose, over and over again. Few things could be better for Republicans in the short term than for Kos and his Children of the Corn to ascend into power within the Democratic Party.

But the MSM isn't as dopey as Kos' typical camp follower. They surely hate Bush as much as Kos and his Children of the Corn do, and their animus for a strong America with an aggressive national security posture toward its enemies surely matches Kos and his Children of the Corn, but they know that pansy *ss cut and run sh*t won't sell with the electorate. So they've got to take down Kos before he and his Children of the Corn drive the Democrat Party into distinct minority status for the duration of the GWOT.

Unknown said...

Why do people think Kos is so liberal? He was one of the biggest supports of Webb in Virginia, who's to the right of almost every elected Democrat in the country.

Kos has served in the military and he's a former Republican.

Me thinks that the people who think he's a radical lefty have never actually read his blog.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, add to your excellent list of mysteries, "why does Althouse suddenly write of Althouse in the third person"?"

It's a literary device, indicating a voice other than mine, in dialogue with me. Italics work the same way. Is that really so difficult?

WV: yqxxu

Why, indeed.

Anonymous said...

It's a literary device. It's a symptom. literary device, symptom. Literary device and symptom. My brain chemistry and I, understand? Or is to too tough for you?

(just a riff, no disrespect intended)

Anonymous said...


You're on to something. My point has been that it is hard to know WHAT Kos stands for, exactly, through all the nonsense he spins. I indeed read Kos when I can stand it, but never late at night or on a full stomach.

Kos, to my mind, is NOT truly on the Left side of things. He's on the Kos side of things, and as such is a baleful influence. And, yes, he is very good at promoting name recognition among those who can tolerate him. He is also very good at promoting name recognition among those who will vote against any candidate he backs.

When the first surgical operation was performed under anesthetic at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846, the attending physician, Dr. Warren, declared, "Gentlemen, this is no humbug." Well, Kos has developed a political anesthetic that relieves his followers of the pain of thought. Given this achievement, we might declare, "Gentlemen, this is ALL humbug."

KCFleming said...

It's rough times in Kosville when folks like downtownlad reject his association. Of course, Kos has, like Dean, been part of the angry Left for years now, so jettisoning him might mean a shift to the center-left, or an attempt to appear so.

Moreover, I agree that this is also a NYTimes marketing strategy: They think the best way to shore up their eroding balance sheet is to show that the US won't have an effective anti-conservative and anti-military voice without it. Hence the anti-jihad leaks and the attacks on Kos.


Beth said...

tcd, that's a different email. I refer to an email Zengerle claims blogger Steve Gilliard sent to the Townhouse list.

Beth said...

Is that really so difficult?

Ann, yes, I'm familiar with literary devices. I was amused by the shift in voice, and wondered what was going through your mind at the time. I thought maybe you were using it to gently mock Kos' dilemmma. I'm baffled that my asking about it seems to have irritated you.

Anonymous said...

Oopsies, Jason Zenderle admits his journalism is more suspect than the bloggers.

richard mcenroe said...

Roger A — You don't see at least a potential problem with Jason, who is still under a permanent ban from stock trading by the SEC, being involved and soliciting and supposedly distributing political contributions over the internet?

reader_iam said...


I quoted from Kos/Armstrong's book because what you wrote brought that passage to my mind. It wasn't questioning your position, it was an insight into them.

All I can tell you and anyone connected with the Democratic Party is that I vote ...

While I'm a registered (and regular) voter, I'm not a registered Democrat ... or Republican. Now, because it's an option in Iowa, I'm registered as "no party"; when I lived in Delaware, I was registered as an Independent.

You and I agree about the discussion and content of things. I'm sorry if my original comment seemed to mislead you.

(Maybe it's because I'm reading Kos/Armstrong's book? Well, trust me, I'm reading a number of books, and they sort of encompass the spectrum. It's an eccentricity of mine.)

Rogers Cadenhead said...

"Looking at the chart it looks like Kos has lost support and this hoopla is self inflicted to get going back up again. ... Notice how 500 is support but in mid June that was breached."

You're right -- Kos has broken below his 13- and 50-day moving averages.

He could use the services of a tout.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for more thoughts. I appreciate your quotes from the book, which really helped make my point: Kos is no Walter Lippmann. Unfortunatelly, he doesn't seem to be much of a Karl Rove, either. And he drives me and a lot of other people crazy. In any event, I was just taking off from your point about the lack of any intellectual intent on his part, and I don't want to give the impression that I disagree or misunderstand in any way. I really appreciate the interesting discussion here, and I think it's the essence of good commenting to be able to riff from and extend each others' remarks.

BTW, I am a registered Republican. I changed my registration a few years ago to vote in an interesting primary, and haven't bothered to undo the damage. Otherwise, I am a "cultural Democrat"--Catholic, working-class background, half Irish, etc. It pains me beyond belief to have to pull the Republican lever occasionally, but unless the Democrats give up the likes of Kos, I'll continue to click around the dreaded "R" columns on the machine, at least in Federal elections.

Unknown said...

It's rough times in Kosville when folks like downtownlad reject his association.

Um - when did I reject his association? Honestly - I never even knew I had an association with him in the first place, that was there to reject.

I disagree with dailykos about 90% of the time, but I find his site entertaining and interesting. I think he's quite passionate in his opinions, which are decidedly anti-war. That's his prerogative, and it's shared by almost half of this country. What is the big deal.

I read all sorts of blogs, but tend to trend towards the libertarian, centrist ones - sites that actually tolerate some debate, i.e. Althouse, Kipesquire, Jon Rowe, etc. But when I want to see what the left thinks - I go to Kos and Atrios. When I want to see what the right thinks I go to the Corner.

If you don't like Kos - then don't read him. People need to get a life instead of obsessing over the fact that there are Americans who do not support the Bush agenda and enjoy reading a site like Kos.

The right fails to comprehend that people can legitimately hold leftist views, without being evil.

amba said...

Can you spell N-E-W P-A-R-T-Y? The Dems are dead men walking. Maybe Kos will finish them off. That would be merciful.

What's this about astrology?? And don't make me go to Kos to see.

Palladian said...

"The right fails to comprehend that people can legitimately hold leftist views, without being evil."

Would that you were so generous to people on the right who disagree with you about gay marriage.

But I guess hysterical name-calling is evidence of "passion", which some people seem to think is a unique and praiseworthy quality in people.

amba said...

"middle-aged leftover's from the 60s." Yeah, I think of them as "Left-overs." And they still think of themselves as kids.

Paco Wové said...

What's this about astrology?? And don't make me go to Kos to see.

Apparently, before he got into politics, Jerome Armstrong was an astrologer by trade.
E.g., [ref 1],[ref 2]

In today's update, Zengerle admits an error:

"Steve Gilliard claims that he did not write the email I attributed to him in this post. After doing some further investigating, I'm afraid to say that he is correct. He did not write that email. I apologize to Gilliard for not checking with him before publishing my post, and I regret the error."

but argues:

"the mistake that resulted from this failure has allowed Greenwald and others to try to use this minor error to distract people from much larger issues. Those issues are: Armstrong's troubles with the SEC; Armstrong's relationship with Moulitsas and Moulitsas's pattern of supporting politicians who hire Armstrong as a consultant; Moulitsas's attempts to silence liberal bloggers from commenting on these matters; the seeming acquiescence of so many of these liberal bloggers (including Greenwald) to Moulitsas's demands; and now, strangely, stuff like this."