Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Huffington Post Sells Out

The Huffington Post has sold out. . . and the left ain’t happy about it. Ha ha ha! The transaction is simple: in exchange for $315 million, mostly in cash, AOL will be buying HuffPo from Arianna Huffington and some of her investors. As part of the deal, Huffington will become chief of AOL’s editorial content. Liberals are aghast. Do they have cause to be? And why can’t conservatives make their own Huffington Post?

The Left HAS Indeed Been Sold Out
For months now, leftists have been unhappy with Arianne and her little website. Indeed, several progressive blogs have attacked her for betraying “progressive ideas” (a true oxymoron) in the name of corporate America. This sale will only reinforce that view, as some of the comments I’ve seen clearly indicate:
● “This is just depressing.”

● “I am truly disappoint. (sic)”

● “Taps for HuffPost. It was promising while it lasted.”

● “It was fun well (sic) it lasted but you sold out to corporate America. It's a real shame that you are going against everything you preached about corporate America.”
Ah.... there are few pick-me-ups as strong as leftist self-pity. In any event, these leftists are not entirely wrong. For some time now, Huffington Post has been intentionally drifting to the center. Don’t believe me? Ok, listen to the Huffers:
● Huffer Christine Pelosi (whose mother is a noted witch) said that she was “bemused by the left-right paradigm since Arianna evolved past that long ago.”

● Huffer Howard Fineman says, “there’s no question about the history of it, but you have to appreciate that it’s going to go beyond that. There are definitely going to be people in the progressive community who are going to say, ‘Wait, you’re abandoning us,’ but most of them will realize that we’re just going to make the circle bigger.”

● Huffington herself says: “we are very committed to continue what we have been working on very hard at the Huffington Post to change that mindset. We are calling it beyond left and right, and this is how our coverage will continue.”
The merger may be part of this. By expanding Huffpo to a more moderate audience and by continuing to bring in Washington insiders (like Fineman), it sounds like this merger is the Washington establishment trying to co-opt the asylum wing of the Democratic Party. Indeed, consider this quote from a Huffer strategist: “I think the progressives have a lot to be excited about here, but I think people who follow Beltway journalism have a lot to be excited about too.” That sounds suspiciously like a forced marriage, and the establishment is now holding the deed to the family home.
Why The Right Hasn’t Matched HuffPo’s Success
In any event, this sale raises an issue that often troubles me. There is no doubting the influence of HuffPo in organizing the left and giving them a home base on the web. Why can’t conservatives achieve the same thing? I think the answer lies in a few problems:

First, conservatives don't work together. Right now, the most important conservative talking heads are either entertainers seeking to promote themselves so they can make money (e.g. Rush, Beck, etc.), politicians looking to support their own campaigns or books (e.g. Palin, Newt), or talking heads looking to pimp their magazines (e.g. NRO, Weekly Standard). What HuffPo did brilliantly was to create a platform where everyone on the left could contribute, but none of them could dominate. Thus, whereas the left can turn to Huffpo to see what everyone is saying, the right must sort through dozens of different sites to see what the right is saying. A single, central site that caters to all conservatives is what is needed here.

Secondly, and more importantly, conservatives are still stuck in the idea that politics is something separate than everything else. Because sports, music, film, etc. are not political per se, conservatives never think to offer these things along side politics. Huffington smartly understood this and now claims that only 15% of HuffPo's business involves politics. What conservatives can learn from this is to copy the news model, just as Huffpo did. XYZ News doesn't create separate websites to handle politics, national news, sports and entertainment. Instead, it creates a single entry page from which visitors can see everything the website has to offer that day and from which they can then choose what they want to see. Moreover, their offerings go beyond pure politics, because variety is what keeps people at the site and gives different people (i.e. those who are not ultra-political) a reason to be there.

The day conservatives put together a website that looks and acts like a news site, which includes opinion and straight news, which includes both political and non-political features, and which brings together important conservatives of all stripes as contributors rather than allowing the website to act as a tool of one or two of them, then we will have something that will easily outstrip Huffpo and the rest of the MSM. Until then, forget it.

What do you think?


76 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

I think the door is wide open for an enterprising conservative such as yourself to step into the breech :-)

I do agree with your assessment on the types of conservatives in the media.

Maybe the left is not quite as 1 stop shop as we think.

To me, it is one more voice that goes with a liberal content page they will try and make one's home page (such as Yahoo.)

DUQ said...

I'm surprised that anyone is surprised that she sold out. What did they expect? She's 1st and foremost a rich woman who knows how to make more money.

Re the conservative equivalent, we have it relatively easy with talk radio. We can tune into Rush and Sean and countless others to hear variations on what we believe. In that regard, I don't think we feel the pressing need for another outlet.

But I agree with Jed - it's high time Commentarama stepped into the role!

T_Rav said...

Andrew, while I agree with TJ as to who might be a good choice to run such an all-embracing organization, I gotta say, I don't think the way we have it now is all that bad. I visit a lot of different sites to get my news--here, the Bigs, HotAir, Ace of Spades--and I think that's good, because they all cover different stories, and through that I can get a fairly composite idea of what's going on right now. If a single site was trying to cover all that, it might collapse under its own weight. Plus, I worry that if there was a single "spokesman" for conservative opinion, it might do as much to alienate as to attract us righties. I can see the other side of it, but I think the plurality of outlets we have right now is a good thing.

Tam said...

what about fox news online? They have news content from many different contributors, opinions, as well as sports, entertainment, weather, etc. And they wipe hte floor with liberal asses as MSM goes.

LL said...

The conservatives don't have a single movement anymore than the liberals do. To the extent that HuffPo addressed that pantheon of liberal angst, it's been effective...and maybe less so in the future.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

I disagree slightly with your assessment.

Yes, the left has centralized in HuffPo, but the problem is that it is the one of two places, Daily Kos being the other. Oh there are some smaller sites and I assume one of them will become bigger as the left jumps from Huffpo, but it still will be a one to two site mentality. I think Daily Kos will accomodate them.

Second, who says that the Conservatives haven't gotten the memo about Politics is hooked into everything else. The Tea Parties have.

Third, working together? Are you some kind of Communist? Hehehehe. ;-) Like Adam Smith's pencil, the conservatives don't need CENTRAL PLANNING to work.

Since Huffpo is going mainstream, who says conservatives can't co-opt it?

Last, but not least, Have you been over to the Bigs? That is actually six differant sites working together for Breibart. Big Peace, Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, Breitbart.com and Breitbart.tv. Lest we forget, Breitbart set up Huffpo before he created his own.

Now, I travel to a lot of sites. I prefer it that way because I get better informed.

If the right loses one site, for whatever reason, there are quite a few ready to step into their place. The left? Well, I know of only Daily Kos, and Huffpo. It lost one of it's biggest. Now what? If it loses DK what happens then?

This is just a progression. As more people become aware, the far left loons, who currently are running the country into the ground, are becoming more and more irrelevant. Their place in the sun is getting smaller and far more fringe-like. Which is a good thing.

Is Huffington going corporate? That is the interesting part. I believe she always was. She is more of an opportunist than anything else.

Her beliefs shift with the prevailing winds of history. She was conservative first, transformed into liberal, and now she is tacking back to conservative. If she wasn't such a witch with her "Arnold Schwarzenegger" accent, I could admire her abilities. As it is, she is unprincipled as well as deceitful and hypocritical.

