When Has a Progressive Blog Jumped the Shark?

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While the precise moment a cultural phenomenon has jumped the shark is often difficult to pinpoint (was it when J.R. was shot?), there are moments when it’s absolutely clear. Every sensible TV viewer knows that The West Wing was never the same after President Bartlett fired Leo.

With political blogs, it might be easier to tell. I’d say when a leftist blog resorts to using a conservative news site that traffics in the worst kind of race baiting, gay bashing, nativist hate speech, and simple dishonesty as a source, simply because they’re so desperate to attack Democratic politicians in Montana might just be that flying Fonzie moment.

If you’re unfamiliar with World News Daily, the source cited by 4and20blackbirds today, they recently published a book called Negrophila, which discusses “an “undue and inordinate affinity for blacks” – to describe the mindset that he says is behind a pervasive manipulation expertly employed and exploited to divide and destroy American society.”

Just today, their site features headlines like:

  • ‘Gay’ Laws Set Stage for Pedophilia ‘Rights’
  • Rush: Racism worse under Obama
  • Transgender Indoctrination in Our Schools
  • Bachmann grills Bernanke over ‘extraordinary’ accounting measure

Hard to spend even an instant on WND without understanding exactly what it is.

4and20 blackbirds used to be the best, most thought-provoking, and most unique political blog in the state. I miss it, but no amount of my disappointment will bring it back to what I enjoyed—and the writers there today certainly aren’t under any obligation to meet my expectations.

But there’s a lot of Internet out there, and interesting and unique voices writing about politics in the state and the nation.  Those are the sources I’ll be engaging with, arguing with, and learning from in the future.

That said, best of luck to the current hosts over there.  There’s certainly an audience for their point of view, and I hope they continue to enjoy writing. One fewer member of the audience is certainly no big deal.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
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Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

Wow! Sad to see a supposed lefty site lose it altogether! Guess that they couldn’t handle the competition and had to go to the black market of ideas for news. But really, Jerome Corsi????? Jeebus. Might as well close up shop now, for after that piece, only jon “scoop” adams will be reading!

I actually thought better of JC. What happened over there?? Now THAT would be an interesting read!

Norma Duffy
Guest

People on the right like Mark and Craig wore them out. Incessantly badgering them into submission. I saw it during the grizzly football scandal and every story after that. Lets face it as bloggers you only get a select few to speak there mind, a good 75 % Just LURK, its always been that way and dumb people mistake the ones who speak for the ones who lurk. Its a pretty stupid way to do blogging. selling out your soul to us loudmouths. And I am not saying that I not one of them, but if I see a blog… Read more »

Turner
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Turner

I guess I’m slow this morning, but I couldn’t find the link to World News Daily in 4 & 20 Blackbirds. How are they the source?

If Schweitzer is involved in a scandal, let’s hear about it. If he’s not guilty of anything, he’ll be able to show this.

I hope his hands are clean of anything besides coal.

Rob Kailey
Guest

Turner, that form of thinking is precisely the problem with using WND as a source, and the tenor of JC’s post. It is a presumption (gross assumption/accusation) of guilt. And it carries with it the blithe dismissal that if Schweitzer hasn’t done wrong then he is obligated to prove it to the satisfaction of his naysayers. He’s not obligated to prove anything, to you, JC or the fine wingnuts in TeaPeep land. To further Pogie’s point (which Norma elucidated well), this very comment can and would be dismissed as a blind defense of Schweitzer. That’s par for the course at… Read more »

Turner
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Turner

Rob, I think public figures, especially politicians, need to go beyond claims of presumed innocence that might suffice for an ordinary citizen like me .

I’m certainly not saying where there’s smoke there’s fire. I’m saying that Schweitzer needs to aggressively rebut charges made about him when they’re untrue.

In politics, silence is an admission of guilt.

By the way, I strongly suspect that Brian’s not dirty.

