Nightline Interview Part 2
TAPPER: I guess I don't understand -- I don't understand what issues you're talking about. Clearly, Joe Lieberman believes what he believes. You disagree with it, but he believes what he believes. But on other issues, you think that groups like the abortion-rights community on certain candidates should just suck it up and let a pro-life Democrat win a Senate seat because that's the best chance that the Democrats have to capture that seat. And I don't -- when you talk about 'shared values,' I guess I just don't know which values you're talking about. Lieberman votes with the Democrats most of the time. But on some issues, he doesn't -- Social Security and Iraq ...
MOULITSAS: We're talking about some of the two biggest issues.
TAPPER: But, I mean, which are the issues that you're talking about?
MARKOS MOULITSAS: We're talking values. I'm not talking issues. Democrats are too focused on -- Democrats are too focused on talking about issues when they should be talking about values.
TAPPER: What values are you talking about?
MOULITSAS: We're talking about things like opportunity and fairness and investing in our people. I mean, that's the sort of thing that we want to be talking about. And policies and issues that infringe upon those shared values are a problem. People who support Republican efforts to destroy things like Social Security are obviously a problem. I mean, we have Democrats representing some very conservative states that get a lot of support. I'm saying people like Brian Schweitzer because he does not undermine the Democratic Party. He promotes the Democratic Party, he promotes those values that he finds that are important that define him as a Democrat.
And, you know, to me it's -- I always like to point out that one of the least-liked people on Daily Kos is Nancy Pelosi, who is the House minority leader, very, very liberal Democrat, and she's one of the least-liked people.
MOULITSAS: Because a lot of us don't think she has been a very effective leader in the House in opposing and defining Republicans and in defining what Democrats themselves stand for. We want Democrats that are not afraid to be Democrats. That's what we're looking for. And anybody that hides from the label, anybody that ...
TAPPER: Nancy Pelosi is not afraid to be a Democrat. But the idea is that she hasn't been an effective leader of Democrats in the House?
MOULITSAS: That's the sentiment, yes. And there's signs, and I have to say, that there's signs that that's changing. She's been a lot more aggressive lately. The Republicans didn't come to power by meekly trying to split hairs. They came to power by clearly making a distinction -- this is Newt Gingrich -- clearly making a distinction between the governing Democrats at the time and what they, as Republicans, would do.
Of course, all of that has been thrown at the wayside now that they've been in control. But at the time, he made a clear distinction about why Republicans would be different than Democrats, and we have been remiss and unable and unwilling to do so on our side because our Democrats were afraid of distinctions. They try to split hairs.
With the issue in Iraq, you know, we shouldn't be splitting hairs about whether we get out in six months or get out in a year or get out in two years. The discussion should be whether we stay, which is what Bush wants to do, or we get out eventually. The details can be worked out later. There's a clear distinction, and yet, Democrats are afraid to make that clear distinction.
TAPPER: I can't help but notice that in your voice and in your writings, there's a certain begrudging respect for how effective the Republicans have been -- not what they're doing or what they stand for, but their strategy and their efficiency.
MOULITSAS: Well, there's no respect of any sort for Ann Coulter. I mean, there's nothing like her on the left, so she's a whole different beast. But Rush Limbaugh is a different story.
And absolutely, they've been very effective in training their leaders, in developing their message, in delivering that message to their supporters and to the American people through their media machine and in closing their deal on election day. They run a much tighter, more-effective election machine than Democrats do. You can't help but see how effective they've been.
Just the fact that on the issues -- the American people are not with the Republican Party on issues from the war to Social Security to government services programs, Medicare, Medicaid, things like that. The American people are with Democrats, not with Republicans, yet they continue to win. Why? Because they have a very effective movement, and we have to learn from that. Not necessarily replicate it, because of the different world and times are evolving, but realize that we have to build a machine to counter what the right has built.
TAPPER: And you also happen to have -- and your book makes this very clear -- a tremendous amount of disdain for Democrats, Democratic consultants in Washington, D.C.
MOULITSAS: Absolutely. These consultants in Washington, D.C., control the election machinery. You know, Republicans, they're winning. Democrats have an election machine -- it's these consultants in Washington, D.C., and they're not winning. Yet year after year after year, the same people get hired, and they do the same sloppy work. They use the same tactics that may have worked in 1970 or 1980. They're not working in the 2000s. And that ineffectiveness gets rewarded because it's an old-boy club, a little Mafia in D.C. They don't let any outside effective consultants come in and ...