I am not an admirer of AOL. This marriage might work, but more than likely, AOL will go under. Huffpo will be it's undoing. Do I care? Nope. Am I having a schandenfreude moment? Yep. :-))

StanH said...

Though I agree with the thrust of your article, I disagree about the right, they are starting to make inroads in that regard, the Bigs, The Dailey Caller, etc. The one glaring thing that Huffpro has that a conservative site does not, 90% of the MSM to act as an echo chamber for their writers, the same goes for Media Matters and Move On.org. As far as talk radio, they were the voice in the wilderness for decades, and do mention some these conservative websites from time too time, but can’t compete with the bulk of the press. FOX is the one exception, but in their eternal quest to be “fair & balanced,” enhance the left’s dominance in the press. As far as AOL purchasing Huffpo, all that glitters is not gold, can they monetize $315million, and if past experience can used as a yardstick, this may harkin the end of Huffpro, AOL ain’t what they used to be, we’ll see. And lets not forget, the new on the scene blogs like Commentarama, who can be as informative and in-depth as any of the major sites out there, without all of the bells and whistles. So, I think the future is bright indeed.

CrispyRice said...

I agree with LL. The HuffPo may seem like a united front for the libs, but really the Dem party is made up of some seriously odd bedfellows. (Union workers and gay rights lobbyists? Socialists and pothead anarchists?)

But, we on the right have the same issues. The moral majority doesn't necessarily agree with the fiscal conservatives, and there are a myriad of pet causes in between with people who just focus on their single issue don't pay attention to social or financial issues. (Just like the left...)

Perhaps it's not so easy to make a one-size fits all site.

Tam said...

I was thinking about this in the car on as I took my kid to school this morning...we do have a few conservative outlets that provide more than just political stories, but conservatives don't flock to them because I think that it is against our nature to flock, while it is very much the nature of liberal lefists to follow the herd.

BevfromNYC said...

First of all, it's really funny reading all of the comments on the "anti-corporatist" HuffPo, since HuffPo is now going all-in as "corporatist". For a long time it has appeared that HuffPo was some grassroots website for all the libs to gather alot like Big Hollywood was in Jan 2009. Of course, it only appeared that way.

This is my take - Conservatives are generally older and less tech savvy (present company excluded) and still get their info from talk radio, magazines, and newpapers and actually physical interaction with other human beings in the flesh. They tend to still be joining local political groups, go to church, etc.

Libs are generally younger and more tech savvy and get their info almost exclusively from the web including most of their social interaction.

So, in conclusion, Conservatives have been slower to embrace the online world, but they are catching up now that many "oldsters" realize how much info they have at their fingertips. However, Joel is absolutely correct about the Tea Partiers. We are more tech savvy and have more easily embraced technology. That is why the movement grew nation-wide so quickly.

CrispyRice said...

Good point, Bev! Don't forget, too, that we conservatives have jobs where we generally actually have to PRODUCE something, as opposed to jobs that let us hang around online all day without getting fired. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Sorry I'm late everyone. :-)

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I know the perfect site. I'll do the hard work of recruiting the writers, and you do the easy job of paying them. That's fair, isn't it?

But seriously, folks, we are seriously lacking in a truly open-forum omni-delivering conservative website that rivals the HuffPo and DailyKos. FoxNews is the closest thing to it, but it has its own agenda and its "stars" tend to control the content. And as Stan said, it has the problem of its motto of "fair and balanced," so you get contributors such as Juan Williams, Alan Colmes and the loathsome hip-hop race-baiting Marc Lamont Hill. Properly done, a conservative site to match HuffPo and DailyKos will not be fair and balanced, just truthful.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree that the left isn't as unified as it seems. But I also think there's no doubting that Huffpo is the big kid on the block for them, and it's become a sort of national newspaper of leftism -- which is pretty impressive when you consider that so much of the media already caters to that.

What I think Huffpo did so well was to create a single "clearing house" in a way for all leftists, whereas we've never had that on the right because everyone on the right has been busy building their own internet empires. So that has given the left a sense of unity at Huffpo, that we can't match.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Talk radio is no substitute. Talk radio works for people who are fans of that particular person, but they don't attract people who aren't fans and they don't attract people who don't listen to the radio. Everybody is on the web by now.

Also, they don't "share" because they are interested in promoting each other. Nor can you really find much with these guys. Rush may touch upon the news, but he certainly isn't going to read to you the thoughts of a dozen political writers and let you hear a dozen interviews done of prominent conservatives. It's just not that kind of format.

So while I think talk radio has been valuable for certain parts of the base, it's power to reach beyond the base or to unify conservatives is near zero. That's what HuffPo does so well -- it allows pulls in people who aren't already part of the choir and it lets them see what the left has to say.

BevfromNYC said...

Crispy - I forgot to add that in, but your are right, we have jobs.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'm not so sure this is the end of Huffpo. Depends on whether Huffy changes the editorial content.
It may end up being the same thing with simply different owners.
Not that I'm not hoping for its demise.

Afterall, AOL was the kiss of death for Time (or vice versa...but either way).

At any rate, the left will always have their volk in some form, be it DKos, Firedoglake, DU, etc., for those who don't wanna feel like sellouts (although that's pretty much all the left is and indeed must be, because it's too narrow to include blue dogs and centrists anymore and leftists like Soros can't get or remain wealthy without being sellouts to begin with since the leftist ideology is so anti-capitalist/free market).

For the left to survive (and to survive they must have money because very few idiots will actually buy their ideas) they had to become "the man" and speak power to truth instead of truth to power (because the truth is not their friend so they gotta go with power and force).

And it's not like Arianna can truthfully say: "we're the man, dahling, and have been for years. Didn't you get the memo? Poor dears, of course you didn't. Yes, of course that would make us hypocrites but fortunately we are beyond those pesky standards. No, no, don't try to understand...it's complicated." :^)

Anyways, as long as Huffing n' pissed has a sponser I think they'll survive but there may be something to AOL at least trying to become more centrist...I mean make Huffpo more centrist (is there a difference?).

I think if they do they'll lose most of their celebrity voices and basically become another Slate which is hardly centrist by definition but compared to Huffpo/Dkos pretty much everything is to their right.

So they can talk about bigger circles and "beyond left and right" (which sounds incredibly stupid, even for leftists and not nearly jingoistic enough to catch on or sooth the herd) but I predict little will change at Huffpo if they wanna stay in business (such as it is).
It's not like Rupert Murdock bought them out.

However, it is fun to watch the ensuing chaos and distilled angsst over there and among lefty pundits. :^)

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, That's exactly what I'm NOT talking about -- creating one site that would try to lead conservatives. That's what people like Beck are trying to do with his new site. They want to create THE place that conservatives hang out, and feature themselves prominently, so that people will follow them.

I'm talking about something more like a newspaper or a news website, that acts more like a clearinghouse. When you go to FOX, for example, you don't have Roger Ailes chiming in on each story, you don't see his picture everywhere, and the place isn't full of articles about him. They simply divide their site into different sections -- news, politics, sports, etc. And within each site, they mix news (AP stories mainly) and analysis (in-house and outside editorials), and they basically stay neutral. I'm talking about something similar to that only with a broader take on conservatism than FOX tends to offer.

(continued)

AndrewPrice said...

