Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 19, 2009

TAKING PROGRESSIVE NEW MEDIA TO THE NEXT LEVEL.... As you may have heard, Matt Cooper has joined Josh Marshall's TPM team, and will help cover the Obama administration for the new site, TPMDC. I think this is great, for a variety of reasons.

First, I was the weekend guy at TPM for six months in 2007, and I'm delighted to see the TPM powerhouse continue to grow and expand. Second, Matt Cooper started his career in journalism right here at the Washington Monthly, and we're always delighted to see the magazine's alumni do so well.

And third, today's TPM announcement reinforced a point we've been kicking around for a few weeks. The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb, who used to also blog for the McCain campaign, recently complained that the right lacked an "equivalent outlet" to offer TPM-like reporting. To revive the Republican Party, Goldfarb said, conservatives will need "the kind of online infrastructure the Democrats now have in place."

Responding to this, Matt Yglesias explained, "The issue ... isn't that the right doesn't have an outlet equivalent to TPM or other progressive sites. There are tons and tons of conservative media outlets, most of them with a web presence.... What the right lacks are people with the skill to do the job."

To that end, two major new media outlets have each made a major hire in recent weeks.

* TPM Media hired Matt Cooper, a 20-year veteran of political journalism and former White House correspondent for Time, to be a Washington correspondent.

* Pajamas Media hired Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, an unemployed, unlicensed plumber, to be a war correspondent in Israel.

"What the right lacks are people with the skill to do the job."

When conservatives wonder why the left seems to enjoy a new-media advantage, this should be a helpful hint.

Steve Benen 3:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Matt Cooper has joined Josh Marshall's TPM team

Was Judy Miller jealous?

Posted by: Danp on January 19, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

What the right lacks is people who want to do anything other than make money, money, money.

The right also lacks people with objectivity.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 19, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

what i find most heartening about this story is that even as the right looks for ways to catch up, and despite a euphoria that one could imagine inducing complacency, the left is keeping the pressure on and not letting up. this bodes well for what surely will be more challenging times ahead.

Posted by: zeitgeist on January 19, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, hatin' on Joe? Come on, he's doing a great job of showing what fools the right are.

Posted by: Tom Stewart on January 19, 2009 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"What the right lacks are people with the skill to do the job."

No. The right lacks facts that support their ideology.

The right lacks successful results stemming from their policies.

The right lacks honesty.

When the only way in which you can get people to follow you is to exaggerate your own qualifications and results, flat out lie about your opponents, and deceive the public, it does not matter how skilled your people are.

Posted by: bubba on January 19, 2009 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

What do you mean the right lacks skills? What if the toilet leaks at TPM? Can Matt fix a leaky toilet? Pajamas Media has that covered.

Posted by: Ron Chusid on January 19, 2009 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

What I think is interesting about Goldfarb's comments is that the right is always talking about small business and how it is the backbone of the American economy. Well, Josh@TPM and is ilk (Markos@dailykos, etc) have built successful businesses by providing a news source that, prior to their efforts, was being ignored in the marketplace.

So I suggest Mr Goldfarb invest in that infrastructure he finds lacking and do what Josh did a build a business that makes money to support his efforts. I know there are plenty of conservative blogs out there, but Mr Goldfarb himself laments the quality, or lack there of, available. So, is there a market for such a conservative news source?

Posted by: gaardvark on January 19, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

STOP giving them advice on how to repair their failure! Let them rot in the cesspool of the incompetence.

Then maybe the country will move in the direction it needs to go in, without blathering from the other side.

Posted by: Tigershark on January 19, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

This is deja vu all over again as they say. Remember when the main qualification to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority on Iraq reconstruction projects was being pro-life and having a good donor record to the GOP? What do skills and qualifications matter when you have the right beliefs. If just having a little faith gets you into heaven, why can't it also make you a great supervisor in charge of overseeing the reconstruction of a $500 million power plant?

Posted by: jonas on January 19, 2009 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the right-wing lacks another critical element in their efforts to match the progressive media. That would be a desire to do actual journalism. They seem to be much more interested in stunts, propaganda, and pontificating. Of course, I can see why that might be the case when the facts are against you.

Posted by: AK Liberal on January 19, 2009 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

bubba: No. The right lacks facts that support their ideology.



let's try it...

Bush White House opposes court order in e-mail case - AP 1/18/09

The Bush administration is aggressively pushing back against a federal court order instructing the most important offices in the White House to preserve all of their e-mail. - AP 1/18/09

gop logic: you should let the government look at anything they want..

unless you have something to hide...

oh wait...

ah...hang on...

Posted by: mr. irony on January 19, 2009 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

The problem for the Right is that it doesn't recognize competence as a necessity. The only qualities that are necessary are enthusiastic political loyalty, a belief in Biblical inerrancy, and a deep skepticism about basic facts that the wider world takes as self-evident. It's hard to make an enduring movement out of such attitudes, especially when it involves something more technologically sophisticated than targeted mailing lists and robo phone-call centers.

Posted by: bluestatedon on January 19, 2009 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Goldfarb said, conservatives will need "the kind of online infrastructure the Democrats now have in place."


"I am really and truly frightened by the collapse of support for the Republican Party by the young and the educated." - Conservative David Frum 11/16/08

Posted by: mr. irony on January 19, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

"What the right lacks are people with the skill to do the job."