TAPPER: Who should they let in?
MOULITSAS: Oh, we have a -- there are people out in the states that are winning elections. I mean, we have Democrats that, for example, in 2004, that took over state legislatures in Colorado and Montana. And who is running those races? Who's supporting that machinery? Why does D.C. send their consultants to run races in places like Missouri and Oklahoma when the locals obviously know the local environment better? And what kind of language, what kind of tactics and strategies, what kind of framing of the issues that works locally. In fact, D.C. insists on controlling that from far away. It's a cancer on the party.
If they were winning, there would be no problem, right? I mean, that would be great. But they're not winning. Why are they getting hired again? That's the problem. It's finding the people who are winning, getting those individuals to work our races. And when we look out in the states, and we did in our book "Crashing the Gate," we saw that there were individuals that were using very innovative tactics, and that's why it was helping Democrats win in places that were not under the influence of this D.C. cabal of a corrupt and ineffective consultants.
TAPPER: What do you think is going to happen in November?
MOULITSAS: I'm actually very pessimistic about November. I know the numbers indicate that Democrats should make big gains. I think if you look at the numbers in 2004, John Kerry should've won. The numbers, I don't think, mean as much because Republicans are far more effective at motivating their voters, their supporters, to come out and vote. They have, like I said, much better election machinery.
And so, I think the numbers look fantastic. We should make some gains. I don't think we're going to take back either control of the Senate or control of the House. Then again, I've been wrong in the last two cycles, so I'm hoping that I go for zero for three in this Fall's election as well ...
TAPPER: You thought Kerry was going to win?
MOULITSAS: I thought Kerry was going to win. I thought Democrats were going to make gains in the Senate, in the House in 2002 and in 2004. I was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. So, I'm hoping I'm wrong again.
TAPPER: But do you think the American people agree with you on most issues, or is that not even the point?
MOULITSAS: I don't even begin to worry about that. It's not an issue. And in fact, I've been starting to work out what, you know, what my political philosophy is, and it's actually not necessarily in tune with the Democratic Party itself. It's a very libertarian approach to politics where we don't need government for a lot of things where government is involved in today.
TAPPER: So gun control, you don't necessarily ...
MOULITSAS: Oh, I'm very much against gun control and ...
MOULITSAS: Oh, very much so. Yes. Absolutely. But I'm very much libertarian. I mean, personally, I do not like, say, abortion. I'm very much against abortion personally, but from my libertarian leanings indicate that I'm not going to be telling people what they should or should not be doing.
TAPPER: Well, a libertarian point of view on taxes might be that there shouldn't -- there should be as few taxes as possible and few government regulations as possible.
MOULITSAS: Well, I didn't say I was a libertarian. But on government regulations, I think there's probably a lot more government regulation. I think small businesses are over-regulated. There's definitely a lot of places where we can make common ground with libertarians. Obviously, civil liberty issues, Bill of Rights type of issues, the infringement of this government on, you know, spying on people and listening into their phone conversations and the elimination of habeas corpus. A lot of these issues are really disturbing to me from the libertarian standpoint.
I think we should have, what I'd love to see is a balanced budget. I'd love to see a country that knows how to manage its finances. We're not seeing that out of the Republicans. They have control of the entire government's apparatus, and we have record deficits. I want a government that works and lives within its means.
If we want a government program, we should pay for it. And if we're not willing to pay for it, then maybe we don't need that government program.
TAPPER: Why aren't you running for office? Why aren't you running for a state legislature, for Congress?
MOULITSAS: It's -- one of the most disturbing moments I ever had in politics is I was touring the Democratic Party headquarters, and I was walking through the wing of the building that's occupied by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and it's a cubicle farm. And in that cubicle farm, there were a couple of dozen -- maybe not a couple of dozen, maybe a dozen -- Democrats, representatives. These are congressmen, these are supposedly our representatives of democracy, our exulted representatives, this is democracy in action. They were huddled over phones begging for money, and they do so hours a day.
