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Netroots: Online Progressives and the Transformation of American Politics (Media and Power) Paperback – July 1, 2009
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"Kerbel (Villanova Univ.) has written a lively, accessible history of the emergence of the blogosphere as a force in U.S. political life. Recommended."
"...a serious assessment of whether the netroots have had demonstrable political consequences and of what their likely long-term impact on American politics will be."
―The American Prospect
“Where Netroots really shines is as a digital ethnography. … [It is] a compelling and nuanced portrait of the netroots phenomenon. No academic account to date has been so successful at capturing how the progressive blogosphere sees itself.”
“Kerbel shows convincingly why the blogosphere matters in American politics. His analysis of conservative and progressive blogging communities explains how the left has taken greater advantage than the right of the distributed networking potential of digital media. The core argument is that the progressive netroots are positioned to use the Internet for movement building in ways that may rival how conservatives used message control in the mass media echo chamber to build their movement in decades past. This argument is well documented and nicely presented, making the book accessible for students and an important source for scholars.”
―W. Lance Bennett, Director, Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, University of Washington–Seattle
“Kerbel offers a rich and lively description of progressive politics online, with a special spotlight on blogs. A thorough and insightful account of the significance of the netroots in the evolution of American politics.”
―Bruce Bimber, University of California–Santa Barbara
“A bracing read. Kerbel not only ‘gets it,’ he explains it well―‘it’ being the netroots phenomenon that has reshaped American politics in the past decade. If you want to understand where politics is in 2009 and how it got there, read this book.”
―Nate Wilcox, coauthor of Netroots Rising
“Finally, a book that places the lefty netroots in the historical context of earlier examples of technological and political change. Such a context helps readers to see the significance of what progressives aspire to build: a new, much more democratic architecture of politics.”
―Marcy Wheeler, blogger, “emptywheel” at Firedoglake.com
"I'm really impressed with how much ground you've covered. Your work is absolutely critical to us all. I'm recommending your book to my colleagues in the departments of political science, communications, and history!"
―Christine L. Hansvick, Pacific Lutheran University
About the Author
Matthew R. Kerbel is professor of Political Science at Villanova University and author or editor of six books on politics, the mass media, and the presidency, including If It Bleeds, It Leads: An Anatomy of Television News and Get This Party Started: How Progressives Can Fight Back and Win. He worked as a radio and television news writer for outlets including the Public Broadcasting Service in New York City, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
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To pick just one example of the factual errors and badly prejudicial writing that riddle this tome, consider the following passage, from page 47:
"With a more centralized structure that is something of a throwback to the electronic media of the twentieth century, the right blogosphere is Microsoft Windows to the progressive blogosphere's open source operating system, Unix. For instance, the popular conservative blog RedState, whose interactive qualities echo those of Daily Kos, was created by a 527 group (a tax-exempt organization established to engage in political action) and is owned by a conservative publishing conglomerate whose holdings include the Evans-Novak Political Report and the Conservative Book Club."
As the man who conceived of RedState in March 2004, and co-founded it with Mike Krempasky and Ben Domenech in July 2004, I'm astonished to learn that our efforts were funded by a 527 -- instead of from our own pockets, as seemed the case at the time. We did, in fact, found a 527 later, to comply with the laws on fundraising for selected candidates -- but at no time was RedState funded or supported by anything but what we could spare from our own household budgets. This remained true until the website was purchased by Eagle Publishing (long before which I'd left the site) sometime around December 2006.
The bottom line here is that RedState, at least, was as much a bottom-up, "open source," grassroots operation as anything on the left -- and achieved its material success, leading to its corporate purchase, as such. The point that Kerbel tries to make is invalidated by the truth about the very example he chooses.
Professor Kerbel might know this if he'd done basic research. But this isn't a scholarly work. It's a shabby polemic on "the progressive left and the professors who love them." Find a friend who's received it for free -- there are plenty of them -- but don't squander your money on this inaccurate and deeply flawed effort.