SDP would like to welcome aboard Madison blogger Coralhei!
Iowahawk discovered the first draft of the latest CBS report on the blogging menace while rooting through a dumpster behind CBS headquarters in Manhattan: "Experts Tell CBS: Time to Clean Up the Blog Industry." Excerpt:
Also known as "weblos" or "ternetbls," these online publications began to appear on computer screens in early 2004, where they were first seen as an efficient way for ordinary citizens to share delicious dessert recipes and adorable pet photos. Instead, Internet blogs are increasingly being used for a darker purpose: to spread unregulated political opinions. Cleverly exploiting a loophole in the First Amendment, Internet blogs have gained many of the protections of legitimate media, such as newspapers and television. They are increasingly gaining influence....
Little over a month ago, the first Senate party leader in 52 years was ousted when South Dakota Republican John Thune defeated top Senate Democrat Tom Daschle. While more than $40 million was spent in the race, saturating the airwaves with advertising, it is clear that outcome was determined in the shadowy bowels of the violent South Dakota blog underworld: two leading South Dakota blogs were authored by paid advisers to Thune’s campaign.
Federal Election Commission documents obtained by CBS News show that in October the Thune campaign paid Jon Lauck, of Daschle v Thune, $27,000 and Jason Van Beek, South Dakota Politics, $8,000. Both blogs favored Thune, but neither gave any disclaimer during the election that the authors were on the payroll of the Republican candidate.
The shocking allegations were originally uncovered by KELO-TV and The Sioux Falls Argus Leader, after their advertising sales staffs reported increased buying resistance from the Thune campaign.
Read the whole thing.
Jeff Jarvis, the creator of Entertainment Weekly, has an interesting article headlined "The news as conversation" about blogs, or what he calls "citizens' media." The most intriguing passage is about the effect of blogs at the local level. Relevant excerpt:
...I believe the real and lasting political impact of citizens' media will be felt locally, as town and state candidates use these tools to raise money, and get supporters out on the stump, and talk with voters. I don't know my state and county officials; do you know yours? A simple blog will help turn a faceless local pol into a neighbor and a campaign into a conversation.
Nationally and locally, candidates will continue to use blogs to get their messages to voters - bypassing the old gatekeepers of the news media. When enough candidates are elected because of blogs, we'll find this new medium creeping into government, too. I recently sent letters to my senator and congressman protesting the Federal Communications Commission's censorship of TV, and I waited weeks to get back letters explaining their positions. How much more efficient, informative and interactive it would be for those lawmakers to post their stands and responses on blogs for all their voters to see.
I'm sorry about the sparse blogging, but I've just been relaxing a bit and savoring John Thune's victory. Throughout the past few days, a quote from Margaret Mead has been prominent in my mind. Here it is:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Interestingly, Senator Daschle began his own blog in the summer of 2003, but the press coverage of Daschle's blogging efforts prompted Instapundit to tell his readers to "Forget Tom Daschle's blog: The South Dakota Politics blog is where you want to go, if you're interested in, well, South Dakota politics." Instapundit's link gave SDP a massive boost in readership, which resulted in a proportional number of people who began to understand that one of the reasons Senator Daschle continued to win elections in South Dakota was because the most influential newspaper in the state refused to scrutinize his contradictions.
Then, in January of 2004, when John Thune decided to challenge Senator Daschle, Professor Jon Lauck began his blog, Daschle v. Thune, and the Dakota Blog Alliance was born. Professor Lauck massively expanded the influence of the blogs. His keen insights and prodigious work ethic made the criticism of the Argus Leader even more devastating, and resulted in even more shrill ad hominem attacks from Randell Beck, the executive editor of the Argus Leader. At one point, Beck even played the Hitler card: "Hitler would have had a blog," he said. Furthermore, as DVT noted, Beck said that blog criticism of the Argus Leader was "'crap' driven by a 'violent' internet 'cabal' of 'yahoos' and 'jokers,' who are full of 'hatred' and 'vitriol' and lacked 'guts' because they hid 'behind their computer screens' and wouldn't face him 'man to man.'"
By this time, the DBA had expanded to include Ryne McClaren and Quentin Riggins. Randell Beck became an object of ridicule around the country, as other bloggers took notice of his ranting, and prominent bloggers like Andrew Sullivan and Instapundit, as well as columnist Mark Steyn, were aghast at the studied hostility of Randell Beck to reasonable, fact-drawn criticism.
I think the Dakota Alliance, among many other things, played a role in the Thune victory. People are beginning to understand that the rise of the Dakota Blog Alliance has forever changed the contours of politics in this state. Today, the Grand Forks Herald in NORTH Dakota had this to say about the DBA:
This little-noticed development deserves a lot more attention.
The Daschle-Thune race differed from previous South Dakota Senate races in this way: Conservative Web logs gave South Dakota voters access to news like never before.
