Interview with ConWebWatch

Simon Owens: Which conservative bloggers do you think create the most spin? And if you had to pick a conservative blogger to label a worthy adversary, which blogger would that be?

Terry Krepel: I’m not a regular reader of the major conservative blogs — I get my fill of conservatism from the news sites I monitor (NewsMax, WorldNetDaily, MRC/CNSNews/NewsBusters). To me, the conservative blogosphere is such an echo chamber, with everyone posting minor variations of the same thing. Sites such as Power Line and Michelle Malkin are definitely the opinion leaders there — if something gets traction there, it moves up in the conservative news food chain. But they’re not breaking a lot of actual news there; it’s more minor scandals and controversies. To my knowledge, no advancing of stories like Jack Abramoff or Duke Cunningham occurred in the conservative blogosphere. That could all flip with a change in party power in 2008; if a Democrat wins the presidency and/or gains control of Congress, look for a Josh Marshall-type conservative news blog to surface; if it can stay away from mindless liberal-bashing, it could be successful.

SO: The rights of homosexuals keeps on making it to the forefront of political debate. Do you think the conservatives keep on pushing this issue because they know they have the majority behind them on this particular subject, thereby distracting America away from other issues they aren’t as strong on?

TK: I think it’s a red-meat issue for them, something they can wave as a
way to rally the troops when things are going badly (and even when they’re not) since a significant amount of their base believes in it. Then it gets taken to an extreme and they have to back off for a while. I think we’re starting to see that with “Brokeback Mountain” — the movie appears to be of sufficient overall quality to withstand the attacks over its subject matter, so now conservatives are looking for another target. Right now, it’s a movie called “End of the Spear,” a film about Christian missionaries which conservative Christians who’ve seen it are apparently enraptured with — until they find out that one of the missionaries was played by a gay man and a political activist to boot. I think that the continual demonization wears thin after a while, and that each time they lose a few people who eventually figure that real-life gay people usually don’t conform to the caricatures.

SO: In the 2004 election, we saw a significant shift of the African American vote to the Republican side. Do you think that if Hillary gets nominated that she will be able to shift those votes back to her side?

TK: I suspect that most of the votes she pulls back over will be because they have fond memories of her husband’s presidency. But we’re also way early in the process, and Hillary is not inevitable — she’s still a demon in conservatives’ eyes, even more so than Bill was, so they will continue to their attacks on her. But people may weary of those kinds of attacks as well, and Hillary will get in on a sympathy vote. Conservatives have been vicious enough for that to be a possibility; Ed Klein’s book turned out to be overly prurient and backfired.

SO: What are the five blogs everyone should be reading (besides your own)?

TK: Suburban Guerrilla (well-done liberal rants by an ex-journalist)

World O’Crap (hilarious deconstructions of the right wing)

Talking Points Memo (there really is no equivalent to this on the conservative side of the blogosphere)

Orcinus (focuses on racial and immigration issues; does a fine job of demolishing Michelle Malkin)

Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (he keeps up with religious extremism of all kinds)

You can find ConWebWatch over here.

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