(continued)
In terms of what's out there right now, I do think it's inadequate. Takes the "Bigs" for example. There is no easy way to see what all the Bigs are offering that day. If I want to see what they have, I need to click to each site and then scroll down each page. And forget finding out what's on Breitbart.

Moreover, what the Bigs cover is largely random because they are just big blogs -- in other words, I can't go there for news and I have no guarantee that they will be covering newsworthy items. By comparison, news sites and even Huffpo are much better at making sure that relevant topics are covered because they have a broader base of contributors and they pay people to write articles connected to the news. . . . it takes money to make money.

Moreover, there is nothing at the Bigs that would be of interest to anyone who doesn't already like conservative blogs. How does that expand the conservative base or bring in people like some of my relatives who check FOX news but won't bother with blogs? It doesn't. That's why I say they need to expand their offerings. If a single conservative site offered news, sports, etc., those are like gateway news articles that bring people in and keep them in. Blogs in their present format are just too limited. So we need to get out of the blog mindset and more into the "how do I attract people" mindset.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, I think Fox is a good start. I have three problems with Fox right now though.

First, FOX presents itself as an unbiased news site. I think that may be holding them back because "the flagship of conservatism" needs to be open about being ideological. I would advise them to spin off "The Foxington Post."

Secondly, FOX's brand of conservatism is very limited. They seem to be firmly rooted in the Weekly Standard/NeoCon/Washington Establishment camp and are not good at recognizing other strains of conservatism. So what they would need to do, in my opinion, is to expand their offering into avenues they don't really cover at the moment.

Finally, I think they need to get deeper. Most of what I've seen at FOX is really surface thinking and it gets very dumbed down. I don't agree with what I've read at Huffpo, but I have to give then credit for not being the least bit afraid of diving into the deep end and hitting people with obscure stories and complex stories. FOX has shown an aversion to that.

If they do that, then they could well claim the crown.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

As for the right, I concur with T-Rav and everyone else that we are more decentralized than the left.

Reminds me of the Cold War in many ways. The USSR (and China) were centralized and, being communists they hadta be.

Whereas the US is decentralized (less so under Carter, Clinton and Obama but still more so than the commies, although I'm sure ObaMao would like to "fix" that).

Their military had to ask permission to do virtually anything and everything. Their captains and commanders were merely messengers dressed up as captains and commanders.

Certainly they could never actually command a vessel like our Navy captains could nor were they allowed to make command decisions on their own.

Centralized command and control is not flexible at all, is very time consuming (bureaucracy!), is bad for morale and will always be inferior to decentralized command and control for many reasons (beyond the ones I listed).

This works the same way on the political battlefields as well if there are standards and principles to operate under (self evident truths).

The similarities are striking so it pays to learn about the cold war years to see what worked and what didn't work (micromanagement aka centralized planning aka bureaucracy aka more red tape than you can afford never works well as we all know, but it's good to see why it doesn't even under the best circumstances available).

I also concur that this is why there will not be a conservative/classical liberal/libertarian super duper rightwing version of Huffpo/Dkos.

Rather than more specialized and decentralized blogs.
We conservatives simply don't have that herd instinct like most on the left have, and it sticks in our craw when someone tries to tell us not to think for ourselves and oh, btw, here's your talking points.

In a nutshell, the left by it's very nature are collectivists while most of those on the right value the individual and liberty more.

In fact, no matter how one tries it's impossible to be a collectivist (ie socialist/neocommie/commie) and still value and have liberty.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I think that's right. I don't think either side (left or right) can be described as uniform. What I think Huffpo did so well though (and what we haven't done so well) is to bring together a fairly large swath of leftists and give them a home base where they could all talk.

I think this merger will hurt that a bit, but it might also expand them. It's a bit of a gamble. They will get wider, but maybe not as intense?

What I suspect they are trying to do is to steal the trappings of the progressives and give it to the establishment, in the hopes of forcing a merger of the two and weakening their far left flank. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I agree about Huffington, I think she's always been an opportunist and I'm not surprised that she would move to where she thinks the public is headed. And right now, I think we've seen the outer limits of progressive power in the US. In other words, that's all they've got and it wasn't much. So it was time for her to move on.

In terms of the Bigs, I outlined some of my problems with them above -- they are not easy to use, they lack conservative "star power," they are purely political, and they are rather amateurish. I think there is a lot of good stuff to work with there, but it's not well handled.

In terms of having just two sites, I think that's incorrect. The left has all the same things we have -- blogs, etc. -- PLUS HuffPo and the DailyKos (and a few others as well as the MSM). We're the ones who are behind here because we only have the amateur tier of what the left has and an MSM equivalent in FOX -- we don't have the "power" web presence of HuffPo and DailyKos.

In terms of whether it would hurt them to lose both HuffPo and DailyKos, I think we're about to find out. I think it's pretty obvious that Huffpo is selling them out to the center left. So will they move to DailyKos? Will they create something new like a Huff2? I don't know.

(continued)

AndrewPrice said...

(continued)
When it comes to visiting multiple sites, the problem is that while you don't mind visiting multiple sites, most people want convenience. And the goal of politics is to reach as many people as possible and to convince them that you are right. You can't do that if the only people who come to your place are already believers. The idea behind making a truly easy to use conservative site is that it attracts people who aren't super political already and don't already spend their time reading multiple sources.

I've never thought much about AOL either.

In terms of my point about politics v. nonpolitics, I don't think the Tea Party answers that concern. The Tea Party is a group of people who weren't actively political, but now are. They aren't trying to mix politics with sports, films, etc. They are simply a political movement.

Central planning -- LOL! Nice! :-) Of course, I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about just providing a central platform, just like a newspaper is a central platform for various types of news articles. In fact, I think the real key would be to be very light on the editorial control.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, Don't get me wrong, I'm not pessimistic. I'm not saying we're doomed or anything like that. What I'm saying is that we aren't there yet and I've given the reasons I think we aren't there.

I think there is a huge opportunity out there right now for the first conservative to take that next step and create a conservative version of Huffpo -- as Jed says, something you'd want to make into a homepage.

In terms of AOL/Huffpo, I'm not sure AOL is the right partner. A better partner would have been a Bing or Yahoo. If they had combined Huffpo with a search engine, that could have truly been monumental.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew:

Thanks for clarifying, because I wasn't sure precisely what you meant about the right having something similar to Huffpo.

I think what you are saying is possible and I agree that it's unlikely to be Fox (also concur with your ecellent analysis of Fox).

The closest thing we have to that type of big tent right now appears to be The Daily Caller and Hot Air (although HA doesn't have the sports, crime stories, and other news like The DC it does get more traffic).

The DC seems to be a step up from Fox in many ways but it's not entirely conservative either, so it's unlikely in their present incarnation to get as big as Huffpo. At least not for conservatives/libertarians.

I mean, the elements are there, but they would probably hafta merge with HA and a few more big conservative sites as well as attract the most popular conservative writers (Thomas Sowell, Doctor Zero, Ace, You guys :^), Andrew
Klavan, Iowahawk, etc.).
And then merge that with Big Hollywood.

Because let's face it, Huffpo attracts a lot of people because they get a lot of celebrities to blog there.
Granted, most of them are imbeciles but they are still main attractions nevertheless.

You said:

"Moreover, there is nothing at the Bigs that would be of interest to anyone who doesn't already like conservative blogs."

