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Markos 'Kos' Moulitsas on Obama, Twittering, Fighting the Blue Dogs, and the Major Changes Coming

The founder of the popular Daily Kos site discusses the growing power of the online netroots, and their upending of political gatekeepers.

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As we move forward as activists, one of the things that's really critical is to always push back conventional wisdom and also promote a positive story line. We have, as progressives, the great advantage that truth is on our side. And Republicans don't.

So how do we still help shape those narratives, especially when there's still Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and so on? One of the tools I've seen recently is the aforementioned Twitter, where you have reporters write something stupid, and people who follow that reporter immediately push back.

Jake Tapper of ABC News had an incident recently. He was slammed for something he wrote about Obama. And he started banning people from his Twitter feed and it turned into this huge outcry in the Twitter world (laughing), and he ended up backing off. He banned Talking Points Memo at one point! He banned one of the guys from the American Prospect.

But moving forward, he's got that in the back of his mind. It's not like before when he lived in his bubble, when he just ignored the letters to the editor. But now, they see what people are saying about them, they read what people are Twittering about them, and it can keep them honest. As long as we don't do what Republicans do and start making stuff up. As long as we keep to the truth, we use numbers and statistics and facts to back up our information.

We can make inferences and opinions based on those facts, but they have to be facts. And Republicans -- obviously, they pull stuff out of who knows where. And reality doesn't really support their beliefs.

The Daily Kos, Web 2.0 and Twitter

DH: So what about the Daily Kos? What's stimulating your community? How is the economic crisis affecting things, and what about Web 2.0? What about Twitter and Facebook?

MM: The Daily Kos is going strong. It's down from the election, of course, but it's up year over year, which is what's important.

But it's getting harder to run a community like that than it used to be when Bush was president. Because then, we were all on the same page: "Bush sucks." I don't think anyone disagreed with that. But, now we have power, and you have to walk that line between constructive criticism and destructive criticism.

This is something that a Paul Krugman has to wrestle with, because he straddles that line very tightly. You never quite know if he's being constructive or destructive, 'cause he's never been an Obama fan. He was a big Clinton booster in the primary. And I don't think he's ever written anything nice about Obama. So that line is a tough line sometimes, and people's perception of that line is different.

There are people who say, "You're not being tough enough on Obama, he's going the corporatist route," and then you have people who say, "Now you're just giving Republicans talking points," so you have a divided community. Makes things a little livelier sometimes. I think it's healthy. I'd rather be quibbling over how hard to criticize Obama, than being united in criticizing "President" John McCain! So it's a very good problem to have! But it's a challenge. And it's one that people like me are finding their way through.

Big Changes Ahead at the Daily Kos

DH: Are people voting up diaries that are more critical of Obama?

MM: Sometimes you have dueling diaries: "Obama sold out" and "Stop picking on Obama, he didn't sell out." To me it's a healthy debate. It's not something that I'm too worried about.