And I can't ask my wife for a loan, you know, for money to help me buy something. I can't call up strangers and beg for money. I think it's demeaning. I think it makes a mockery of what democracy is all about. And that is a reality of running for office. I think that's why we don't have a lot of good people run for office because they have to spend eight hours a day, 10 hours a day on the phone begging people for money, and there's no way I could do anything like that.
On top of that, I'm not necessarily a policy person. I like to say that my job isn't to develop policy. There's tons -- there's hundreds, thousands of out-of-work policy wonks in the Democratic Party. My job is to help them get jobs. And I trust them to do their jobs. I don't want to sit there and pore over, you know, the kind of numbers to determine what kind of legislation would be best for the solvency of the Medicaid program. I mean, that does not interest me. And I wouldn't be a good representative if I didn't immerse myself in those type of details.
TAPPER: You make a good living?
MOULITSAS: I make an excellent living. Absolutely.
TAPPER: How much about do you make?
MOULITSAS: Good enough. I mean ...
TAPPER: I read somewhere that you said you make between, this is maybe a year or two ago, that you made between $80,000 and $100,000 doing the Web site.
MOULITSAS: To be perfectly honest, I'm not just saying this to dodge the question -- I have no idea because the money that comes in, I spend on the site. So at the end of the year ...
TAPPER: You have a nice house here.
MOULITSAS: I bought a house in Berkeley, so obviously I'm doing good enough for that. But there's no way until the end of the year, until the accountant tallies up what expense, I have no idea. Because if I decide tomorrow I want to spend, you know, $20,000 on a new comment system for the Daily Kos, which I just did, I spent $20,000 on a comment system.
TAPPER: For another comment system?
MOULITSAS: Yes. I don't need to spend that money, but I do it because I think it's what's right for the growth of the site and because I have the resources to make the site as great as a site as possible.
TAPPER: In the forward to your book, you elude to this: first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win, Mahatma Gandhi. But you're in the position right now of then they attack you.
TAPPER: And you've been getting ...
MOULITSAS: I was wondering what took them so long.
TAPPER: And you're getting a lot of heat from the New York Times' blogger Chris Suellentrop, the "New Republic." There must have been an odd moment when you picked up the New York Times newspaper and turned to the op-ed pages and David Brooks had a whole column devoted to you
MOULITSAS: If I picked up a newspaper, I guess I might have been surprised. But I haven't picked up a newspaper in years.
TAPPER: OK. But if you clicked on the link and a New York Times columnist has a column attacking you ...
MOULITSAS: There's two reactions right now as they attack me. And I'm being attacked because I think I'm symbol of the Netroots, not necessarily because I am the all-powerful person. They either say I have no influence and they attack me for that reason, which is odd, because if you no influence, why attack? Or they claim I have all this incredible power, which is simply not true.
And so what we're seeing really, I mean, the blogosphere really is so new, this people power movement is so new that nobody knows how to make sense of it. So there's a lot of oversimplification, there's a lot of generalization and there's an effort to attach leaders to it in a traditional sense, because movements traditionally had leaders attached to them.
Now what we're seeing, because of technology, that anybody can be a leader. Our, you know, YearlyKos conference was organized by a school teacher from Tennessee who had no experience whatsoever doing anything but teaching children. Yet she pulled off an incredibly professionally looking conference in Vegas for over 1,000 people. So anybody can be a leader. Technology allows that.
TAPPER: As I understand, the controversy, the accusations leveled against you by David Brooks of the New York Times and others at the New Republic and other places, is basically the following: that your partner in writing the book, Jerome Armstrong, and somebody who you used to be in business with, that there are allegations that you throw your support behind who he gets hired by.
So for instance, one day you're in favor of a Senate candidate in Ohio, Paul Hackett, then less than 48 hours [later] you throw your support to Congressman Sherwood Brown. Jerome Armstrong is working for Sherwood Brown, Jerome Armstrong is working for Gov. Mark Warner in Virginia. You surprisingly, to some people, are intrigued by his presidential candidacy even though he hasn't been [a] rather effect[ive] anti-war voice. In fact, I'm not really quite sure where he stands on the war. And basically, the accusation is that your support is up for sale.
MOULITSAS: What's the sale price?
UNKNOWN PARTICIPANT: Well, that Jerome is making money, and he's your partner.