I disagree. What about the posts by celebrities like Adam Baldwin, Clint Howard, etc.?
Perhaps they should be featured more, marketed better, and we need to get the word out too. If we know someone who is a fan of one of the conservative stars we can tell them about it.

Anyway, just a few ideas. Easier said than done, lol.

Great post!

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I think the key would be to provide a broad offering of conservatism and maintain very loose editorial controls -- stop flame wars, stop truly offensive posts, make sure the quality of the offering is good and perform spell checking, etc. But in terms of ideology, they should allow a much broader swath of opinion. Despite it's far left roots, Huffpo does provide a pretty wide range of views.

DUQ said...

Rush talked about this briefly today, by the way. His take was that this is AOL being part of the lib media and spending tons of money to try to prove that liberalism is alive and well and what everyone wants. After all, the world must want it, if we're spending this kind of money on it!

I think that's going a bit far, but who knows.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, That's true. We don't flock. But I'm not sure this is a flock problem. I think the problem is that no conservatives are offering this kind of site.

In other words, if we had a conservative HuffPo, and they offered a healthy sports section, would conservatives stick with that or would they still run off to CNN or ESPN to get their sports? I think conservatives would stick around for the sports news if the section was good enough. I don't think we're mentally opposed to the idea -- I just think conservatives haven't thought about it because we disconnect politics from everything else.

Moreover, I suspect that conservatives would love to get all their news from a conservative site because most of the conservatives I know are sick of being bombarded with liberal messages even at places like ESPN. FOX has proven that. So if the sports or film or business sections of this website at least matched what other news places offered (which wouldn't be that hard), then I think you could literally monopolize the conservative public for all of their news.

And more importantly, if these sections were good enough, you would draw nonconservatives or apolitical types, who might then stick around for the conservative aspects and might be swayed to the cause.

I see that as a double benefit -- you could pull conservatives away from places they current have no choice but to visit if they want the news, and you could pull in others who might eventually wake up to their inner conservative!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I agree completely. I think conservatives were slower to adapt to the internet, but they are catching up fast. And I am optimistic that we will develop our own version of things like Huffpo, we're just not there yet -- and I give the reasons I think that's the case above. I don't think it's hopeless by any stretch, I think it's just a matter of time before someone does it right.

I also get a kick out of the Huffers being so shocked that their playground is actually corporatist! LOL! It's not like the signs weren't there when they started hiring Washington insiders to join them.

Even funnier, I understand their chief web designer has left to manage the evil Glen Beck's new website. That's shocked them all as well. It's a sad day in Mudville indeed!

Ed said...

Great discussion! This is one thing I love about conservatives, everybody thinks! I like the idea of a single front page, though I would still visit multiple sites. Also, this may make me unpopular, but I'm disappointed in Big Hollywood and the rest. I keep waiting for them to "take the next step," but they never do. I also don't like that Rush puts most of his website behind a pay wall. I will not pay for internet content.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Another problem that needs to be addressed at big conservative sites is accessability.
Access for dial up and mobile too.
It can be done.

Big Hollywood used to be easy to comment on. Now it's not.
I can't even register at Hot Air, let alone comment.

I realize this would mean more moderators to weed out the crazies but these sites won't grow if they are too difficult to get into or comment on.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, That's all the more reason to have a single point of entry. In fact, even beyond your point about conservatives working, the internet has shown that people just don't give websites a lot of time to win them over. People make very fast decisions -- just as fast as they make in stores where consumers are giving fractions of seconds to each product. That's why it makes so much sense to have a single front page where people can see the whole variety of offerings at once, and then they can delve deeper into the issues they want. Time is money.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree. It's the "the first place all conservatives turn each day" type site that we are missing -- the place that gives you a round of up everything important before you move on to pick the issues that interest you.

And I agree about Fox News, as I think I've said somewhere in the comments. I generally like what they've done, BUT they are handicapped by the idea of being fair and balanced and their editorial content is firmly under the control of their stars, who are all neoCons. Fox needs to expand to add more religious conservatives, libertarian conservatives, etc.

patti said...

i haven't read thru the comments, so forgive me if i repeat some thoughts, but really, folks were surprised by this? while i'm loving the implosion over there, it didn't make me bat an eye when i saw the news. it's ho-hum all the way.

but again, loving all the wailing and gnashing of libbie teefs!

AndrewPrice said...

USS Ben, "Speak power to truth!" That's brilliant! I love that. It's also very accurate.

I think you're right that the only way the left will survive is through rich benefactors because the public doesn't buy what they are selling and their followers don't have any money. I think they believed they had that in Huffington because she was a rich conservative who had an epiphany and suddenly became this leftist icon. I think they assumed she was an ideologue and thus would never abandon them for more fame, money or power. But in the end, she's an opportunist who happily did so.

I think your mention of Slate is a good analogy. Slate was the original website to try to be openly left while pretending they weren't really being political -- an impossible bit of doublespeak. I think Huffpo is aiming to drift into that market, where they acknowledge being leftists but claim they aren't really being political, so everyone should listen to what they say. . . because they're not "really" being political.

I don't think that will work, as evidenced by Slates repeated danced with failure recently. But you never know. And you never know how nibble Huffington will be? If she finds that the new plan isn't working, will she abandon it or will she stick with it to prove a point?

AndrewPrice said...

USS Ben, I agree that conservatives will never accept being centralized, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a single place where conservatives stop first on their daily travels.

It's the difference between creating a market place where everyone can go to buy and sell versus telling people what they can buy and sell. I'm talking about creating a website with a very broad swath of conservative content, with contributors from all over the conservative spectrum with limited editorial involvement. I'm definitely not talking about creating a single website to decide what is conservative -- that would fail right away.

I think, if you could create a site that looked and felt like a news site, presented actual news and other features, and then gave prominent conservatives from all walks of conservatism a place where they could come speak their minds, I think that would be a highly valuable and influential site. And I think that would easily eclipse the much narrower sites we have today, which are often premised on a single celebrity conservative or a single view point or single issue.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

What do you think of Newmax?

It is conservative.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben! I think you're right about the Daily Caller -- the overall concept for the web design is a step in the right direction, but the problem is that they've taken the position of wanting to be the voice of "moderatism." So they aren't going to attract many conservatives and there isn't a lot of reason for people to go there.

In terms of the Bigs, I agree that fans of those people might come read what they wrote, but I'm talking about something bigger. I'm talking about things that would regularly bring people who aren't out there looking for conservative blogs. For example, if you look at Big Hollywood, they should be offering a lot more film reviews, book reviews, maybe having a technical section where people could talk about how to make film or film art, etc. Things like that.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I don't think that's right. I don think AOL is failing as a company -- they certainly have lost almost everything they had in the way of influence. I think this is an attempt by them to buy a lifeline. I think they are hoping that by slapping "AOL" in the corner of HuffPo, they can suddenly become hip and relevant and begin producing a revenue stream again. In other words, I don't think ideology is AOL's concern so much as becoming a player relevant again.

What will be interesting will be seeing what they try to make this pay off.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, It is a great discussion, our readers always bring great ideas to the table!

I won't pay for content either. Right now a lot of news sites are trying to do that, but I think they'll fail eventually.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

The Breitbart Bigs and Breitbart.tv are set up as blogs like this one. Where some one writes an article. People read it and then comment. I don't spend as much time there as I used to because there are so many more to look at and read.

