The blogosphere is positively radioactive with the buzz of the day – the battle between Kos and The New Republic (TNR). Kos and his bloggers are unleashing torrents of vitriol at the TNR. The TNR is taking on a bored, dismissive, patrician tone against Kos. “We’ve never visited his blog before now,” they sniff. The right side of the blogosphere is delightedly jumping up and down like the monkeys in a CareerBuilder.com commercial as Kos and his cronies are beaten like piñatas. That’s all tactical. The strategic, long-term conflict is quite different.
Some commenter somewhere said that you can bring down Kos or his buddies and he will be replaced instantly. It’s the model that counts, not the individual. I think that was right on. Whether it’s Kos or Glenn Reynolds or Hugh Hewitt, it’s the model that’s changing. Alvin Toffler has written best sellers about these kinds of conflicts between societal models. The Civil War, for example, was a battle between an agrarian way of life and an industrial way of life. In the end, the new model won out. The South won several battles, but the outcome of the war was almost predetermined because of the immense advantages of the North.
In this case, big media is winning a battle while losing a war. The TNR’s professional writers and their fellow travelers are uncovering all manner of silly and possibly unethical things that Kos and his friends have done. Ann Althouse wrote about the muckraking being used to drag down Kos and his minions. Astrology, payola, the blinkered enforcement of orthodoxy, Kos is being charged with it all. So what if it’s true? Kos and the blogosphere will win in the end.
The fixed costs of running TNR or the New York Times or the CBS Evening News make them uncompetitive. Offices, staffs, production equipment, insurance and interest on business loans have to be paid whether magazines and newspapers are sold or not. Bloggers pay none of that. Politicians like Hillary Clinton are similarly on the losing end of this.
Take a look at the continual publicity Instapundit gives Pork Busters. Backroom deals and influence peddling are part of the old model. It’s getting harder and harder to work that way, thanks to the new model.
Both Hillary and the TNR are institutionally in opposition to Kos and the blogosphere. They cannot continue as they have in the face of this new wave. They’re winning this round, but I wouldn’t bet on them in the long run.
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