Rob Kailey
Guest

I accept that in politics the appearance of impropriety is as damaging as impropriety. The right has used that as a weapon far too often, to the point that a sitting President, and proud black American, had to *prove* that he wasn’t born in Kenya. It’s a simple process. Level a specious allegation, found it on misinterpretation and innuendo, manufacture the evidence if you have to, and then demand a response based on the idea that a politician has to EARN (morally purchase) your vote. That’s not representative Democracy; It’s insanity. The most painful part of that inhuman behavior is… Read more »

Norma Duffy
Guest

Mind you. the GOP and the far left Emo progs don’t understand what Don or You are saying,… it is too nuanced, too reasoned with fact, too well thought out, too plain for the unreasonable to grasp. It amazes me how many of the right and left wing media uses the same bad source, to tell a story from. Each embellishes on a bad source until its a completely new story of absolute lies. Or rehash an old rumored story that never sprung legs first time around. and after breathing a little literary license into it… wingnut hysteria Blooms…….Because lets… Read more »

Turner
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Turner

OK, I found the WND link. It’s sad.

Garden Variety
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Garden Variety

sniff sniff, smells like an internet fight is brewing. This should be fun.

Rob Kailey
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Not likely.

Norma Duffy
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Nah watching Republicans fight with themselves is more like a double header of bad movies at the dilapidated Metro…. you know the kind of old Movie house I am talking about. where the floor is trashed and the armrests and seats are sticky. the first movie, is a thriller, written by Gingrich and choke full of inaccuracies of reporting and male dominated vibrato and chest pounding. the story makes little sense since they keep cutting back to Newt and his plastic hair styled wife Clarisa. The second choke full of “Way out” conspiracies and Gods second coming as told by… Read more »

Concerned Troll
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Concerned Troll

Blixseth’s lead attorney is an Allen West donor:

http://images.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?13940241490

Who lied about his employment, saying he was retired. So while this could have some sort of truth to it, there is a political motivation to take down Holder/Breuer/Schweitzer.

Norma Duffy
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Its amazing how the GOP still haven’t figured out the internet, and the treasure trove of crap Dems find on our ethic-less opposition.

Moorcat
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I disagree with you, Norma. It wasn’t Craig, Mark, Ingy, or any one of the 10 or so other rightwing trolls that “corrupted” 4 & 20. It was the authors at 4 & 20 “buying into their own press”. Like Don, I used to like reading 4 & 20. As a moderate conservative, I often disagreed with their slant to many stories, but the writing was educated, and the discussions were more often than not, courteous. That all changed when Pete and Matt left the state. 4 & 20 took a HARD turn to the wingnut left and they started… Read more »

lizard
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lizard

still interested in depicting your brother as a victim. that’s rich.

Rob Kailey
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“Depiction” seems to be your forte, Liz.

Moorcat
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I don’t depict Rob as a victim. In the spectrum of the Montana intertubes, Rob is about the least likely “victim” around. He is quite capable of giving far more than he receives and his ability to use simple logic is WAY above the level of most of the authors/commenters in the Montana blogspace – you included. I was simply stating what I witnessed as a reader and why I will never be a reader of 4 & 20 again. You are welcome to accept my comments for what they are or not. I know you won’t lose any sleep… Read more »

Rob Kailey
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Oh no no no. According to JC and Lizard Larry Kralj and I are ‘dogs’. How sad an existence must you have when you can’t see how that’s a compliment? 😉

lizard
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lizard

I miss having a better variety of writers as well, and I wish there was more content written by people other than myself, but it is what it is, and I don’t plan on pulling back any time soon.

anyway, thanks for removing the link to our blog on your blogroll, Don. JC and I have both gone to the dark side, and while there is no hope for us, you can definitely save your readers from wondering over to our neck of the cyber-woods.

Norma Duffy
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I can’t speak to Rob and Kenneth’s point of view, nor Liz for that matter…. wasn’t in the mix at that time there, and really wasn’t aware…. But I can say I will continue to read 4 and 20 and hope it gets better for Liz….. and this point its looks like a long walk from Anchorage Alaska barefooted for her, but anything is possible to make it get better sooner…. Good luck it will be a long slog, if you continue not to reign in the extremes

Pete Talbot
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Pete Talbot

Just some background here: in the heady, early days of blogging in Montana, Left in The West and 4&20 Blackbirds were the go to sites for Democratic/progressive insights. Rob Kailey’s A Chicken is not Pillage was also a major contributor to the discussion. At least, that’s how I remember it. Matt Singer was the main contributor at LiTW and Jay Stevens, my mentor, authored 4&20. Jay went over to LiTW for awhile, until he moved away. Occasionally, Matt would write for 4&20. Intelligent Discontent, MT Cowgirl and Flathead Memo came into play a bit later — correct me if I’m… Read more »

Pogie
Guest

Pete,

I appreciate the comment–and I think your history is pretty accurate. I was surprised the other day to realize that I have been at this (on and off) for eight years.