MOULITSAS: How -- but, so Jerome makes money, so that buys me? That's a, kind of an odd -- people are stretching, people are looking for whatever hook they can to try to discredit me and the bloggers. And it's also utterly ridiculous -- this Senate race in Ohio, Jerome was working on that race from the beginning when I was supporting Paul Hackett.
And it wasn't until I saw Paul Hackett's finance numbers, finance, fundraising numbers and I realized that he wasn't raising the kind of money we needed him to raise. Why? He didn't like spending eight hours a day on a telephone. I can't begrudge him that, but that's part -- that comes with the territory of running for a race that's going to cost $20, $30 million to run. He wasn't doing the kind of work that needed to be done. I thought, 'Well, you know what? Let's have him run for that House seat again.' He ran a great House race, almost won. That would be the ideal situation, let him seize it as a politician.
And in 2010, there's going to be another shot at a Senate seat in Ohio. It had nothing to do with Jerome Armstrong . If Jerome Armstrong bought support, I would've been with Sherwood Brown from day one on that race, and I wasn't with Sherwood Brown from day one on that race. Mark Warner -- I, you know, I said I like a bunch of them. It's 2006, the election isn't until 2008, I'm not supporting anybody right now. I'm giving everybody an equal chance to make their case. Now what's happening is that people who don't support Mark Warner because they support somebody else are trying to blunt my saying Mark Warner has been an effective governor of Virginia. Because he has been an effective governor of Virginia, I'm not going to lie about it. But everybody is going to get their chance.
And I've said over and over again, and I said it at YearlyKos, that they have all of next year to make their case. And it'd be stupid, I think, to really get behind any one candidate this early in the game. Let them make their case, let them prove to Democrats why they should be the nominee, and then we can decide in early 2008.
TAPPER: Did Jerome get money as a consultant on any of these campaigns?
MOULITSAS: It has nothing to do to me.
TAPPER: He -- not one dollar of that goes to you?
MOULITSAS: No, absolutely not.
TAPPER: Not one cent is going to you?
MOULITSAS: No. And in fact, what I think they've been trying to say is, you know, if you've got such evidence, let's see it, because it doesn't exist. And -- it's, you know, you learn, you know, you talk about me being influencing, right? That's when I figured out that I'd reached a certain level in the political ecosystem where people are starting to make up stuff about me. It had no basis in reality, no basis in truth, it was just pure, unadulterated fantasy.
And, you know, what can you do? I mean this is politics, it's ugly business, it's a -- it's a contact sport. You have to have the thick skin, and you have to be able to shrug off a lot of those attacks because they really are complete and utter rubbish.
TAPPER: Does it ever hurt?
MOULITSAS: No. You know, it's interesting because as Daily Kos has grown, every kind of plateau that I've reached -- and I've reached 30,000 visitors a day and, you know, it's small for today. But, you know, every one of them kind of shocks me into -- it sort of, kind of knocks me back a little bit, and I don't know how to perceive because I, you know, every time I rise to a new level it's more incoming criticism, people care more about what you say, you have to be a little more careful of what words you use. And so there's always a kind of adjustment period.
And I've reached, you know, with this, you know, the Brooks column and things like that, there was an adjustment period. And suddenly I realized that, you know, if I turn off the computer and I have my new house I'm working on and I play piano so I work on my music and I have my silent, beautiful 2- and-a-half-year-old son and a great, incredible wife, none of that matters.
Really, it no longer affects me and -- because all they can do -- they can't make me lose my job because I am my own boss. They can't make me lose my family, they can't hurt my son, they can't do any of those things. So the things that really matter to me, they cannot touch. All they can do is scream and yell and nip at my heels. Now, it's a, you know, the last thing that bothers me today is what people say about me. I've spent the last four years throwing stones. If I can't take a few incoming, I'm in the wrong business, and it would be hypocritical of me.
So I have a problem with people making stuff up about me because I try to be very good about being truthful in my attacks. But, you know, of course I throw rocks, people are going to throw stones back, and that's part of the business. And I'm OK with that.
TAPPER: Howard Dean's former Internet director said -- and I know you talk about this in the book and you say that other people in the Dean campaign contradict it. But she said that you and Jerome were hired basically because the Dean campaign wanted your support online.