There is also CNS News.com. It is also conservative.

The only complaint I could see you having is that both of them don't have a sports section.

I have been to these sites, but they really don't interest me. I prefer sites that are set up like this one or like Breitbart's.

AndrewPrice said...

USS Ben, I think access and moderation are key. Access needs to be really easy or people won't bother. But a lot of sites want to force people to create accounts, etc., because that helps them with marketing or whatever. I think that's a mistake. The better plan is to offer incentives for people to sign up, like "badges" which are very popular on the net. HuffPo actually does that. And then just assume that the people who don't sign up aren't interested.

Moderation is the other key. You can't let people attack other people in the comments or say hateful things about the writers -- that's destroyed thousands of websites. At the same time, you need to be careful not to let the lunatics run away with a place. I think BH made a mistake like that around the time the abortion doctor was shot in Kansas. They were letting some really nasty bullying go on and they lost a lot of long time commenters at that point. Yet, those are the people who keep sites alive and vibrant.

But you also can't be so oppressive with the moderation that people feel like they can't express legitimate disagreement.

It's a difficult balancing act, but it's critical.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, I think they were genuinely shocked because they thought Huffington was an ideologue. I don't think they ever considered the possibility that she would see Huffpo to a corporation.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I think Newsmax is good site and I think they've got a really good start going. Unfortunately, they haven't caught on very widely. I don't know if it's lack of publicity or the name doesn't distinguish it from other news sites? Maybe it's just that they don't bill themselves as a conservative site? I'm not sure.

But looking just at content, I think they have a very good site that could well become a HuffPo type site if they can add a spark.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, CNS feels a lot to me like a smaller version of Drudge. It doesn't feel like a place where you would be particularly interested any content they offered themselves.

You're right about the Bigs being set up as blogs. And while I do like a lot of blogs, it's pretty clear that blogging has serious limits that prevent blogs from gaining widespread influence.

That's why I'm talking about creating a site for conservatives to visit that opens with news, analysis, etc. and basically folds the blog content into an editorial format. That's what HuffPo did so effectively -- they basically mimicked newspapers online, which gives it a more professional and therefore trustworthy feel (at least if you are disposed to believe their side of the spectrum).

Anonymous said...

Ben, Big Hollywood has been having a lot of technical issues lately. I don't know what the problem is; some have said they're in the middle of some serious updates, but I haven't seen anything that would bear that out. Honestly, it's not what it used to be--the commenting's slowed down a bit and the conversations/topics are hit-or-miss. I still hang around there pretty often, but the talk's better here (shout out!) and I don't have enough time for both places.

Andrew, point taken. I understand the need you're talking about--something that would balance news and opinion for conservatives. I guess I'm not as worried about it as you are, though. That is, I do think what you're talking about is important, I just think we're in a far better position than you seem to. Even leaving out Fox News and talk radio, blogs like this one have exploded so much in the past few years I think we're already winning the battle of ideas--obviously, our ideas are superior, but we have such fast access to so much information, it's a lot easier now to just defeat liberals on the spot. And even if we don't win them or moderates over, we do a lot to solidify our own ranks ideologically.

(continued)

T_Rav said...

As an example, look at the speech Sarah Palin made in the wake of the Tucson shootings. Now, I have no idea whether she'll run for President or not, and I'm not going to argue for or against that. But I would say that she greatly increased her chances of winning the primary with that speech, should she decide to run. The media's meme, of course, is that it was an awful speech, but we know better, because we actually saw the video and transcript of her speaking and then were able to blow up the whole "blood libel" thing so quickly it never really gained traction. They had to drop it and start pretending she never spoke at all. The grassroots Republicans will remember all this--a lot of vehemently anti-Palin bloggers I've seen were highly impressed--and will have that much more support for her if she runs. Thanks to the rapid communication among conservative activists, Palin further elevated her standing among the party's core.

I do agree that what we have now isn't quite enough; we do have to find a more efficient way of getting our message into the mainstream, which requires combating the MSM on their own turf. How we do that, I don't know. Thoughts?

T_Rav said...

P.S., that's me with the Anonymous comment that continues on. I hit the wrong button :-)

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, On your points.... thanks for the shout out! Woo hoo!

But I do agree, if I do say so myself. I really enjoy our community here and I think we get into very good and very interesting conversation. It's the rare day where someone doesn't bring up something really interesting that I know I hadn't thought about. :-)

On our position vis-à-vis liberals, I agree that we're in a better position, but we should always be striving to improve. Right now I would say that we have a pretty good infrastructure in place to share views among the most active conservatives. But what we need to do better is to bring in the 15-30% of the population that have conservative beliefs but don't call themselves conservatives. I think something like a conservative Huffpo as I describe would go a long way to helping that because you don't need to be a dedicated conservative to want to go there.

Even among conservatives, I know many who never venture to conservative blogs. They'll go to Fox because it's a news site (or Drudge) but they never go deeper than that. I think a Fox-like site would be very helpful in bringing those people further into the movement and getting them involved.

(continued)

AndrewPrice said...

(continued)
In terms of BH, a lot of us were there almost from the beginning. I know I arrived a couple weeks after it started and I think Bev and Lawhawk did too. And it's had its ups and downs. They had some severe tech issues at one point that almost drove people away, but they got over that -- I haven't had problems lately, but I see comments about problems. (FYI, we tried IntenseDebate here and had to drop it because of massive problems.)

But I think three things have hurt BH.

First, like I say above, at the time of the abortion doctor shooting (can't think of his name), there was some real nastiness going on in the comments. Not only were people posting things like "burn in hell" and "one down four to go," but they were attacking people who disagreed. Even one of the contributors was in the comments calling people "pussies" for saying that people needed to calm down.

In my opinion, it was a big mistake for BH not to step in at that point and to protect the very collegial atmosphere they had created. I watched many of the best people (the people who drove the comments and really raised the level of the debate) leave because they didn't like the tone of what was going on and they didn't like the fact that you had to toe the line or be attacked. Unfortunately, BH did nothing and a much more adversarial atmosphere took over and the people who left never came back.

(continued)

AndrewPrice said...

(continued)
Secondly, they've made a mistake by never stepping up their game. For example, I've seen no innovation by them in two years now -- what you see now is exactly what they did from day one. They should have been constantly tweaking and improving. . . we have and we don't even have a tech team, we just kind of stumble through it.

Ironically, we created this place because of the lack of innovation. We wanted somewhere that we could talk about issues they didn't cover without feeling like we were stealing threads. It wasn't until after we built this place and started putting up our own open threads that BH finally started doing their own open threads -- even though people constantly mentioned the desire to have open threads in the comments.

Further, we've done more with polls than they have, we've done more with liveblogging of events, etc. I'm not saying we're great, but what I am saying is that if a couple people with ZERO tech skills can come up with these ideas and can do these things, BH should be more than capable of adding these kinds of things to their repertoire.

By not doing these things, it makes it feel like BH has peaked and you know nothing better is coming. Unfortunately, in this business of selling ideas, it's "improve or be left behind."

