Blogs Have Their Day

How three amateur journalists dethroned an icon and turned the mainstream media upside down, all without quitting their day jobs

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    They're a fun bunch, in a lawyerly way. They have a certain Ping-Pong, finish-each-other's-sentences conversational chemistry, even though Mirengoff and Johnson had never met before they came together to be interviewed for this article. They're good-natured and self-effacing. On any given day, they'll post about 10 items, easily ranging back and forth between serious commentary on current events and quirkier stuff. Hindrocket has a fondness for beauty pageants. The Big Trunk follows popular music. Mirengoff is fanatical about English soccer. But it's not all fun and games. Power Line has a certain urgency for them. All three are former liberals, believe it or not, and when it comes to political arguments, they have the zeal of the convert.

    If you haven't read one, it's hard to describe what makes blogs so special. There's just something about the rhythm and pace of a blog that feels intuitively right. You don't have to sit through fake-cheerful news-team chitchat or wade through endless column inches. It takes about 20 sec. to read a typical blog post, and when you're finished you've got the basic facts up to the minute plus a dab of analysis and a dash of spin. If you're not satisfied, you can click the link for more. If you are, you can go back to checking your e-mail and jiggering your spreadsheets or whatever you do for a living. This is news Jetsons-style. If it were any neater and quicker, it would come in a pill.

    The appeal of Power Line goes beyond convenience. It even goes beyond the charisma of the people who run it and the relative sharpness of their political commentary. Blogs tend to be biased and openly partisan in exactly the way most mainstream news sources aren't. Blogs aren't objective, and they don't pretend to be. When you read Power Line, you feel as if you're part of a community, a like-minded righteous few. It's as if you've stumbled on a sympathetic haven in the lonely, trackless wilderness of the Internet. Blogs like Power Line feed a need to belong. "We get a ton of e-mail from people all over the country expressing gratitude for what we do," says Johnson.

    How can a blog that caters to the right, the political majority who in fact run this country, make Republicans feel as if they're part of a proud, persecuted minority? The villain here isn't the political opposition. It's the left-leaning Mainstream Media, a looming specter that is vilified so routinely on Power Line, it's referred to in shorthand as the MSM. "My view," Johnson says, "is that the mainstream media has acted as a means to obscure, as a kind of filter, a lens that makes it impossible to understand what's going on in reality. We try to provide something that brings people closer to reality."

    "If you're a liberal, what do you need blogs for?" Hinderaker asks, only half-joking. "You've got the New York Times." This kind of tough talk inspires a misty-eyed loyalty on the part of Power Line's conservative following. "No one is as surpassingly adept at picking up on stories the MSM ignores," a fellow blogger wrote about Power Line, "and which the average Joe can viscerally identify with." There's a special bond between Power Line's writers and its readers--Hinderaker, Johnson and Mirengoff list their phone numbers, direct lines, on the website.

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