Attracts approximately 20 million unique visits per month
Daily Kos is a political weblog founded by Markos Alberto Moulitsas Zúniga, nicknamed “Kos” ((named after his Army nickname, rhymes with “dose”), who launched the website on May 26, 2002. He continues to maintain it from Berkeley, California, where he resides. In its first year, Daily Kos attracted more than 1.6 million unique visits and about 3 million page views. As of August 2006, it was drawing an average of some 696,500 unique visits per day, or about 20 million per month.
Mr. Zuniga, who in 2003 was retained by the Howard Dean campaign as a technical advisor, describes Daily Kos as follows: “This is a Democratic blog, a partisan blog. One that recognizes that Democrats run from left to right on the ideological spectrum, and yet we're all still in this fight together. We happily embrace centrists like NDN's Simon Rosenberg and Howard Dean, conservatives like Martin Frost and Brad Carson, and liberals like John Kerry, and Barack Obama. Liberal? Yeah, we're around here and we're proud. But it's not a liberal blog. It's a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory. … The battle for the party is not an ideological battle. It's one between establishment and anti-establishment factions. And as I've said a million times, the status quo is untenable.”
The Daily Kos front page, which is the first thing a reader sees when visiting the website, contains entries written either by Zuniga (“Kos”) or by any of about a half-dozen people to whom Kos has given front-page posting privileges. These front-page posters each serve what Zuniga calls “one-year terms.”
Apart from the front-page posts, most of Daily Kos’s content appears inside of the “diaries” (entries written by registered users, who are limited to one posting per day) and are then read and commented upon by other users. According to Zuniga, almost all Daily Kos contributors are “ordinary citizens interested in talking about and participating in the political process,” and most of them “fall on the liberal side of the U.S. political spectrum,” though “people of conservative views are welcome to come and debate.”
The Daily Kos’s claims of receptivity to political centrism have frequently been betrayed by the causes the weblog embraces and the language in which it couches its commitments. On April 1, 2004, Zuniga himself posted one of Daily Kos’s most controversial blogs to date. Titled “Screw Them,” the piece ridiculed four American private contractors in Iraq who, the day before, had been ambushed and killed (by guerrillas), mutilated and burned, dragged through the streets of Fallujah, and then publicly hung from a bridge. Zuniga’s post read: “Every death should be on the front page. Let the people see what war is like. This isn’t an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush’s folly. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.”
In April 2004, Daily Kos initiated dKosopedia, which it describes as “a collaborative project of the DailyKos community.” Modeled after Wikipedia, this is a “political encyclopedia … written from a left/progressive/liberal/Democratic point of view while also attempting to fairly acknowledge the other side's take.” All Daily Kos readers are invited to contribute to dKosopedia. As of August 2006, it consisted of 6,633 articles.
During the 2004 U.S. election cycle, Daily Kos readers donated approximately $500,000 to fifteen Democratic candidates whose campaigns Zuniga identified as being most in need of financial support. Though all fifteen candidates eventually lost at the polls, Zuniga maintained that the project had been successful in that it forced several Republican incumbents to secure their reelection by spending party money that otherwise could have remained in the proverbial Republican “war chest.”
In August 2006, John Conyers made reference to “the accumulated evidence that the Bush Administration has thumbed its nose at our nation's laws, and the Constitution itself.” Five months earlier, Conyers wrote: “I wanted to make sure all of you know about an important event in New York City … Harper's Magazine is hosting a public forum entitled ‘Is There a Case for [President Bush’s] Impeachment?’ It will be moderated by Sam Seder of Air America Radio's the Majority Report. I will be on the panel with Lewis H. Lapham, the editor of Harper's … We will be joined by Michael Ratner, the President of the Center for Constitutional Rights …”
In July 2006, Russ Feingold denounced the Bush administration for “doing so much to weaken our system of checks and balances”; for planning “to try some detainees held at Guantanamo Bay in military commissions that lacked basic safeguards of fairness”; and for allegedly believing that “it can make up its own laws.” Four months earlier, Feingold wrote: “In the four-plus years since [9/11], … [t]he President [has] exploited the climate of anxiety, misusing the trust he was given in the wake of the attacks on 9/11 to, among other things, grab intrusive powers in the Patriot Act, and take us into a war in Iraq that has been a diversion from the critical fight against terrorism.”
In June 2005, Ted Kennedy wrote that “the Bush Administration was determined to go to war in Iraq, regardless of whether there was any credible justification for doing so”; and that “the timing of the war was linked to the 2002 Congressional elections.”
In July 2006, Nancy Pelosi wrote: “On October 11, 2002, the Congress … passed legislation giving the President the authority to use force in Iraq. At the time I was a vocal critic of the war, but unfortunately my voice … was drowned out by misinformation from the administration. In making its case, the administration threatened us that if we didn't act fast, the proof of Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction would ‘come in the form of a mushroom cloud.’ We were also told that the case against the war, and the evidence of a weapons' program was, ‘a slam dunk.’ Now, three and a half years later, the American public knows what many of us believed all along, that this administration, and our president, misled us about the case to go to war.”
In January 2006, Cindy Sheehan lauded the anti-capitalist, pro-socialist World Social Forum that she was attending in Caracas, Venezuela. “I know the idea of a world where everyone lives in peace and with justice is very ‘subversive,’ she wrote, “but the theme is very close to my heart and soul. We need a new world. This one is broken.”
In August 2007, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama appeared as a guest speaker at the Daily Kos national convention. According to a New York Times report: "Mr. Obama, who has built his candidacy upon the mantra of change, received booming applause when he was introduced to the audience of more than 1,500. When the moderator mentioned that the senator turned 46 years old on Saturday, several of those gathered in the ballroom began to serenade him with 'Happy Birthday.'"
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