Finally, while BH started as a very interactive experience, their contributors slowly stopped participating in the comments. When I first got there, you could always chat with Nolte or Ernie or Stage or whoever. But these days, they seem to rarely respond to comments. The difference, I think, is that early on, it felt like a real community where everyone knew everyone. But now it's much less personal, with contributors who fire off articles and then disappear and commenters who seem more interested in making their own posts than in talking to people. In other words, it's not nearly as inviting as it used to be.


I think those are serious mistakes that have cost them. I still go there almost every day, but not nearly as much as I used to, and I can name dozens of really good people who just don't go there are all anymore.

(Don't get me wrong, I do like the place, I just don't think it's running anywhere near what it's potential was.)

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew, I think you hit on something about BH. For one, in the beginning is was a small, but burgeoning community. The was a lot of humor in the articles and the comments were most of all "collegial" and laugh out loud funny sometimes. The more Breitbart has became more outspoken, the less civil the conversation has become and certainly less humorous. It lost what I really liked in the beginning - actually being able to have a civil exchange of ideas length on topic without the vitriol. And trust me, you NEVER want to have a discussion on abortion rights on the Bigs. Scary.

HuffPo is kind of the same. It's possible, but rare to have civil exchange. Though, okay, I have to admit - sometimes it's fun to bait them with some completely incendiary remark...

So when are we starting our new website? Can I be the gossip columnist or restaurant critic? I could cover theatre too....

FYI - Keith Olbermann has signed up with Algore's Current TV. He's going to have a one hour show and be the "news coordinator" or something like that...at this point they have about 24K viewers on a good day...

Tennessee Jed said...

The best people from early BH days are now over here. I only have so much time to read and comment and the level of discourse is higher over here. Recently, I've tried going back over there. It feels like it's been co-opted.

I'm an old guy. Had never commented before BH. This is a nice family atmosphere. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I agree, it was a very different site early on -- much lighter, more good natured, more of a community and you could always speak your mind and debate anything. In fact, there were some really good debates around that time.

Today, it's a LOT less tolerant place and there are topics you better not bring up unless you're going to toe the party line to the letter: abortion is one of those, Palin is another. People also don't seem very interested in debating over there, just posting their own comment and moving on.

It's really got a very different feel to it today compared to what it used to have.


I've seen some of the fun at HuffPo. Those people are insane and they absolutely will not tolerate different views.


Our new website will be ready once I win the lottery and we can afford to make the changes! So get ready . . . I'm feeling lucky about this week's numbers! ;-)


I was thinking about writing about the Olbermann thing, except I'm not sure I can find enough info to make more than a sentence out of it. LOL!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

T-Rav and Andrew:

Good points. I concur about the thred hijacking by some radicals, and I notice no matter what blog I visit there are always a few like that, but some blog owners do step in to put a stop to it and I don't think it's an infringement of free speech to do so.

Whether these radical commenters (who seem to have unlimited time to hijack threads and discourage others from commenting) are rightwing radicals or leftwing loons trying to create chaos and smear the site in particular or conservatives in general is difficult to say.

I know I have read some leftwing blogs such as Mediamatters, Dkos, etc., that actually encourage their readers to do this (also in person at rallioes and other political events) and then try to cover it up.

I'm not saying there ain't rightwing radicals, because there is, but I don't think we have as many as the left does (just read the comments at a leftwing site and there's really no comparison).

Regardless, site owners should put a stop to trolls that do this if they wanna stay relevant and have a chance to grow and encourage more participation.

I also believe that we who comment must try to remember we are representing conservative principles and act accordingly.
Certainly it's okay to be snarky and have some innertainment with trolls at times...no problems there, especially with the witty commenters here. :^)

What I'm talking about is when someone, say a "moderate" who is new or perhaps a guest blogger at BH that's part lefty but respectively tries to engage in honest discussion is swarmed by very impolite commenters.

Hey, I've been guilty of that behavior myself, sorry to say, and I think it's because we as conservatives have dealt with sucker punches and faux conservatives so often it gets difficult to discern the well meaning (if misguided) commenters and guest bloggers.

And it makes us look bad to the casual visitors who rarely comment or never comment.

It can be frustrating, but it becomes easier if we don't let our emotions control the conversation (and our minds).

It's also frustrating when an otherwise reasonable commenter loses control over certain issues (such as abortion).

Yes, abortion is wrong and I personally think it's evil to take an innocent life but murder is also wrong.
Praising or cheering the murder of abortion doctors hurts conservatives a lot, and while I admit I feel no sympathy when an abortionist is murdered I also don't feel good about when they are murdered.

Murder and that kind of behavior will never stop abortions and only hurts the cause of us pro lifers.

I believe some of the folks get carried away emotionally when they make those type of comments and hopefully don't mean everything they say.
Fellow commenters and blog owners (and moderators for big sites) should try to put a stop to that sort of atmosphere and encourage commenters to take a breath before they write something they may regret, or simply moderate those hot issue threads (abortion being only one example).

I know some blogs have a complete ban on hot issues like abortion for the reasons i mentioned but I believe that most conservatives can have these discussions without getting out of hand if the blog owners and fellow commenters make it clear what the boundaries are and we do need some boundaries to prevent the blog anarchists from destroying everything.

It's clear here, and I appreciate the atmosphere here because it encourages thoughtfull discussions without the bedlam and mayhem other blogs suffer from. :^)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Thanks! I appreciate that!

I think we did get a lot of the best early BH people over here and they continue to make great comments and contribute to a great environment. I'm very happy with the way things have gone over here.

I try to go to BH a couple times a week and I agree that it has a very different feel to it than it use to.


(P.S. Before BH, I'd never participated on a political website either.)

AndrewPrice said...

USS Ben, I agree on all points.

1. There are indeed people who try to hurt websites for political reasons, and I think there are a lot more of them on the left than the right -- some progressive groups do train people to disrupt "enemy" websites.

Of course, there are also regular trolls who do it just because it makes them feel powerful to upset people. And there are people who aren't really trolls, but sometimes go over the top -- and admittedly, not everyone is perfectly eloquent, so often this is just a failure of ability to express oneself.

At BH, the specific abortion issue I mention was not a matter of trolls, but of people who were a little fringe/hot-headed to begin with. One or two of them basically said some very nasty things, BH did not delete it or moderate it, soon they said more, then others joined them and soon you had an e-mob, who was just ripping into anyone who wasn't pure enough for them on the issue.

What I noticed at the time, and what BH failed to see, was not that a flame war had erupted -- because it hadn't, but that people started disappearing. And it wasn't just pro-abortion people, it was genuine pro-lifers who just didn't like being attacked for not supporting the shooting or who felt the rhetoric had just gone too far. . . they didn't like the change in tone. And those people never did go back.

(continued)

AndrewPrice said...

(continued)
2. Moderation is a very difficult issue, but it needs to be done. We have been lucky that we've had few trolls here. Some we've deleted when they start off with swearing or posting just vile/hateful things. Others we let post and just try to deal with them. We like to think our audience is smart enough to see through these people, so we only censor them when they are acting in an uncivil manner.


3. In terms of making conservatives look bad, I agree completely. We need to remember that conservatives are judged by the actions of all of us.

And I've seen exactly what your talking about when someone who is not a troll, but who has a different viewpoint, shows up at a website and people jump on them and insult them because they disagree. That's bad for all concerned and it makes us look bad. Those are the very people we should be talking to because they have come to listen and to discuss.

ScottDS said...

