Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

3/11/2005

Protocols of the Elders of Blogging

Is this one of the perks of being a MOBster?

On behalf of the boys of TBFKADVK, yours truly paid his respects to the Godfathers of the local blogging scene, those nefarious boys of Power Line, John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson, as the duo was honored by Minnesota’s conservative think tank, the Center of the American Experiment (poor Paul Mirengoff, the Pete Best of the blogging set, was not present). The duo’s presentation, ”The Sixty-First Minute, Blogging on the Eve of Dan Rather’s Retirement”, was planned to begin immediately following Rather’s closing remarks on CBS Evening News---a sort of blogger version of those opposition responses to the State of the Union, although Hinderaker and Johnson are a much more articulate pair than Pelosi and Reid (and best I can tell, have far less botox).

My presence at the event was by no means assured. But fortune favors the bold---if by fortune you mean completely happenstance and by bold you mean the single and bored. A last second invite by Saint Paul of Fraters to TBFKADVK coupled with the declining responses by Gary and Doug found myself breaking into my very busy schedule of sitting to rub elbows at the table reserved for the NARN boys and their Patriot 1280am brethren.

A word of advice to the Center for the American Experiment for future such gatherings---even the greatest food in the world loses its allure when being eaten while watching network news. The buffet seemed so much more inviting in line while observing Saint Paul performs amazing contortions of simultaneously talking politics to renowned Minnesota pundit Sarah Janecek while flirting with City Pages correspondent Molly Priesmeyer. The concept of the evening’s remarks following Rather’s sign-off was a wonderful set-up, except for having to endure the monotone twang of Rather’s own brand of folksy liberalism for his entire broadcast. Fortunately, the volume on Rather’s newscast was blissfully turned down by the time most people had settled in their seats.

As the clock ticked down on Rather’s retirement, the din of the crowd lessened more and more until images of 9/11 appeared on the screen and Rather darkly intoned, ”this is a day you will remember the rest of your life.” It was almost moving as Rather recalled 9/11 and the somber days that followed but the aging anchorman, the dinosaur from the era when television consisted of the Big Three and none other, strayed into classic Rather territory as he concluded. His one-time signature closing line, ”courage”, returned to be blurted out like a mental patient obsessively saying ”spoon” or some other noun---a fitting finale to a bizarre career and one that brought a few chuckles and plently of strange looks around the room.

Johnson and Hinderaker spent very little of the evening fisking Rather, focusing primarily on how Power Line was founded (and named---by one of Hinderaker’s daughter’s friends) and the role the site’s readers played in the infamous Memogate scandal which launched the site to international prominence. The two reiterated on numerous occasions that the readers of Power Line deserved most of the credit for the ”Sixty First Minute” story, prompting Minnesota Taxpayer's League President (and fellow blogger) David Strom to say of the evening that he’d never seen Johnson so humble (although with David, most everything he says has a sarcastic edge, so perhaps it was an insult). Both Johnson and Hinderaker seem to have understood their roles as ambassadors of the blogosphere and so after a few hiccups on the ego highway (”Power Line Radio” anyone?), they’ve settled into a positive habit of taking some of their spotlight and reflecting it on others who deserve credit for their own investigative pseudo-journalism.

Not surprisingly, the crowd was well informed about blogs and blogging in general. Perhaps they were even too informed as when during the Q&A session, one attendee called the duo, and all bloggers, ”heroes.” Neither Power Liner had to spend any time explaining what a blog was, instead diving into the meat of the 60 Minutes story and later, their reactions to some of the major stories of the day. Watching the crowd interact with Johnson and Hinderaker, I saw a glimpse of the future of communication---a future with a smarter electorate and a general public better able and more willing to engage in debate and political discussion. Some in the audience were aware of that future as well, asking if either blogger feared any negative consequences with the growth of the blog. While both acknowledged the blogosphere had its share of kooks (many of whom deliver endless amounts of email to the site), as Hinderaker said, ”the solution to bad speech is more speech, not less.”

By pure luck, Minnesota has become an epicenter of the blogosphere thanks to being called home by some of the most talented bloggers in the business. By pure luck, someone who wasn’t even blogging five months ago is getting free tickets to an even like this to be surrounded by many of Minnesota’s political and blogging elite.

Pinch me. Hell, pinch everybody at TBFKADVK.

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