MOULITSAS: Yes, you know, Joe Trippi, who ran the campaign, basically said, you know, if this was the case, Jerome Armstrong, you know, who was my business partner at the time, was the biggest champion for Howard Dean on Netroot on the site mydd.com, and he quit. So he lost his biggest champion online by hiring our firm. And I put a big disclaimer on the site saying I work for Howard Dean, so essentially telling people, OK, you know, we can discount everything nice he says about Howard Dean because he's working for him.
If their intent was to buy our support, that was about the biggest piss-poor way to do so, and they knew that. And in fact, one of the things that Joe Trippi said is I didn't want to hire you guys because I knew that it would actually hurt us in the long run. So it was stupid. And of course it was contradicted by everybody else. And the person who made that accusation tried to get a job with our firm, and we didn't give her the job, so it was also a bad blood and bad feelings and this sordid little tale. It's really not that interesting other than to say that she made those accusations and that absolutely nobody backed them up. And there's plenty of people with enough grudges that could've, you know, hopped along and said that was true but, you know, it simply wasn't true. And not only was it not true, but it was very counterproductive. If that was the intent, it actually did the opposite.
TAPPER: Chevy Chase once said that when he was on Saturday Night Live, he heard that his imitations of President Ford hurt President Ford's feelings. And he thought at the time, well he's the president, he's got to be able to take it. And then years later, after Chevy Chase had some bad experiences under his belt, he knew what President Ford was talking about. So I guess, just on the human level, did the things that people say and write about you -- no matter how many stones you've thrown -- does it ever hurt your feelings?
MOULITSAS: No. During the transitional period, that adjustment period, it did, during that adjustment period. But once I realized that it was just words and words could not hurt me where matters to me most: my family, my job, my music, it couldn't hurt me with that. Then it really became simply just words to me. I mean, they lost all power
TAPPER: Does that embolden [you] to be mean or to other people?
MOULITSAS: No -- no, not at all. I mean, it doesn't change -- yes, I try, I try very hard not to change my approach to the what, to the doing what I do. I've always said I was successful because of my tone and my approach and my, you know, the issues I champion. And changing now because I'm under bigger scrutiny might make my life a little easier, might open me up to less attack, but that also would also mess with the, you know, the reason I've been successful.
So, I don't -- I'm at peace with my world now, you know? I, like I said, transitioned into that. But I'm at peace where I am. I accept the fact that being who I am is going to. You know, I'm a magnet for criticism, some of it fair, you know, a lot of it is fair, you know, I'm not perfect. A lot of it isn't fair. A lot of it is complete utter smear attacks and fabrications.
TAPPER: What's fair, what's been a fair criticism?
MOULITSAS: Fair criticism -- I'm going to be like George Bush who can't think of a single bad thing. You know, I know it when I see it.
TAPPER: You've made mistakes.
MOULITSAS: Oh, I've absolutely made mistakes. I mean, there's been times where I've been too harsh because a politician has said something and, you know, my reaction -- because like I said, blogging is very raw, very emotional, not edited. And it's immediate -- there's no cooling down period, right? I write, submit and I'm done. Where I attacked a politician for something that later on I think, 'Well, OK, it wasn't the good thing for them to do but I sort of overacted.' When you've got a big blog, small infraction and make a big deal out of it, sometimes I've kind of thought, 'OK, yes, maybe I should've taken a few minutes to calm down or be a little more rational about it.' So there's just been things like that, where something I've written was a little too harsh or maybe a little bit unfair.
TAPPER: Do you regret -- you sent an e-mail to some people that the New Republic got a hold of. It was about this, you know, the 'Kosola,' suppose, you know, quote unquote scandal about whether you support people because of Jerome's working for them. And,you sent an e-mail to a bunch of liberal bloggers asking them not to, not to write about it because you wanted to deprive oxygen to the story. Do you regret writing them? I mean, that would seem antithetical to everything you stand for -- talking, writing, free expression, and then here you are asking people to not talk about something.
MOULITSAS: Well, the issue is that the facts, you know, that e-mail laid out what the facts of the situation were, there's nothing there. And the fact is that some of the people that were involved in that, in this whole issue ,can't talk right now for various reasons.
TAPPER: Jerome can't talk about ...