So the cat is out of the bag. Having had private conversations about BH with Andrew and Bev, and having been a BH commenter since day 1 (and a follower of Nolte's work since 2006), I feel qualified to talk about this.

First, I want to promote another conservative/libertarian film website: Libertas. Nolte used to review films for them before parting ways and starting his own site (Dirty Harry's Place) and eventually joining the Breitbart empire. Libertas went offline for a couple of years only to reappear last year. I truly feel they're doing the trench work that BH is ignoring: attending film festivals, promoting new creative voices, etc.

As for BH, I agree with everything written so far but I also have some other problems with the site, including:

-guilt by association (sorry but not all of Hollywood supports Roman Polanski; it's a small handful of famous names and a ton of Eurotrash journalists and critics)

-making mountains out of molehills (for example, a film that features a gay couple isn't always part of the "gay agenda")

-repetition (Brad Pitt isn't a fan of religion; did we need five articles on the subject?)

-misplacing blame (just because Matt Damon says some stupid things in public, it doesn't mean every film he makes for the rest of his life is gonna be a sucker punch; and if he does star in a sucker punch film, he isn't necessarily responsible for the offending content, etc.) I could've phrased this better!

-IMHO, I believe some of the BH bloggers truly have no business writing about film (and a few shouldn't be writing at all... I won't mention any names but one rhymes with Schmictoria Schmackson) :-)

-too many commenters chime in with, "So and so's in the film?! Pass!" and offer nothing of substance... Believe me, I'm sympathetic; but a commenter once mentioned that they were continuing to boycott Kevin Costner even after he unveiled his cool oil-cleaning invention... when asked why they were boycotting Costner ("What did he say?"), this person couldn't even remember! Also: too many people suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome (I believe it exists, just like it did for Bush and does for Palin)

-if you say something remotely negative about Palin, prepare for the thumbing down of your life!!!

-there's an obvious lack of educational articles: film school, financing, writing (where did Russ Dvonch go?), editing, promotion, advertising, etc. They are in 24/7 culture warrior mode but are offering no alternatives; only nitpicking and trivial BS

-they should change the name to Big Culture since film is only part of what they do: the music industry is not Hollywood. Broadway is not Hollywood, stand-up comedy is not Hollywood, etc. (and, yes, I know there's plenty of synergy but I think my thesis is sound)

ScottDS said...

I don't have much to add to the original article since I don't visit HuffPo or many other political sites at all. (I visit BH, a couple other conservative sites, The Daily Beast, and Andrew Sullivan.)

Have you checked out The Atlantic Wire? Politically, it's all over the place but I think it might be an example of what you're talking about.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Hmmm. Let me say up front that I do like Big Hollywood and I think they've done something valuable. I do however, share your criticisms to a large degree -- and these go beyond just BH to many sites (left and right).

1. Guilt by association, we've talked about that before and I am not a fan of guilt by association or group punishment. I will however say that Hollywood more than any other place does encourage groupthink and the view that it engages in groupthink. So when a guy gets up for an award show and says "Republicans is Satan" and everyone in the audience applauds like they just saw the greatest concert ever, they bear the responsibility for encouraging people to continue that association.

2. Mountains out of molehills, yep. There is a lot of that. Also, I would add that a lot of the criticism is unfocused. You see this particularly when people get into the "favorite conservative" film question and it becomes clear that they don't have a clue what makes a film conservative.

3. Yes, the repetition is a problem, BUT that's a problem with the blogging model -- everyone has to look for stories so they tend to grab whatever is the biggest thing at the moment. I think this would be cured with your later point that BH should be doing "educational" articles. To me, that's the biggest disappointment about BH, that they never developed that aspect of their site. That's what I'm talking about above, where I say that conservatives need to do things other than just politics at conservative websites.

4. Alternative offerings, I couldn't agree more. That's a general criticism I have with conservatives and culture generally. They criticize, they nit-pick but they don't offer an alternative except nostalgia.... "why don't they make movies like Casablanca anymore..." Until conservatives start offering high quality alternatives they won't win the culture war.

(continued)

AndrewPrice said...

(continued)
5. I disagree on your misplaced blame point. If Matt Damon alienates people, then they are perfectly within their rights to choose to reject his films. And if someone hires him, they are taking the risk that they have bear the consequences as well. I have no sympathy for that.

BUT, I will agree that conservatives are too quick to attack things they know nothing about. They will hear from someone that something is anti-American (or whatever) and they will run with it without determining if it's true.

In fact, that goes into your other point about people who love to parade their ignorance. I can't stand the comments that are basically, "I ain't never see this but I know it's the worst thing on the planet." That's not nobility, that's ignorance and should be a badge of shame, not a badge of honor.

6. A lot of people who write for a living have no business writing.

7. Yes, the derangement syndromes exist and I try to fight those where I can, but there isn't much you can do about them except try to not trigger them.

8. I'm not worried about the name because Hollywood has become synonymous with American culture.

ScottDS said...

Don't get me wrong... I enjoy the site as well, especially when Nolte shows his true film geek colors, not to mention other fun articles (Leo Grin's retrospectives, for instance).

I also realize some of what I mentioned is simply part of the blogging experience (and human nature in general) and there's nothing we can do about that.

I understand and sympathize re: my Damon example but allow me to use another example. Today, there was an article about the anti-Christian content in Simon Pegg's new film (which he also co-wrote). Fast forward to next year when the new Star Trek film comes out and I guarantee someone is gonna chime in with, "I'll go see it but Simon Pegg better not play Scotty as a crazy atheist who likes to offend Christians." And I'll chime in with, "He didn't write the film; he's just playing a character! One movie isn't gonna dictate everything else he does!"

But again, I'm sympathetic and I know we've talked about it before.

Good luck on your Lotto numbers this week. I look forward to writing for PricePost.com. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Ironically, Nolte and I seem to disagree on just about every film. LOL! But I agree, they are best when they get back to their roots and they talk about films, or actors or their experiences rather than politics.

I get your point about the Simon Pegg example, but again, everyone knows the risks when they open their mouths. If I work for Coke and I go around using the N-word at a company picnic, I will bear the consequences. And if my manager ignores that, so will the manager. Hollywood works the same way, and we shouldn't give them a pass anymore than we give anyone else a pass.

Moreover, apart from a very small group of people (who probably don't see films anyway), it takes more than one or two comments before these actors earn the reputations that get the public blacklisting them. And by that time, they've usually given a lot of reason for people to be upset.

My point is that I think the issue is overblown because it's rare that any sizeable chunk of the public blacklists anyone, and by the time they do, the actor has usually earned it.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I have to say I agree with most of your analysis of BH.

When the site first popped up on my radar a couple years ago, I was still stewing over Obama's election and the adulation everywhere. I stumbled across BH, found you, Hawk, Bev, and the rest tearing him and his lackeys apart, and was hooked. I couldn't always find time to view and chime in, but when I did, I found some hilarious and thought-provoking conversations going. BH made me into a blogosphere addict, and for that I will always be grateful. (By the way, really--you never did any political writing before? I never would have guessed.)

