On Tuesday Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos, the most trafficked blog on the web, attacked me personally and erroneously for having written a column in the Union Leader (Manchester, NH) in which I defended New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. “The author is a Republican, and a consultant. He stands to lose lots of cash if NH loses its leading role,” he wrote of me in his weblog.
Also on Tuesday the former Director of Internet Organizing for Dean for President, Zephyr Teachout, revealed that the selfsame Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (who goes by the handle “Kos”) had been a paid shill for the Dean campaign, accepting fees for promoting the campaign of the angry little ex-Governor of Vermont on his blog. Oh yeah, Zúniga also gave “advice” to the campaign.
A very interesting revelation for a guy who wrote after the Armstrong Williams pay-for-advocacy scandal broke, “we can assume every conservative pundit is on the White House’s payola rolls,” and accuses the “so-called” liberal media of being “outright shills for the Bush administration.”
You could say I feel vindicated. (For the record, Kos claims to have disclosed his relationship with the Dean campaign, but that must be news to Dean’s former Democrat rivals, all of whom linked up to Kos in their perfect ignorance, even while Kos was campaigning for Dean.)
This mini-scandal is, probably, the blog equivalent of Rathergate or the Williams scandal. As the busiest blog on the web, the Daily Kos receives about a quarter of a million unique “hits” every day. It’s the closest thing we in the blogosphere have to the New York Times, both in volume of readership and absurdity of content.
But this isn’t really about Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, whose sphere of influence never extended beyond the “Bush is Hitler” crowd. It’s about Howard Dean, the sneaky little subversive who now wants to lead the Democrat National Committee out of the wilderness.
A whole new round of unanswered questions ought to anchor Dean’s ascent to the DNC Chairmanship now. Questions like: Was Dean paying him when Kos wrote this little cutie in early April about contract workers who were murdered in Fallujah:
That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.
How about when Kos said John Kerry and his campaign team “should be lined up and shot”? Does Dean endorse Kos’s use of the phrase “racists thugs” to describe his rivals in the blogosphere? Does Dean support Kos’s conspiracy theory that the “neocons” have a secret plan to prolong the terror war by strengthening al Qaeda, expressed thusly:
The lesson (of Berg’s murder) is that not finishing the job in Afghanistan and invading Iraq with no good rationale gave Al Qaida and similar groups time to catch their breath, reorganize, and direct their efforts against a conveniently near target — Iraq. This is the neocon “flypaper” theory in all its glory. It’s working. The neocons WANTED it this way. And they got it. Congratulations.
Or what about Kos’s expressed belief that George W. Bush is responsible for the beheading of Nick Berg:
The prison abuse didn’t cause Berg’s horrific murder. Bush’s (inept) War, in all its glory, did. The Neocon agenda, in all its folly, did. The war cheerleaders now trying to use this for propaganda purposes, in all their idiocy, did. Congrats. Your war spirals ever out of control. Good luck trying to wash the blood out of your hands.
Moreover, in the interest of full disclosure, shouldn’t someone ask Howard Dean if Kos is still shilling for him now that Dean is a candidate for DNC Chair? Kos claims to have folded his consulting outfit, but let’s just say his credibility is shot.
Lest this seem like too much guilt by association, consider that as chairman of the Democrat Nation Committee, Howard Dean would be given the authority to hire scores of employees, consultants, and advisers to rebuild his party and combat the Republicans. The hiring of Markos Moulitsas Zúniga shows Dean has neither the judgment nor the temperament to fill those positions responsibly.