Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Net Brutality

Allen West is a freshman congressman from Florida. He's a Tea Party darling who, among other noteworthy achievements, retired from the Army after taking a shot at an Iraqi civilian in order to intimidate him, compared President Obama to Hitler and encouraged people to arm themselves against the government, and named as his chief of staff a far-right talk radio host whose lunatic rhetoric was connected with a credible threat that led police to lock down every single school in Broward County, Florida last November.

In other words, Allen West is a real peach.

So maybe it's not surprising that he sees the AOL-Huffington Post deal as the end of all life as we know it.

From Media Matters:

"You look out there, you see that AOL has purchased the Huffington Post. Now all of a sudden a very far left liberal blogger such as Arianna Huffington has a huge influence in the Internet world," he said. We cannot allow ourselves to be suppressed. We cannot allow them to take over the Internet."

Three things: First of all, Arianna Huffington just sold her wholly independent, "very far left liberal" blog to the most conservative, milquetoast internet media conglomerate in America -- and pocketed $315 million dollars for herself and her partners in the process. If that doesn't win her some street cred from the big business-fellating crowd, what the hell will?

Second, is there anything more comical than listening to a right-wing blowhard feign victimization at the hands of the supposed liberal juggernaut bent on quashing his or her views? The constant cries of "we will not be silenced or suppressed" from a group whose media bullhorn is positively deafening these days is the stuff of cheap farce. That said, the conspiratorial "encroaching threat" argument is one that's been used by the most unimaginative political talking heads on the right -- to great effect -- for the past few years, so it's not surprising a hack like West would bust it out.

Third, you wanna know why the conservative movement is losing the internet? Media Matters goes on to nail it: What has the avowed right got in terms of new media that's truly groundbreaking? Sure, it owns the talk radio medium and it's correct when it boasts that as of now progressives don't stand a chance of breaking its stranglehold -- and there's even an argument to be made that the left can't put a dent in Fox News's adamantium hull on television. But the internet is an entirely different beast; it's a place where innovation and imagination triumph and it's one that lends itself to the non-linear way the left and center-left tend to think. In much the same way that conservatives look down their noses at any attempt by progressives to match the success of, say, Rush Limbaugh, progressives can rightly claim that their political adversaries haven't even come close to smacking it out of the park on the internet the way HuffPo has. Yeah, there's Drudge, but that's almost 15 years old and it's barely evolved since its inception -- and there's no way in hell a major corporation of any kind would get near Breitbart with a pair of rubber gloves and a cattle prod.

Don't like what you see when you "look out there," congressman?

Maybe you need to take a harder look at who your audience is.

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