Mother Jones: Who’s doing a better job of using the Internet, Republicans or Democrats?
Jane Hamsher: If backing winners is your metric, [Republicans] fall far short. And they don’t raise any money. My understanding is that the Republican Party is very upset with right-wing bloggers and their inability to form communities, to raise money, to have any kind of cohesive group action. They just exist really as the toenail clippings of the mighty Wurlitzer, endlessly repeating what right-wing talk radio says. And right-wing talk radio has a much more powerful effect than they do.
The strength of the left-wing blogosphere comes from the communities that we’re able to create and those communities exist because we allow comments and we interact with our commenters. It’s very organic and bottom up. The left-wing blogosphere, because there’s no money in it, it’s essentially a meritocracy. You have a bunch of people who are very creative. The threshold for entry is very low. You have a lot of people with a lot to say. It leads to a large talent pool. Contrast that with the right, where they are basically subsidized through wingnut welfare to get online and repeat endlessly what people hear on Rush Limbaugh every day. They’re not great minds, you know? They are keeping really mediocre people as the voice of the right and it’s not inspiring anyone.
MJ: Can a Democrat win without winning over the blogosphere?
JH: The Democrats are still trying to play this Big Tent bullshit over a center that doesn’t exist. As they wake up and smell the coffee, they’ll realize they have to play to the base. The place the base goes to organize, get its opinions, is increasingly online. It may not be everyone, but it’s everyone who are the opinion makers, the people who collect at the water cooler in the office, and everyone wants to know what they’re thinking. They tend to have influence beyond what their numbers would indicate. In this next election cycle, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama probably don’t need the netroots behind them-they just need us not to hate them. Whereas we could be more helpful to the candidacy of a John Edwards or a Bill Richardson or somebody like that. But beyond 2008, they’re going to be dealing with a situation much like the Republicans are. They have a base and they have to be able to speak to them. They won’t be able to marginalize the netroots, because it’s not one blogger-its not Markos, it’s not Atrios-it’s the way the base communicates with each other.
MJ: Do you think that women are adequately represented in the blogosphere?
JH: On the whole, it is men who read blogs. But I think it’s a meritocracy. My blog has a much higher percentage of women readers than any other major blog, and I’ve never found this to be a problem for myself. If your writing is good, they will come. You have to put in the time to figure out how the blogosphere works. If you’re willing to do that, I don’t think being female is any barrier. In fact, I think it’s an advantage at this point. The A-list bloggers are hungry and looking to give exposure to women who write really well. Most of those criticisms of male A-list bloggers shutting out women-I really don’t have any other word to call it except just “bullshit.”