Monday, September 05, 2005

Comparative relief-blogging

By way of several other sites, I came across this post by the Commissar on the Political Diktat: Bloggers on Hurricane Katrina. It shocked me at first that there could be such a discrepancy between those on the Left and those on the Right. And since I don't consider myself that right-wing (especially in the American sense), I became sceptical. After all, aren't these posts rather random samples? Surely the actual larger context does not show such a discrepancy, and calls for donations have been about even. So I decided to do a little (semi-scientific) investigating. I took the first two blogs on either side - Wonkette, Daily Kos, Instapundit, and Power Line - since it seems that they're at roughly equal positions in their respective camps, and are relatively equal in notoriety. I looked through all of the posts going back through September 1st, since that is about the time that the need for donations became apparent (and made it easier to go through blog archives). I counted and recorded those posts that called for donations or volunteers, or had links to donation sites. I tried to keep that definition as narrow as possible, but there may be some quibbles with my results. Here they are (and yes, I do know that I have too much time on my hands today):

Wonkette: 4 posts mentioning donations or benefit events (including links to the Truth Laid Bear donation log site and Instapundit. However, one of those links is questionable, since it's mainly used to make fun of Bush and his dog)

Kos: 4 posts mentioning donations or with links to donation sites

Instapundit: 9 posts mentioning donations or calls for volunteers (including a huge list of dozens, possibly hundreds, of sites for making donations, and another post with a link to's housing contribution site)

Power Line: 1 link calling for donations and another of an excerpt of an article asking for clothing donations
As you can see, the Right seems to come out a little better, although much of that is due to Glenn Reynolds personal efforts. However, the discrepancy grows when I looked further. First, all of the blogs contain ads linking to donation sites. Both Instapundit and Power Line have banners to Mercy Corps, while Wonkette has an ad for the Red Cross and Kos has a banner for the Red Cross. However, the Wonkette ad is a small text ad overshadowed by other banners. And the Kos ad is truly fascinating, since instead of mentioning the Red Cross, it is for something called the "Liberal Blogosphere for Hurricane Relief". So presumably if you want to contribute through the link, you should be someone who only supports liberal blogs.

The discrepancy also grows when I looked at the nature of the other posts on each blog. Most of the hurricane-related posts on Wonkette and Kos are vitriolic attacks on the Bush administration, along with some more constructive criticism of the relief effort's failures. Most of the hurricane-related posts on Instapundit and Power Line are either explanations (or apologias, depending on your interpretation) for relief effort problems, or constructive criticism of the administration. It seems as though many on the Left have let their hatred of Bush so overwhelm them, that they cannot take time off to focus on more worthy endeavours. More than a few times while scanning the posts, I found myself again hoping that they would just shut up (I think I may have to include myself soon, but people just keep saying stupid things). Of course, some of the posts on the Right blogs had me hoping the same, but they were the exception rather than the rule. Overall, the tones of the Left blogs were far less complimentary (to the blogs themselves I mean) than the tones of the Right blogs. I think these leading blog-pundits on the Left had better start looking in the mirror and asking if their approaches are benefiting their fellow citizens and their country at large. Because from my perspective, they're not, and that problem could further damage the Democratic appeal leading into next year and 2008.

One more thing. A little more empirical measurement of the response from the readers of the four blogs. From the Truth Laid Bear log of blog donations (which currently has 1738 blogs of all persuasions on its list): Wonkette: $75; Kos: n/a; Instapundit: $184,825; Power Line: $12,336. (Big Tent is not on the list, so I'm feeling the guilt myself)


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