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Firedoglake reports, decides

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, December 3 2009

Politico's Ben Smith has a profile of Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher that is, naturally, well worth reading. A taste:

The initiative is Hamsher's latest assault on what she calls “the Veal Pen” - the tightly-managed coalition of Democratic groups centered financially around the Democracy Alliance and organizationally around the Center for American Progress, both in turn creations of the left in exile in the Bush years. She borrowed the phrase from Douglas Coupland's 1991 "Generation X," in which he used it to describe a generation trapped in cubicles.

The piece does a nice job of tying together how Hamsher's brand of blogging activism engages with political officialdom, and there's some juicy details on intra-blogosphere spats. But what's particularly interesting for those of us with an interest in the past and future of the progressive blogosphere, such as it is, is how FDL serves as what might be the highest-profile example of how proto-blogging circa 2003 or so has evolved and found some success -- without simply becoming a "new media" version of old media.

Firedoglake blends original reporting (with its coverage of the Scooter Libby trial being where it really made its name) and direct political activism. That direct political activism can come in the form of agitating against specific legislative hooks, like a pledge to support a public health care option or phonebanking against the Stupak amendment on abortion funding. And it can also mean pushing Democrats towards a more muscular progressivism, like working to fuel a populist resistance to our Wall Street-centric financial world. FDL's style, arguably, is more of a direct descendant of the blogging on the left that grew out of resistance to the Iraq War than is the large stable of of political "blogs" that focus on advocacy journalism presented in reverse chronological order.

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