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The Information Reformation

It's speeding up and conservatives are still coming out on top.

12:00 AM, Aug 18, 2005 • By HUGH HEWITT
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DEAN BARNETT of Soxblog has penned a couple of crucial essays on the effects of lefty blogs on the Democratic party that remain must-reads (here and here). Barnett is expanding on a theme sounded by Michael Barone in a February column in U.S. News & World Report where Barone asked and answered his own question: "So what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans."

While the lefty blogs are helping to push the Democrats over the cliff, the center-right blogs continue to grow in influence and to innovate. Two examples deserve widespread attention.

First, let us now praise Day by Day's Chris Muir, the funniest and sharpest three panel political cartoonist at work in America today. Muir's timeliness and productivity have created a large audience for him online, which is growing wider and wider as new blog consumers arrive in record numbers. Many bloggers routinely cite or even carry the Muir strip of the day (an innovation I first noticed at Captain's Quarters), and Muir's popularity further strengthens the center-right blogosphere's vast humor advantage over the relentlessly profane, vulgar and snarling left. With James Lileks, Scrappleface, Fraters, and ProteinWisdom also at work on a near daily basis, Muir makes the center-right's funny folks the blogosphere's Globetrotters to the left's Washington Generals. It is a very great thing to have the advantage in the humor corner. Ask Joe Lieberman about his 2000 debate with the Dick Cheney. The left has to pretend to like Ted Rall. The center-right gets the real thing.

(Note: Before you send emails noting that some of these center-right folks sometimes--or in Jeff Goldstein's case, pretty much every day--use vulgar and profane humor, let me assure you that I know that. But as a group, they are not addicted to it, and some use it not at all or very sparingly.)

The second significant development is the recent launch of Power Line News by DAILY STANDARD contributors John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson, and Paul Mirengoff, who have been writing at their blog Power Line for years and who were Time magazine's Bloggers of the Year in 2004 for their work in exposing CBS and Dan Rather as gullible victims of a crude fraud. But the trio is no longer content with exposing mainstream media absurdities. Now they are about replacing one of mainstream media's remaining utilities: That of news aggregator and editor.

As the daily information avalanche keeps getting bigger and bigger, and the data mountains higher and higher, the need for sherpas increases. No one person can keep on top of it all, but the technology Power Line News harnesses puts the new media's best content in a compact and easy-to-use display--basically mirroring the function RealClearPolitics performs for old media. Reliable aggregation of content is a huge development, one which further weakens the mainstream media.

It is hard to overstate the speed with which the information reformation is advancing--or to overestimate its impact on politics and culture. The mainstream media is a hollowed-out shell of its former self when it comes to influence, and when advertisers figure out who is reading the blogs, the old media is going to see their advertising base drain away, and not slowly. Other new aggregators are in the works, and the revenue flowing into new media will further strengthen and expand its reach.