MOULITSAS: Yes, Jerome can't talk about it because he's in -- he's in the middle of certain litigation. He can't talk about it, he's not allowed to talk about it. So he can't defend himself. So all we said -- all I said in that e-mail is if, when the time comes, he will. He'll talk about it. And then, you know, everybody can be properly defended. Right now we're not at the point what, you know, the facts really can be openly discussed. And it's not an issue, here's the fact, here's the ...
TAPPER: Did you wish you haven't sent that e-mail then?
MOULITSAS: No. I mean, this is, you know, we talk to each other. I mean bloggers, we spent, you know, dozens of e-mails a day back and forth discussing issues. What do you think about this issue, it is a big deal, no it's not a big deal.
TAPPER: Somebody leaked the e-mail.
MOULITSAS: Yes -- yes, absolutely. And, but that's fine anyway, you know, one of the things that happens when you reach the top of whatever your profession might be is that people pull out the knives. All right, you know, if you become an 800-pound gorilla of anything, people will look to try to bring you down and try to backstab you.
And,look at academia, right? I mean, everybody talks about how vicious academia is because the stakes are so small. I think blogging and the stakes might be a little bigger than academia, but still, I mean a lot of knives, the stakes aren't that big so -- so the battles can be vicious. It's human nature. It's what happens any time you have any kind of social structure, and the blogs are in a lot of ways a social structure. Some people didn't like what I said here or there, they -- I hurt their feelings or I didn't give them the proper respect -- but who knows? I have no idea how I possibly could've, might offend somebody, but it happens.
And so, somebody had a problem with it and assisted my detractors at the New Republic. And, I mean, nothing I could do about it, I wouldn't change otherwise -- the list has been reconstructed. I mean, it's been shrunk and now it's a ... I've learned now, and this is something, that there are people who I can trust. And if I need to send something that's a little more sensitive, send it to those people.
But this notion of, don't write about it, you know -- it's not, you know, here's the Web, you know, if you write about it I will, I will, I will cut your head off and kill you. It's a, you know, give us a couple months, let this kind of shake out and let the facts emerge, and when the facts emerge, you know, feel free. If you want to write about it, there's nothing I can do about it. I mean, we're bloggers, nobody controls us.
TAPPER: I wouldn't say there's nothing you can do about it because, I mean ...
MOULITSAS: There's nothing I can do about it, absolutely nothing.
TAPPER: One of the other charges leveled against you by some liberal bloggers is that you're vindictive, and that if somebody writes something that you really don't like or approve of, especially if it's about you, they might be frozen out from the ad network for the liberal -- for the blog ...
MOULITSAS: I don't run the network so I don't have anything ...
TAPPER: But you've seen these charges?
MOULITSAS: Oh, I've seen the charges. I think people are paranoid, some people are paranoid. I've never frozen -- tried to freeze somebody out. I may say, 'OK, I don't like that blogger, that guy is full of it.' Doesn't mean I'm going to tell other people freeze that person out. Everybody makes their own mind. It's a big blogosphere, there's thousands of bloggers out there. There's no way I can even begin to control this machine that exists, and I wouldn't want to.
I mean, people say nasty things about me all the time. If I try to dampen down the, that criticism, I'd have a lot of heartburn. I mean, my life would be not blogging, would be trying to do damage control, what would you want to call that? I don't have dogs that go around breaking people's kneecaps. I don't have -- I don't have my enforcers.
But one of the things, you know, one of the reasons that criticism really seems weird to me is that I don't generally link to a lot of other bloggers. It's not like I -- I'm not this different, I link to poll numbers, I link to actual analysis by political writers. I mean, this is not the sort of thing where OK, I will withhold my link to you and now you're -- you're doomed to eternal irrelevance. I mean, I don't know how I possibly could retaliate if I wanted to so-called retaliate. I mean, it seems really absurd to me.
TAPPER: But is there a risk? A lot of people commented on you at Yearly Kos, kind of being, you know, like Sinatra at the Sands. You're at a convention that is named after you. You didn't name it, but it's named after you ...
MOULITSAS: I'm trying to change that.
TAPPER: You have Democratic senators, governors wanting to meet you, wanting to meet everybody, but they definitely wanted to meet you, number one. And, here's Governor Warner throwing a $50,000 party for you and your supporters, here's -- you're getting respect. Is there a risk of you becoming too big for your britches? I'm not saying it's happened, but is this something that you've been trying to keep tabs on and try to make sure that it doesn't happen to you?