I absolutely understand feeling like life and exhaustion get in the way of writing, but I hope you’ll offer some insights when you get the chance.

As for the fighting, I definitely agree. It’s exhausting. I think break represents a desire to eliminate one source of fighting from my life. 🙂

Pogo Possum
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Pogo Possum

I do agree with you Pete and good to see you posting again. A fellow I know in the Republican Party jokes at times that the most important thing any first time political candidate should do upon winning an election is to make friends with people in the opposing party so she/he will have someone to talk to after taking office, knowing that the most vicious criticism and condemnation often comes from within a party and not from the outside. Lizard is learning this advice should also apply to anyone who decides to become a regular contributor to a political… Read more »

Rob Kailey
Guest

Allow me to add a little to that history. Not Pillage predates LitW by some time, not that I was blogging before Matt. He was blogging elsewhere, most notably at Not Geniuses with some schlub named Ezra Klein. When Matt would vacation away from LitW, I was his guest blogger until he brought in additional authors (V, Jay and Bob Brigham.) But my website was the magnet for the hatred from the right. I was fine with that, because the leftward community knew who the enemy was. A truth of human activity is that when many people engage in a… Read more »

Craig Moore
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Craig Moore

Don, did you read James Conner’s latest? http://www.flatheadmemo.com/archives_2013/july_sept_2013/2013-07-19_why_Tester_stabbed_Schweitzer.html Brian Schweitzer campaigned hard for Jon Tester in 2006. And Tester needed the help, defeating incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Conrad Burns by just 3,562 votes. Last week Tester returned the favor with dirty dealings — rumors of dark money sins by Schweitzer and allegations that Schweitzer wasn’t a team player — that persuaded Schweitzer to suddenly decide against running for the U.S. Senate next year. Tester’s official response is, of course, “Who? Me?” But I no longer consider his denials credible. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together, and the emerging… Read more »

Norma Duffy
Guest

I got to hand it to you Craig, your lot, of Uninformed sources have even gotten to james. But the story is not even credible coming from him….. it just has too many holes in it. First of all Tester will be the senior senator from Montana, even if Brian won that seat. Even Brain knows that, again he would be playing second fiddle, something he doesn’t want to do. Secondly, and I have it on good authority should Clinton decide to not run, that leaves Brian who has been groomed for the presidency since 2007 by some of the… Read more »

Craig Moore
Guest
Craig Moore

Norma, did you see James exception to your claim that his sources are uninformed? http://mtcowgirl.com/2013/07/22/rumors-from-australia-about-schweitzer-tester-and-baucus/#comment-146894

I double sourced my stuff, and I used damned good sources. Why Tester did what he did becomes clearer when one considers just how weak a candidate he’ been and is. See http://www.flatheadmemo.com/archives_2013/july_sept_2013/2013-07-21_tester_was_weakest_dem_winner.html.

I go where the facts that me, not where my heart would like to go.

Pogie
Guest

I did, but I just don’t see it. The idea that Tester is planning ahead about Daines in 2018 seems pretty implausible to me.

I suspect there is certainly some bad blood between Schweitzer, Tester, and Baucus, but I think that James goes too far in his claims.

Matthew Koehler
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Matthew Koehler

Why is it implausible to think that Senator Tester and his staffers might be thinking about the next election they have to win? And that they may take some steps or actions now to make their 2018 election bid, perhaps, a bit easier? For me, what’s implausible is that any current member of the US House or US Senate isn’t thinking about their next election.

Moorcat
Guest

Matthew, It is a LARGE jump from thinking about the next campaign to torpedoing a popular and hard working member of your party. Like others here, I just don’t buy it. I get that you don’t like Tester – he isn’t “pure enough” for you. Too bad. This story stinks to high heaven and it only rings true to the emo-progs like you.