I guess I didn't really notice the changes until after they had happened, but the past year did see a definite falling off in quality. There's been a pretty good team for a while: EdSki, dcase, Darkwolf, several others, and myself picked up a lot of the slack. But some of them have started to leave, too. Scott and the others made a lot of good points: it's not just that IntenseDebate is such a wretched system (although that doesn't help); the tone does get really histrionic at times. I fully agree with the people who say that Obama is a socialist and has a highly racialist method of thinking, but it gets repetitive and melodramatic after a while. If you're going to say that, you should make the intellectual argument for it. Too many don't. Likewise, we don't need 18 posts a month concerning why Rosie O'Donnell is such a horrible person. Frankly, we didn't even need ONE, but that should have been the maximum.

T_Rav said...

(continued)

In all honesty, I think this site is optimal in a lot of respects. People more or less stay on topic, the conversation's more laid-back, the trolls are kept to a minimum, etc. I would like to see BH follow some of these same guidelines, but I suspect that Breitbart, assuming he has some overall control over the sites, is using most of his resources on BG and BJ, which can afford to be entirely politics-oriented and get a lot more traffic. As the oldest of them all, BH gets left to muddle through, which I think it will continue to do, but not with the same spirit of the early months.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Thanks! We've try to keep things a little calmer here by avoiding invective and hyperbole because we've always viewed our goal as discussing issues rather than just advocating, and we want to hear what everyone has to say. We also like to inject a lot of humor to keep the atmosphere light. Who wants to go to a blog when all they're going to see day after day is "the world is coming to an end!!"

In terms of prior writing, nope -- no political writing and I didn't even comment at political websites. I paid a lot of attention to politics and discussed it with friends, but BH was the first place I actually commented. But keep in mind that as a litigator, I research, write and argue for a living. So the principle is kind of the same.

You may be right about Breitbart shifting his resources to Big Gov. and Big Jour., they do seem to be more active in terms of getting a high quality of work product.

Still, I don't think BH is beyond repair -- not at all. But if I were running the show, I would try to implement more of the ideas we've talked about here to try to attract a broader audience and make it a friendlier environment again. I really do think the idea is a brilliant one, it's just not hitting on all cylinders.

And I totally agree with you about the Obama-socialist thing. Whether you believe he's a socialist or a racialist or not, it gets really hard for people to take you seriously if that's all you keep saying. For one thing, if they don't share that view, then they stop listening. For another, even if they do share that view, it gets pretty dull to just say the same thing over and over.

When I was in law school, you had people on the right saying "the market will solve this problem" and people on the left saying "do what's fair." Neither position really explained much of anything, but this eventually became all either side would say. And while ultimately, these may be meaningful expressions, they became more of a punchline than an analysis because they were used so constantly and so mindlessly. I see the "he's a socialist" macro the same way.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Speaking of catchy phrases, perhaps it would be fun to help Ms. Huffington find a better catch phrase than "beyond left and right."


You know, in the spirit of civility and all.

Here's my first suggestion.
Hows about "beyond stupid)

Joel Farnham said...

One thing I noticed here as opposed to BH and the others. There isn't a pile-on going on. It could be a function of the intense debate, so I might be remiss in my observations.

We had a reader here the other day on my book review. He took exception to the book. I talked to him, but I also noticed a lack of piling on. I am not complaining at all. What I am saying is that we allowed him the chance to make his case.

This is also the reason why I come here. People do get heard. At BH now, you can't be heard anymore. Too much noise.

BH started out as a catch-all for Breitbart. Anything and everything that could possibly be associated with "Entertainment" was included. (I say "Entertainment" instead of "Hollywood" because if all the site worked on is Hollywood it would have been too constraining.) Breitbart expanded his realm to newer sites. BH got left in the dirt.

I left before Tillman was murdered. I left because it got too noisy in have too many comments. I stay here because I can be assured to have at least one response. As long as I am polite, the response will be in kind. That and the intelligent responses I do get.

Cont.

Joel Farnham said...

Cont..

Now what I am disappointed in Breitbart is the sameness of his BIGs. The difference is just the "skins" or backgrounds you see. Each one of them should be unique. They aren't.

Big Government should at least carry the SOTU address live. Maybe even carry live, Congress on an important vote. Big Hollywood should carry live the Academy Awards, but not carry the SOTU. (Yes, I know the awards are irritating to say the least, but it would go down so much better with a little snark added.) Big Journalism shouldn't carry anything live.

You get my drift. All of them should be as unique as a fingerprint.

The moderators should be live ones, not computerized. Sometimes a comment is removed because it gets too many replies. It has become very bland there.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Joel:

Excellent observation!
I think all the regular commenters here realize that we can't reason a troll out of a position he never reasoned himself into.

That became readily apparent when the troll refused to answer your questions yet demanded answers to his.

And even when you did answer his it was never enough. No quantity of scientific "peer reviewed" papers will ever get someone in that position to change their mind or to see the truth because their faith in their beliefs (pseudo-religion really) are so strong it's impervious to facts and truth.

However, that particular troll was nominally polite in an obnoxious way but never got too nasty about it. He was in severe need of seeing irony dogs though.

You did a stellar job calmly showing him what he refused to see. :^)

Joel Farnham said...

Thanks Ben. Oh, I was tempted to slam him hard. You should see what I erased. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

USS Ben, I saw an article today in the Washington Post, which said that Huffington used the exact same line when she left the right and moved to the left. They think it's her way of saying "I'm done with the current crop." They're very convinced she's selling the left out.

That said, I do like "beyond stupid." LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I agree. When we started at BH, you always felt that people read your comments -- even the contributors, because they would dive in and speak to people. And you could get these interesting conversations going. But these days, it feels like some huge board where you just post a comment and no one cares.

We make sure here to read every comment made and try to respond to them all, because if people take the time to comment, they deserve to be heard. That takes a lot of time (as you saw for yourself), but I can't see running a blog and not reading what people say and responding -- that just doesn't seem right to me.

In terms of piling on, I agree. When someone says "the wrong thing" at BH, dozens of people jump on them in a nasty way and usually with very similar comments. That doesn't invite debate. Here, we try to let people speak and we've found that people will watch and will only jump in when they have something helpful to add -- which I think gives us a much more open atmosphere. (Admittedly, I have jumped on a couple trolls, but they were being deceitful by pretending to be multiple people, and I don't tolerate that.)

Tillman, that was his name -- I couldn't think of it.

In terms of the sameness, I agree. Theoretically, the Bigs are handling very different things, and they should be working to cover everything within their purview really well. Instead, they kind of blur together and don't really give anything a lot of depth.

I think your example is a really good one of where they are falling down. They should have had a live blog for the awards shows at BH, and a live blog for the SOTU at BG. But they didn't. They should make those into places you want to be when these kinds of big events come up, but instead they just react with a few articles a day or two later. We found, for example, that people love the open threads we do during the speeches and the such. They should at least be doing that.

Moreover, given their resources (they have full time people managing the place and a tech team), they should be doing a lot of innovating and adding of features. But I feel that we've actually got more things going on here, and we're just a couple of un-tech-savvy part timers fumbling around in the dark. I think that's disappointing.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel and Ben, I agree, Joel did an excellent job of responding to that guy. And since he was polite, he's a good example of the kind of people we let have their say. If he's polite and he wants to say something on point, he's welcome to. In fact, I'd love to attract some liberals to the site -- at least reasonable liberals, not whackos.

And if people want to argue with him, that's acceptable too as long as people stay nice. I think overall, that's great for everyone to get to see the debate.

And I think that's a heck of a lot better than seeing 20 people jump on the guy and tell him to get lost.

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