MOULITSAS: Absolutely. I mean, one of my rules is I generally don't talk to elected officials. It's kind of a firewall. I'll talk to staff if they have something of interest. I try to avoid talking to politicians altogether. I mean, to be honest, I don't really find them that interesting. If I want juicy information I, you know, I talk to staff of the politicians ...
TAPPER: You were walking around with Governor Warner.
MOULITSAS: Because they asked me to introduce him. And Wes Clark asked me to introduce him at his party, and ...
TAPPER: Hey, look, they're coming to you ...
MOULITSAS: No, I know, I know.
TAPPER: I'm not saying you're going to them.
MOULITSAS: But here's the, here's the difference though -- no, absolutely. So I think it's, one, I don't feel comfortable in that kind of limelight. I know it sounds kind of silly that, being that I, you know ...
TAPPER: You're sitting for an interview for "Nightline" ...
MOULITSAS: Right, exactly. But it's something that I have to be, you know, I got to really get kind of get prodded into doing. The other .... what I think is important, and this year at Yearly -- I don't have a say in the organizing. One of the things that I would like to see next year is requiring any potential speakers to actually be forced to ask, you know, spend a couple hours mingling with the crowd, is spending time with these people, because these are the people that are actually going to really, at the end of the day, make or break these candidates. They're the ones that -- they're all blogging, you know, so they're all writing about what they see. And these are people who have a lot of credibility in various circles, in various blog worlds and in their little ecosystem, right?
And there are personalities on Daily Kos that aren't me. There's a lot of them. And influencing them a lot of times has more credibility than influencing me because people may say, 'Oh, he's bought off or he's this or that. But oh, this is my favorite diarist on Daily Kos and he likes ...'
TAPPER: How many diarists are there?
MOULITSAS: Just about, you know, 15, 20,000.
TAPPER: 15 to 20,000 diarists?
MOULITSAS: Yes, a lot -- a lot. And so, and there's celebrities in that world and it's a little, it's its own little city. Like I said, I'm like a mayor of a city, and there's a lot of little cliques and little subcultures, a pair of subcultures on the site. It's desired, it's a sociologist's dream. I'm sure they're spending it right now. And I don't -- I can't even begin to understand it myself.
And, to me, what's important is that these elected officials talk to these people, it's that they communicate to those people. I don't care if they come up to me and want to talk to me. I want them to talk to my community. So I'm more interested in them, you know, writing diaries on Daily Kos where they're talking directly to the community as opposed to trying to set up a 15-minute meeting with me so they can try to pitch me in whatever BS agenda that they're working on.
I mean, when I talk about people power, that's really what I feel passionate about is getting them engaged and getting them motivated. And they're going to be a lot more motivated, engaged if they engage in a direct conversation with an elected official, and if I tell them this is the guy you need to be looking at.
People accuse me of being a king-maker and gatekeeper and they say, 'Well, you know, your support for Jon Tester in Montana was critical, and your support for Jim Webb in Virginia was critical.'
The reason I supported Jon Tester in Montana and Jim Webb in Virginia is because the locals, the local activists, the local bloggers, the local activists groups were really, really inspired by those two candidates. They came to me and they said, 'You know what? This the guy to watch. Pay attention -- he's incredible, he's the next rising star in our state.'
TAPPER: And these were Daily Kos diarists already?
MOULITSAS: A lot of them were, a lot of them were diarists. I feed off what the community feeds off. If they get excited about somebody, I'll get excited about that person. So that's why I got excited about Jon Tester because people were excited about him. I got excited about Jim Webb because people got excited about him. And so, I'm not the lead, I'm not the person who decides in this primary, this is the person we're going to go after.
Connecticut -- perfect example, I didn't decide that Lieberman had to go, therefore we needed to find a primary opponent. People in Connecticut took that upon themselves. They were upset. There was a lot of discontent in the Democratic party in Connecticut. They have no idea what a blog is because they are supposed to be represented by Lieberman. They haven't been. These people look for an opponent, they found Ned Lamont, they worked hard for him. And that energy inspires me to then write, follow that race very closely.
So I'm a follower. I mean, that's the irony. In a way I'm a leader, but the way I lead is by following those who are inspired by -- who I consider are true leaders.
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