James Conner
Guest

This is now my latest:

http://www.flatheadmemo.com/archives_2013/july_sept_2013/2013-07-21_tester_was_weakest_dem_winner.html

I go where the facts take me, not where my heart would like to go.

I voted for Tester in 2006 and 2012, and will vote for him in 2018 if he’s the Democratic nominee.

Is he already planning for his next election? Of course. All politicians do that unless they’re victims of term limits.

lizard19
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lizard19

good luck, James.

Norma Duffy
Guest

Thinking thats what they might be doing… 7 months after an election, but all the other crappola supposedly done??? Nah Has Brian cooked his own goose with the Democratic party? Well, I don’t just see it yet. He has too much pull with constituents and fundraising for anyone in the upper Democratic cloudsphere to hurt him. He is a cash cow for the Dems even if he never ran again! And Brian’s eyes are further up the food chain, always has been, do you honestly believe Tester would burn a guy who might run for president? Honestly? I Don’t. This… Read more »

Rob Kailey
Guest

~sigh~ When i shared the link to this post on FaceofEvilBook, I wrote: “Take a look at what defines the extreme of the right-wing. Comforting paranoia that you are important enough that those who disagree always mean you harm. Slavish devotion to the notion that you have the highest religious or pseudo-religious ideals. Demand that you are right until someone proves you wrong, with dismissal of any proof of such a thing. Creation of personal drama as a means to justify that dismissal.” JC, in his rebuttal to this post by Pogie writes: “Hot on the heals of my post… Read more »

Eric
Guest
Eric

” Yes, Craig, Mark, Ingy, Greg, and Eric were pains in their posteriors, but they had a simple solution to those guys – they simply banned them. ” Wrong – as usual- I’ve never been banned anywhere. The blogs peaked several years ago, back when newspaper reporters were calling me to discuss politics – and the Montana blogs have been dying a slow, lingering death ever since. Rob, I’m surprised at you that you didn’t mention City Lights in your blogger-history lesson – because Ed Kemmick ruled the blogs for years. He got tired of blogging, which I can understand,… Read more »

Rob Kailey
Guest

Kemmick is a delightful writer, but no one mistook his for a standard blog. It was newspaper sponsored, and he mostly wrote of the fascinating places and doings of his work as a journalist. What is under discussion here are personal blogs that to whatever degree advocated a particular political stripe, something Ed tended strongly to avoid.

Rob Kailey
Guest

I’ve had a couple of days to mull it over, and I’m just not sold on Jame’s Connor’s idea that Tester shived Schweitzer. The idea is most certainly plausible in a totally Game of Thrones manner, but the assumptions are … irksome. Since I can’t comment it on James’ site, I’ll just post my musings here. The first assumption is that Tester is a ‘weak candidate’ and he knows it. This is based on the idea that Tester has won his only two state-wide races with a plurality. Fair enough. Except, in the business community one tends to learn fairly… Read more »

James Conner
Guest

I will always defend your right to disagree with me, but sometimes, as in this case, I will not defend your disagreement. If Tester didn’t do it, who did? And how do you know?

Rob Kailey
Guest

It would be easy to say ‘Colonel Mustard, in the Library with the Candlestick’. The fact is, I don’t know who did it, or if any real “it” was actually done. The situation at hand is not one in which I am certain you are wrong. I just don’t see a foundation, as many others seem to, for any certainty that you are right. Jon Tester has already defeated the state’s two most powerful Republicans, one in a race that was the most expensive in state history. These are not the hallmarks of a candidate prone to seeing himself weak… Read more »

Norma Duffy
Guest

Not taking anything away from you James… Usually you are spot on, but after every election is a group of second guessing, people who worked for a campaign that seem to think they weren’t patted on the back enough. This is the M.O. I smell here. everyone vying for a Steve Schmidt Job at a big network. And then there is the lack of evidence, just the scuttle butt supported by more scuttle butt…. I realize you are just giving us what you heard, but their story is incomplete, somewhat Taudry, and with little else. Think about it, why hasn’t… Read more »

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