Monday, July 21, 2008

Netroots Nation (Updated)

I just got back from Austin and the 2008 Netroots Nation convention. Because of my computer issues that I won't go into here, I didn't get to liveblog it. But I can retro blog it.

And what better way to start than to point to pitiful coverage by the Establishment press? In this case, the Austin-American-Statesman.

You can get a clue from this comment on the Sunday editorial page, which they identified only as "A reader's recent comment at Statesman.com/opinion":

I am a blogger from outside of Obamanation. I am glad that he snubbed the same convention which fell over itself promoting him. It continues effectively self-demonstrating what kind of 'leader' he ultimately is and what kind of 'change' American actually would obtain.
Aside from the fact that it doesn't really make jack for sense, it's hard to tell who was more clueless, the fool who wrote it or the editorialists who picked it out to highlight.

As anyone who actually attended one or two of the general sessions would know, the Netroots Nation crowd most certainly did not fall all over ourselves promoting Obama, although the group was enthusiastically in favor of him. There was plenty of criticism of Obama on various points, most especially on his anti-4th Amendment position in the FISA vote.

Also, the Friday evening general session featured a video that Obama made for the Netroots Nation convention. If the editorial page crew had bothered to read the story from the Washington Post wire that their own paper ran on its front page, they would realize that Obama himself was in the middle of a foreign trip. But then, it's easy to forget that in Republican fantasy-land, you get to create your own reality. So maybe in one of those alternative worlds, Obama "snubbed" the convention. But in Austin of the reality-based world, that wasn't the case.


The paper ran a front-page news article on Sunday that sounded like it was written by a frat boy aspiring to be a snarky writer for some "movement conservative" journal: Gore's surprise visit highlights Netroots conference by Patrick Beach Austin-American-Statesman 07/20/08. (Update: The paper's managers at least had sense enough to be embarassed by having presented it as a news story. The story has been moved to this link with a lead-in editorial by Fred Zipp saying that by running the piece as a news story, "we compromised our standards".) He did manage to get a quote or two right (I haven't checked the video, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt). Such as this one from Al Gore's surprise appearance Saturday morning:

You are at the cutting edge of a new era of history. You will look back many years from now and tell your grandchildren about coming here to Austin, Texas, and about the first two meetings of Netroots Nation, and you will tell them that this was the beginning of an effort that was the start to reclaim the integrity of American democracy.
But here's what passes for journalism on the front page of the Austin American-Statesman, from the article's first three paragraphs:

Name-dropping Al Gore and his call for a switch to clean, renewable energy within 10 years was enough to pull whoops of approval from the 2,000 or 3,000 marauding liberals gathered for Netroots Nation at the Austin Convention Center on Saturday morning.

So when the former vice president and Nobel Prize co-winner made a surprise — and cleverly scripted — appearance during U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's talk, it looked like the conference might turn into a faint-in.

Talk that Pelosi (who is arguably so left-leaning that her parenthetical should be D-Beijing) would have a Very Special Guest had been buzzing about the conference of liberal bloggers, pols and media types since it began Thursday (it concludes today). But it wasn't clear to attendees that something was afoot until a schedule change handed out Saturday morning indicated the speaker's talk would last 45 minutes longer than previously indicated.
Actually, what Gore said was that it was both desirable and feasible that in 10 years the United States could get all of our electricity from renewable energy sources. But I guess those boring facts would be too dull for a paper that lets a line like "Pelosi ... is arguably so left-leaning that her parenthetical should be D-Beijing" appear in a front-page news article.

And the Old Media wonders why their credibility is in decline!

I also didn't realize their was any "marauding" going on, though. Maybe that happened on Thursday morning before I got there.

And check out this batty paragraph:

It's plinking bass in a barrel to paint liberals as overly intellectual types incapable of having fun unless reading Noam Chomsky counts, and it sure does for them. And there were a handful of colorful characters, including some men from Cedar Creek who looked like bikers and represented the Warrior Wolf Society, which they described as "a group of pagan warriors with wolf totem spirit," and a guy in a Bush mask and clothing with prison stripes.
I guest "plinking" means something like "shooting" but I don't want to jump to conclusions. It would probably be way too much for the writer to process to explain to him that Noam Chomsky is an anarchist, not a "liberal", and neither he nor any living breathing liberal mistake him for one. And in three days attending the convention, I didn't encounter any biker types from any "Warrior Wolf Society". Admittedly, I'm around San Francisco enough that such a sight wouldn't necessarily register as anything unusual. But I just don't recall seeing them in Austin.

This is my favorite line in the article, though:

The no fun thing? Maybe it's because, as Democrats, they're not used to having it.
I could make some factual arguments against this, too. But, like they say, what happens in Austin stays in Austin. (Or something like that.)

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