Tuesday, March 08, 2005
But success bred change. Along has come a new group of bloggers who aren’t mere “citizens” at all. On the left side, some of these became deeply enmeshed with political parties, “527s,” and campaign advocacy groups -- and are now a new generation of no-holds-barred partisans and major party fund-raisers, the liberal equivalent of George W. Bush’s “Rangers” and “Pioneers.” On the right, a number of these bloggers were already political operatives or worked at long-standing movement institutions before taking up residence online. They are, at best, the intellectual heirs of L. Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center and Reed Irvine, who founded the ultraconservative, media-hounding nonprofit organization Accuracy In Media (AIM) in 1969 as part of the first generation of post–Barry Goldwater right-wing institutions. At worst, they're the protégés of conservative fund-raiser Richard Viguerie and dirty-tricks master Morton Blackwell, who has tutored conservative activists since 1965, most recently mocking John Kerry at the Republican national convention by distributing Band-Aids with purple hearts on them.
Which brings us back to Jordan. He was brought down not by outraged citizen-bloggers but by a mix of GOP operatives and military conservatives. Easongate.com, the blog that served as the clearinghouse for the attack on CNN, was helped along by Virginia-based Republican operative Mike Krempasky. From May 1999 through August 2003, Krempasky worked for Blackwell as the graduate development director of the Leadership Institute, an Arlington, Virginia–based school for conservative leaders founded by Blackwell in 1979. The institute is the organization that had provided “Gannon” with his sole media credential before he became a White House correspondent. It also now operates “Internet Activist Schools” designed to teach conservatives how to engage in “guerilla Internet activism.”
Indeed, Krempasky could be found teaching this Internet activism course one recent February weekend to about 30 young conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. “He advocated that people write from their experience -- and not necessarily as conservatives,” a Democratic consultant who attended the seminar incognito told me. For example, Krempasky told “a conservative firefighter” that he should write about firefighting because that would be of interest to readers. Using that angle, he could build an audience. And if push ever came to shove, he could respond to an online dogfight from the unassailable position of being a firefighter -- and not as just another conservative ideologue. Krempasky then offered to help all the attendees set up their own blogs. “We’re definitely in serious trouble,” said the Democratic attendee.