Simon Owens: Many people claim that sports commentary and political discussions are very similar in nature. As someone who dives into both, what is your opinion on this?
Doug Mataconis: I hadn’t thought of this before, but I suppose there is a point to it. The one thing that sports related blogging and political blogging seem to have in common is that they are usually invested with alot of passion. Just as there are conservative, liberal, and libertarian blogs, the best sports bloggers tend to be focused on one particular team. My sports blogging, for example, tends to be limited to teams I support, which is why baseball season brought alot of posts about the Yankees and football season brought alot of posts about the Ohio State Buckeyes.
SO: Do you think political blogs are gaining in power? Will they have the power and clout as major media outlets like radio and television?
DM: I think that political blogs are definitely gaining in prominence, and are being noticed more by the mainstream media. For example, both The Washington Post and The New York Times now provide Technorati links to blogs that have commented on stories featured on their web sites. It may not seem to make sense since providing links to a blog post directs readers away from the newspaper’s web site, but I think that both the Post and (yes, even) the Times have come to recognize that what bloggers have known since the beginning — that linking to people who are discussing something you’re interested in or have written about makes your website more valuable to your readers. The “blogging phenomenon” is also being discussed on featured on most of the 24 hour cable news networks now as well. Part of this, I think, is because the major networks and newspapers are realizing that they stand to benefit far more from a cooperative relationship with the blogosphere than they would if they just pretended it didn’t exist, which is how the mainstream media reacted to them during the 2004 election.
Does this mean that blogs are gaining in power ? Perhaps. As Dan Rather and CBS News can attest, they are becoming an important part of the political process to the extent that a candidate who ignores the blogosphere does so at their own peril.
SO: Do you think that politics are getting more heated and dirty, or that it just seems this way?
DM: It just seems that way. Go back in history and look at the election of 1800 and the things that were being said about Thomas Jefferson, or the election of 1860 and the things that were being said about Abraham Lincoln. The headline 200 years ago was about a sitting Vice President (Aaron Burr) shoot a former Secretary of the Treasury (Alexander Hamilton) to death.
When people think of dirty politics today, whats the worst that they can come up with ? The Willie Horton ad from 1988 ? If anything, things have improved over the last two centuries.
SO: What are the five blogs everyone should be reading (besides your own)?
DM: First, there’s Vodkapundit. Of the A-list bloggers, Stephen Green is my personal favorite — perhaps its the fact that we seem to share similar tastes in food and drink. Whether he’s writing about the War on Terror or posting a Friday Recipe, he’s always an interesting, entertaining read. Next, and another daily read, is Hit & Run.This Reason magazine’s group blog and its sort of a libertarian version of NRO’s The Corner. Another blog I read on a daily basis is Eric’s Grumbles Before The Grave, which has a great daily mix of writing on topics ranging from politics to technology. Since I live in Virginia, I’ve been following a lot of Virginia-based blogs recently; the best among them in my opinion is Chad Dotson’s Commonwealth Conservative Finally, if you’ve never read The Unrepentant Individual. There are many other blogs I read on a daily basis and they’re all listed in my blogroll, but these are the top five.
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