Take a look and you'll see what we mean: Web sites such as Daschle vs. Thune (daschlevthune.typepad.com/daschle_v_thune/) and a few others chipped away at Daschle's image day after day.
They also charged South Dakota's major newspapers were in Daschle's pocket. They backed the charge by showcasing, for example, the fact that Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader's political reporter had been active in the Democratic Party as a South Dakota State University student in the 1960s - as had his then-friend and fellow student, Tom Daschle.
These Web logs served as a South Dakota version of Rush Limbaugh's talk show, legitimizing criticism of the incumbent and using the media as a whipping boy. The reports galvanized Daschle's opposition and gave them lots of material to rally around.
Balanced? No. Fair? Probably not. Effective? Yes.
National talk radio host Laura Ingraham will be in Sioux Falls next week and has scheduled time to blog with DVT and SDP. We'll be getting her take on the Daschle v. Thune race, among other things. More details soon.
I can only stand in awe of John Hinderaker, the man who almost singlehandedly has Dan Rather making his last stand on the CBS Evening News tonight.
John was kind enough to deliver the keynote address at the Dakota Blog Alliance Conference a few weeks ago. In many ways, it's because of John (a South Dakota native) and his colleagues at Power Line that the Dakota Blog Alliance has become so successful.
The Rapid City Journal has started a blog (called Mt. Blogmore) that will be operated by political reporter Denise Ross, among others. Though it just started yesterday, they already have four posts up. Conversely, the Argus Leader blog has been up and running for around six weeks, and they've only posted nine times. I think most will agree that the RCJ blog is already much more interesting than the AL blog.
Wow. Ryne McClaren has an exhaustively detailed report of his visit with Senator Daschle today in Custer, SD. Ryne asked Daschle about Zell Miller, DNC chair Terry McAuliffe (apparently in Daschle's world Terry McAuliffe is a critic! Who knew?), and the rumors regarding returning a portion of the Black Hills to the Sioux Nation. Kudos to Ryne, who did a fantastic job on this report. I don't think any reporters in the state have asked Daschle the questions Ryne asked him.
DVT notes Ryne's report of Daschle's coyness about the topic for discussion at the September 25 meeting between Daschle and South Dakota's tribal chairmen. "We're going to be discussing opening a dialogue," Daschle said.
Of course, the reason Daschle is having this meeting is because that was the agreed upon exchange for getting prominent Native American journalist Tim Giago out of the Senate race. The Washington Post reported at the time, in a story headlined "Daschle Gains Support of Rival" that:
While Giago would not go into detail about the issues he and Daschle discussed, he has said that he wanted Daschle to open dialogue on returning the sacred Black Hills to the tribes of the Sioux Nation, and to help remedy the lack of economic opportunities on the state's reservations, the poorest in the country. Giago had expressed distress that Daschle did not seem open to discussing the Black Hills.
First, don't forget to read Greg Belfrage's blog, as he will now be posting everyday, and will have a daily feature on his radio show called "Blogging Item of the Day."
I've also discovered a couple of new blogs that I think are worth perusing. First, John LaPlante, who recently posted to the Detroit News blog about the Dakota Alliance, e-mailed me today and informed me of his blog, "PolicyGuy."
Also, closer to home, I ran across a blog called "shirleyruminations" in my referral log, written by Anne Shirley. Anne lives in Garretson, SD and blogs about politics, Catholicism, mothering, etc. Speaking of Catholicism, there still hasn't been anything in the Argus Leader about this.
Be sure to clear your calendar for the Dakota Blog Alliance Conference on Saturday, August 14, at Augustana College. My presentation for the conference is tentatively titled "Blogs and the Argus Leader: Beyond Conventional Wisdom." Be there!
Hindrocket over at Power Line has some kind words for SDP and DVT today, under the headline "Let's Hold the Senate." Excerpt:
As a native South Dakotan, I follow that state's politics fairly closely, and Thune is a solid conservative and a terrific candidate. He also is, or claims to be, anyway, a Power Line reader. In truth, I suspect he knows us mainly through South Dakota Politics and Daschle v. Thune, two excellent South Dakota blogs. In South Dakota, probably more than any other state, bloggers are playing a key role in mitigating the influence of liberal news media.
John Hinderaker, formerly of Watertown, SD, has some fresh analysis on the Daschle-Thune race that's worth a read: "Daschle In Trouble." Instapundit also has some thoughts on the "Daschle in trouble" meme.
The Dakota Alliance is really starting to hit its stride this week. First, see Sibby Online's new Typepad based blog. Then read the latest tour de force at DVT responding to Joshua Micah Marshall's post on the Daschle v. Thune race. Sioux Falls radio personality Greg Belfrage has also been demonstrating his customary wit and insight on the web of late. These guys are all way ahead of the curve on all the political goings-on in South Dakota. No matter what the Yankton Press & Dakotan thinks.