Skippy the Bush Kangaroo has been a member of blogtopia (yes, he coined that phrase!) since July of 2002. When he’s not coining phrases like “blogtopia,” he’s writing razor sharp political commentary, all without the use of capitalized letters. Recently, he has been at the center of a liberal blogosphere controversy concerning the purging of A-list blogrolls. Since the entire fiasco began, he has been diligently rounding up bloggers in his blogroll amnesty program.
Simon Owens: In our last interview, you mentioned your link policy in which you only link to political bloggers who link back to you. I’ve noticed this trend a lot in the blogosphere. Do you think that many blogs rely too much on an inner-linking buddy system? For instance, I’ve noticed that link bloggers like Instapundit and Atrios will often link to the same A-list bloggers consistently. Where’s the diversity?
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: wow, one of the reasons it took me so long to get to this interview was that this week was the week atrios and kos decided to scrub their rolls of many, many blogs, including mine. i have been trying to make my case on dkos to keep my link there but to no avail. aside from the personal slight (because i think both duncan and markos handled the event incredibly poorly and rudely, without any individual warnings or emails to anybody) i think it’s an incredibly short-sighted self-serving act that will hurt the left side of blogtopia (and yes, i coined that phrase!).
as you may or may not know, google search hierarchy ranking depends in part upon the number of links to your stories and blog(s). with the severing of the link path between the more visible, successful blogs (atrios and dkos) and the median blogs such as my own, my left wing by maryscott o’connor, the booman tribune, the sideshow by avedon carol (i could go on and on), these bloggers in the upper eschalon (rhymes with eschaton) has effectively cut off the inter-connected support system of left, or liberal thought in cyberspace.
one of the reasons you see so many conservative blogs in google search results is that most of the conservative bloggers link happily to each other, small and large alike. while some lefties have said (in dkos comments) that this leads to a parroting of ideas, or echo chamber, i maintain that one can support without automatically repeating mindlessly. jon swift wrote an excellent post on his informal study of big conservative blogrolls vs. big liberal blogrolls, and a new york magazine piece that comments on your very question. jon swift’s post is here
another problem i have is that by cutting off the link path to mid-level blogs, the big blogs in effect cut off the path to the smaller and newer blogs, and by extension, to more diverse voices. but the biggest problem that i see in this blog roll purge is the hypocrisy of the two big blogs (and also jesus’ general, who also purged many blogs, including my own, from his roll) purporting to be concerned with democratic, liberal, progressive issues and citizen journalism, while at the same time cutting themselves (and more importantly, their readers) off from other democrats, liberals, progressives, and citizen journalists.
it smacks of the very pundit class elitism that they have historically decried. why should i listen to markos or duncan point out the insular ivory tower befuddlement of david broder or chris matthews when they themselves are sitting in a self-made cyber ivory tower, insulated from the people who supported them from the beginning?
now i am lucky in that so far, knock wood (here i tap my head twice), i haven’t lost any traffic. other magnanimous big blogs still link to me, and i find traffic coming to skippy now more thru digby, crooks&liars, steve gilliard, firedoglake, eric alterman’s column at media matters and talkleft. so apparently my readers are simply finding new cyber paths to my stuff.
but aside from the rudeness of it all, i truly fear that this only shatters, rather than coalesces, the liberal side of blogs. and it truly shows that duncan and markos were never in it to help american citizens participate in government, but rather to simply find a new way to power and money for themselves, a way that nobody ever tried before: the internet.
whew! glad i got that off my chest! aren’t you sorry you asked that?
Simon Owens: After 2004, a lot of conservative bloggers mocked Kos because all the candidates he chose to fund ended up losing. Such is not the case in 2006. How much credit can we give to the netroots for winning political campaigns?
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: a lot. a lot more than the political establishment is willing to concede. you’ll notice that tammy duckworth, ken lucas and lois murphy, the candidates the dccc backed to the hilt, lost, while many other candidates that the blogs supported with the grudging acceptance of the dccc, won. jonathan singer at mydd makes the case convincingly here.
i’m not going to say that the netroots are 100% responsible for all the wins in november. and it’s especially important to remember that the dems just barely squeaked by in the senate. but the enthusiasm as well as the actual elbow grease and blood, sweat and tears from the volunteers (as well as a lot of the $$$) are direct results of netroots actions.
Simon Owens: This week we saw the annoucement that Glenn Greenwald will be transferring his blog to Salon.com, and he was quick to respond to his critics who claimed he was “selling out.” What are some of the pros and cons of these political bloggers being bought up by larger, more-mainstream publications? I mean, I know that Salon is no New York Times, but it’s definitely in the big leagues.
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: in glenn’s case, suppposedly no pros or cons (except for maybe glenn’s bank account, a big pro there!), because he says salon will have no editorial say in not only his content but also the number of posts he writes. he assures his audience the only difference will be a url change. we’ll see.
let’s remember that kevin drum of the washington monthly has been blogging on that publication’s payroll for a few years now. i believe he was the very first political blogger to actually get a job doing it. i knew his stuff from when he was calpundit, just blogging away for the hell of it. it seems to me that his stuff hasn’t changed in either approach or content or tone, either.
like any job, you gots to keep the boss happy. so, unless you are expecting a big inheritance, or have your own business (in which case people gots to make you happy) or just love to grub around for roots and nuts to survive, all of us “sell out” one way or another. liberals aren’t against capitalism, they are against oppression. capitalism, when regulated, works jes’ fine, if i may quote fremont the bug from pogo by walt kelly.
Simon Owens: There’s lots of popular bloggers, like yourself, who remain anonymous. Have you ever received heavy criticism for this?
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: i never have, thank goodness. for one thing, several people on the net know my true identity. some figured it out from excellent detective work, some i have told, most la bloggers i have met face to face. nobody’s ever said boo to me about it. i think it’s because i picked a pretty inocuous nom de blog. who wants to make trouble for skippy the bush kangaroo?
Simon Owens: Now that we see bloggers being snapped up for political campaigns, if you ever had a politician approach you asking you to be an “internet/blogger consultant,” would you do it?
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: i’d really have to believe in the candidate or the pay check. and to be truthful, i don’t think my sort of stuff is the sort of stuff any campaign serious about winning wants to have involved with their candidate. look at the dust up with amanda marcotte and melissa mcewan, both of whom i know thru blogging circles, when they were hired by the edwards campaign. tho the so-called scandal was pretty much manufactured by the same mindset that brought you the swift boat campaign against kerry, there were some dicey moments when what the ladies wrote in their past got back to them. luckily edwards stood by them, making me a