What the right has are people with no capacity to admit their errors, to learn, to grow. They are right, their philosophy is right. There is nothing they need to change.

Their entire individual senses of self are based on these premises. Therefore they can never admit they are wrong, or that their philosophies are not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Because if they admitted that, they would have to admit that much of their life has been spent believing in lies.

Whenever conservative ideas fail in real life, it is never their fault. Someone stabbed them in the back. The ideas are ALWAYS right, the issue is imperfect execution.

So they are apologists not truth seekers. They have an agenda. Of course they have no interest in doing real journalism, because facts would show the deficiencies in their beliefs. They have to prove they are right, again and again, to justify their existence. Flat out lying is just fine, since the end justifies the means. And the end they are after is the one and only right way.

Posted by: stvwlf on January 19, 2009 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Gal Cal got it right. Right-wingers want to make money -- more money than they would make while climbing the ladder of journalism. When I began my reporting career in 1986, I was happy to make $23,000 a year. What's that in today's dollars -- $40,000? Right-wingers don't want to work for that kind of money, even if they can expect to make quite a bit more in a couple of decades if they're excellent at what they do.

When high-school and college students decide to go into a career in journalism, they do it for altruistic reasons. They want to tell people The Truth and make the world a better place. Snicker all you want at the intention and the results, but altruism truly is the biggest motivator. At least, it was for me and my friends.

Liberal altruism is open and diffuse (Making the World a Better Place), and that's why it's easy to make fun of. Conservative altruism tends to be goal-centered and authoritarian. ("I want everyone to worship as I do," or "I don't want women to be able to have abortions.") When conservatives choose to go into journalism, it's usually because they aren't smart enough to make big money. But they still have that authoritarian streak, so they gravitate toward propaganda outlets such as Fox News and the Washington Times.

Posted by: Holdie on January 19, 2009 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives are honest; they go into commentary. Liberals prize making a difference; they go into biased reporting.

Posted by: Luther on January 19, 2009 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

I recommend this article from Press think: "In the age of mass media, the press was able to define the sphere of legitimate debate with relative ease because the people on the receiving end were atomized-- connected "up" to Big Media but not across to each other. And now that authority is eroding. I will try to explain why."

The rest of the article is here:
Audience Atomization Overcome: Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press

I found it at Prairie Weather

Posted by: Maineiac on January 19, 2009 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK


What the right lacks is the recognition that the job actually does require some skill.

Posted by: Paul Camp on January 19, 2009 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

Steve: "As you may have heard, Matt Cooper has joined Josh Marshall's TPM team ..."

TPM is not what I would call progressive journalism. The thin-skinned Mr. Marshall was one of the Iraq War Resolution's early cheerleaders, an inconvenient fact he's rather you forget or overlook, especially given his recent slandering of Hillary Clinton and shameless cheerleading for Barack Obama during the Democratic primary season.

Matt Cooper, on the other hand, proved himself all too chummy with the outgoing Bush administration, to the point where Republicans felt comfortable leaking misinformation to him, like he was their personal stenographer.

I quit reading TPM about the same time as I stopped reading Matt Cooper. It's clearly a match made in heaven.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 20, 2009 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Hawaii, you're being incoherent, inasmuch as you're expressing wildly contradictory sentiments.

I didn't start visiting TPM until summer of 2004, well after the Iraq War Resolution was passed, so I can't address Marshall's support for it. However, even a casual visitor to TPM could not help notice Marshall's consistent and increasingly caustic criticism of the Bush administration's bungling in Iraq as the war progressed. Marshall is certainly not alone in having been bamboozled into supporting the idea of attacking Iraq.

In fact, that list of bamboozled includes one Hillary Clinton, but somehow you've given her a pass for her vote for the Iraq War Resolution. Perhaps it's because you're a still-bitter Hillary supporter, which I gather you are as you subscribe to the notion that somehow TPM "slandered" Clinton. I was an early supporter of Clinton and would have happily voted for her last November, and the idea that Josh Marshall or TPM "slandered" Clinton is exactly the kind of fevered paranoia that seems to characterize a certain segment of her supporters, where any critical observation of Clinton or her campaign was tantamount to "slander."

What I find odd, though, is that you're criticizing Marshall for being a proponent of the Iraq War Resolution, not criticizing Hillary for voting for it, and conveniently neglecting to mention that Obama was an early opponent of the war and the resolution.

As far as the "shameless cheerleading" for Obama goes, you're apparently asserting that criticizing Clinton and writing favorable posts about Obama means that Marshall and TPM are not "progressive." That's completely and thoroughly fatuous.

Virtually alone, Marshall and TPM broke the story of the firing of the US Attorneys by the Bush DOJ. Marshall in particular is one of the most knowledgeable journalists in the country about the recent history of Republican efforts to smear legitimate Democratic efforts at voter registration across the country as "voter fraud." TPM has been a dogged investigator and documenter of the manifold corruption within the Bush Administration and GOP, devoting an entire segment of the TPM site to the topic. There isn't a single mainstream media outlet, print or online, that has done the same thing. Frankly, TPM in its coverage of the corrosively corrupt and incompetent Republican establishment in Washington D.C. and across the country, is comfortably within the progressive tradition.

Posted by: bluestatedon on January 20, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK



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