August 25, 2007
An Obvious Omission
In his latest column for Tribune Media Services, Jonah Goldberg deals with the question of why in recent years “conservative” websites have not fared as well as “liberal” ones. Apparently back in the salad days of the Clinton administration, everyone who counted was reading or writing for “conservative” websites. But then everything changed dramatically: “liberalism is having a nice moment”largely because the Republican president and the Iraqi war are unpopular.” Moreover, the “energy is on liberalism’s side”and that translates into success in the digital world. Conservative media and Free Republic-style activists prospered in the Clinton 1990s because that’s when we were on offense. And it’s always more exciting”and easier”to be on offense. In the Bush years it’s the other way around.”
Unless Jonah is invincibly stupid, which I don”t think he is, surely he and his friends must know that never in American history have rightwing bloggers attracted more readers than they are at this moment. But the websites that are showing the biggest growth are not the neocon-controlled ones, which distil the same party line day-in and day-out. The websites on the right that are drawing in rapidly increasing numbers of visitors are the ones managed and staffed by paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians. Indeed it would be fair to say that our side would be lying in History’s dustbin were it not for this website and other ones to which we link. It behooves Goldberg to acknowledge this fact, even though he may wish that it were not true. At the very least he should know that we know that he is not divulging everything when he reports that “conservative” websites are losing out to “liberal” ones.
According to quantcast.com data about the relative traffic on different websites, Antiwar.com, a paleolibertarian enterprise, is outdrawing Goldberg’s NRO on the order of about 2.5 to 1 each month. Right now Antiwar.com is pulling in a monthly global total of almost 500,000 readers. According to the Google Analytics data that his foundation uses, Lew Rockwell has been recently approaching similar numbers as compared to the monthly figure of 208,000 which I have located on quantcast.com for Goldberg’s website. Vdare.com, on the basis of the same source, gets over 52,000 hits monthly, which is at least five times its number five years ago. And this newly started website for which I am writing is, according to quantcast.com, edging its way up to 13,000. Unlike the money-engorged and grotesquely wasteful NRO, all paleo websites operate on a shoe string. Rockwell’s well frequented website not only does not pay for contributions but asks for donations from contributors. (I give to Lew gladly, although I don”t always agree with the views expressed on his website, because we need the kind of diversity on the right that he and others are now providing.) The fact that our side has done so brilliantly with so little may tell more about the caliber of our opposition than it does about our merits.
A final relevant observation comes from Scott Richert, who assists with the Chronicles website. Scott tells me that it is highly doubtful that Jonah and his buds are losing numbers. In the last ten years most political websites have increased their traffic because of improved access to readers and because more and more people go online for information and commentary. What Jonah meant to say is that Moveon.org, Daily Kos, and other leading leftist websites have surged in the blogosphere while NRO has grown less dramatically. What Jonah would slit his throat before admitting is that what he calls the “lunatic” Right, e.g., Taft Republicans, have also shared in this surge.