For almost two years, I’ve been a regular diarist on Daily Kos. That ended yesterday. I’m out of there. My username there was “Norbrook” if anyone’s curious. I was a regular commenter, made the Recommended Diaries list every now and then, had “trusted user” status, and so on. I tried to be thoughtful and analytical most of the time. Like many, every now and then I’d let my irritation slip, but it didn’t happen often. I liked the site, I was proud of my contributions to it, and for a long time, was proud to be a member.
My feelings began to change about five months ago. As the battles over the health care reform legislation heated up, there were several schools of thought battling each other. Things started getting tenser and tenser. Then came the NY-23 special election. While there was reason not to be happy with the person selected as the Democratic candidate for the House, and the way he was selected, it was discouraging – infuriating, really – to see Markos for all intents and purposes root for the Republican. It wasn’t an “endorsement,” but it was the next best thing to one. Despite the active discouragement on the site towards that race, I stayed on, arguing and debating. After it was over, and as the Senate HCR debate heated up, I managed to hold on, despite becoming more and more discouraged by the tone. It just seemed to be drifting into a purity war, that it was more interested in enforcing the notion of purity than anything else. The tolerance for diarists paid by other sites, and the active encouragement of personality cults around them was a disturbing trend. I tried to ignore as much of it as I could. I’d post a diary every now and then, and when I did go to the site, it was more likely to go to one of the community diaries than anything else. As frustrated and often angry as I was by what was happening, I tried to keep going. Last night was the final straw.
Yesterday evening, I came back from an evening out with friends, and checked in. What I saw on the front page stunned me. Kos had a story up, attacking a post on another blog. It read as an attempt to not accept blame for some of the negative impacts the blogs are having on the political discussion, and shaping the opinions of the media – and then the public. He basically denying all the assertions he’d been making for years about politcal blogs. That was bad enough, but there was a diary that had been promoted to the front page. It was a slanted piece, using out of context news items to attack the President. There were other stories by front pagers with similar slants. It was the moment when I realized that Daily Kos had jumped the shark as far as I was concerned. It was no longer a site about electing more and better Democrats. A decision had been made. Daily Kos was going to be a purity site. Pragmatism was not something they were going forward with. It wasn’t overtly stated, but I do have a brain. If it wasn’t obvious before, there was a big, heavy slap to the head to get it through.
That’s Markos’ decision. It’s his site, and he gets to determine the direction and tone of it. It’s apparent he’s made his decision, and he has to live with it. For myself, I don’t agree with it. I recognize that I have no power to change the decision, so I did what I do have the power to do. Leave. I don’t have to give them advertising revenue by visiting the site, I don’t have to give them traffic, and I don’t have to share my opinion there. I have other outlets – this one included. It’s saddening to me, because I will miss some of the people there. But that does not change things. I don’t belong there anymore. I can’t support the direction the site has taken. It no longer represents my beliefs or philosophy, so I see no reason to continue to participate there. Someday I might return, but for now – it’s time to leave.