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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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And, moving forward, we're redesigning Daily Kos. We're dramatically changing. We're going to empower the community with a lot more tools and the ability to do things. I'm being cryptic for now, since there will be a big reveal later in the year.

But when Daily Kos launched in 2002, and when I redesigned it to its current format in 2004, it was a fairly cutting-edge Web site. It was using the latest and greatest technologies. And now, it's years later, which in Web terms is geriatric. The site's 80 years old! Might as well be! It feels like it's 80 years old.

And I'm somebody who likes to be on the cutting edge and pushing the envelope, and I haven't pushed the envelope in several years. So I was feeling really antsy. And of course, the economy is tanking right at the moment when I'm spending a lot of money!

But we're also changing the community dynamic. So it might be a huge flop!

DH: How are the new tools Web 2.0-ish?

MM: It's all gonna be highly customizable stuff, the integration of Twitter and Digg. Buzzword, buzzword, buzzword! The idea is, I want the Daily Kos to be back in that cutting-edge mode. And maybe in five years it can be old again and I can re-imagine what it looks like.

But the current Daily Kos -- it works, it's functional, it's growing, but for me, I need a little bit more.

DH: How's the economic side of it? Are you down in advertising?

MM: I'm down horrifically. January was my first profitable January in the site's history. Usually, the first quarter is a disaster. And I always start panicking around early March. And then things always pick up and this year, I was profitable in January, so I thought, this is great and I thought we won't have this first quarter downturn. And February was death.

March was death until a couple of campaigns game through to pull us out of the gutter. But we were extremely profitable last year. And we have a significant chunk of change that we can live off. We have no debt. We've never had anybody invest in the company. We don't owe anybody anything. So it's a kind of good place to be. We have some money to play with, to ride out what's hopefully just a bad quarter, It's scary out there. Economically.

Organizations like the ACLU were big advertisers, and they had money wrapped up in [Bernie] Madoff. They had to cut their budget, they had to cut staff. So of course, the last thing they're going to worry about is advertising. Understandably so.

And we have to assume that things are going to be tough and hope for the best but assume that things are going to be the worst. Like I said, we have reserves to work from. So we're going to be fine, longer term. But that doesn't mean that I don't lose sleep over it sometimes.

DH: Are you Twittering?

MM: Yeah. As of last week. I was down at South by Southwest, and it was infective. It was all anyone could talk about . So I thought, "I could get into this." So I started last week.

DH: Big news: Markos Tweets!

MM: So I wrote a tweet. "Tweet!" -- that's as bad as "blog."

DH: It's worse!

MM: I wrote that Geithner was starting to look like Obama's [Donald] Rumsfeld. Meaning, sort of clinging to someone who looks out of their element, and doesn't seem to have the answers or the confidence. So Fox News picked it up. It was their headline: "Kos says that Geithner is Obama's Rumsfeld," which is not what I said. I guess it's just one more place where people can take my words out of context.