National Review Continues to Get It

by William Grosso

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This entry, while it mentions politics, is not about politics. I'm not particularly political, in any case. What I am is something of a politics junkie.
And, as a politics junkie who works in technology, one thing I've noticed is that conservative groups (magazines and political orgs), in general have been a bit faster on the technology uptake than the other political varieties.

Case in point: National Review has made the transition to mostly electronic form, and has done so in a measured and reasonable fashion.

They've had a weblog for quite some time. They call it the corner, and it's a refreshingly impromptu sort of place. In addition to the occasional shilling for their print magazine (charmingly referred to as "National Review On Dead Tree" or "NRODT") and some rather standard conservative fare (including a number of dismayingly dense discussions about why it's hard for Republicans to win California elections), it's contained a number of links to political debates going on around the net, hosted any number of fairly obscure discussion threads, and sports the occasional bizarre non-sequitur (yesterday, for example, it was the engimatic one line entry: "I went to high school with the dwarf king of Mordor. He was a good dude." I read the corner fairly often, and I have no idea where that came from).

In addition, yesterday they started offering National Review Magazine Online. That is, you can now buy the entire print magazine, offered as a PDF file, for a substantial discount over NRODT.

And they've introduced it well. Here's an example from one of the articles heralding the new version of their magazine.

When I first came to work at NRODT we still used manual typewriters (Royal Standards). Great machines, but time has gathered them to the passenger pigeon and the Great Auk. Join National Review in the next phase of journalism in its digital incarnation.

The point is: National Review is open to technology, and they're moving (whether they realize it or not) to an all-electronic presence.

And they're not alone. Their political compadres are all doing this too. The right wing gets the web in a way that the left simply doesn't (as far as I can tell).

And what I'm wondering is: why?

Name a left-wing publication or organization that really gets the web?


2003-09-10 23:31:43
Technology and Left v. Right
Your question about why conservatives seem to get high tech before liberals is one I asked myself when I was at the Univ. of Washington in the mid-80s. The conservative, student-run paper was using Macs and DTP when both were cutting edge, while the mostly liberal campus paper was still using typewriters (not even PCs). It was strange.

I'd suggest two causes.

First, liberalism is now the establishment and, as such, it has an almost Tory-like disdain for change. Still living in a past where TV meant three liberal broadcast networks, they've been left flat-footed by talk radio and Fox news. "Ah, if only we had Walter Concrite still telling Americans how to think" runs through their minds.

Second, I once read a conservative explain why liberals take their politics so dreadfully seriously, that they have no sense of humor. Conservatives, he pointed out, tend to have religious beliefs that provide them with a broader perspective on life. Liberals only have politics to give meaning to their lives. When that's threatened, they go a little nuts.

Thanks for the link. I'll have to check out National Review online.

2003-09-11 05:07:28
Why the right wing media has better web presence
Maybe because of the hundreds of millions of dollars they get from people who are dedicated to dismantling the government and, incidentally the American way of life?
2003-09-11 05:31:30
Fear of technology
As with any such situations, there are probably plenty of reasons. This is pure speculation, but one factor can be percieved elitism. If you go online, single mothers in project housing won't have access to you. Of course this is tosh, these days single mothers in projects even get sued by the RIAA because their 12 year old daughters high-tech IP trading desperadoes. Nevertheless technology is often considered by left wing idealogues as being the reserve of elites, and a threat to freedom.

This attitude to technology shows up in science fiction too. Technological futures tend to be protrayed as fascist states, or at least oppressive ones and therefore technology itself can be an object of fear.

Ironicaly though Brianna LaHara did have access to the internet despite her less than ideal circumstances, it realy did turn out to be an instrument of repression in the hands of a music industry that is so inept the only way they can make money using internet is through the courts.

Simon Hibbs

2003-09-11 05:44:22
Why the right wing media has better web presence
So a restrictive and all-intrusive government is the "American way of life"?

I thought that was the Soviet way of life.

2003-09-11 05:52:50
Fear of technology
If the kid had not broken the law she'd not have gotten into trouble.

The technology allowed her to break the law, as well as allowing law enforcement (in this case aided by that typically American person of the vigilante (in guise of the RIAA)) to track down the criminal and take remedial action.

It is a socialist way of thinking to consider stealing IP not to be a crime. Sadly the leftists have gotten such a stranglehold on society that their warped ideas of right and wrong seem to be accepted as normal.

2003-09-11 06:54:40
Left vs. Right
You mean the Dean campaign is right wing.

I'm sorry, but I have trouble taking this thread seriously.

2003-09-11 07:19:51
Left vs. Right
Not to mention the site.

I would say that the left has embraced the online media far more than the right, particularly if you look beyond the corporations.

2003-09-11 07:24:30
Not just the right
Oh come on, The Nation ( was started in 1865, which I believe was two years BEFORE the
invention of the typewriter. The Internet Archive's Wayback
machine has articles from the site starting in 1996, which
point to things like streaming audio. One can read selected articles from the print edition, web-only features, email news updates, and find links to the blogs of some columnists.
Subscribers can read the whole issue online (screw reading
a PDF on the screen, give me HTML and a 'format for
printer' link). And everybody else can read about half of
the articles (usually the more important ones). I'm sure
the National Review (a very well done pub by all accounts)
has a great web site, but I don't think this 'issue' can be
fairly politicized.
2003-09-11 07:24:54
Technology and Left v. Right
Obviously it didn't occur to you that the liberal campus paper probably didn't have the startup budget that the conservative, student-run paper had (who probably had a grant from a rich right-wing organzation, designed to spread the word).

Liberals have no sense of humor? This is from a branch of politics (right-wing Fox) who sues Al Franken for being funny?

If you were any better informed, you'd be merely ignorant.

2003-09-11 07:46:43
So the biggest grassroots
movement on the internet is not run by howard dean but instead by some right wing wacko.

I swear blogs are worthless* and nothing more than a "Dear diary..." whose first six letters begin with ""...


*99.9999 percent of them anyway....

2003-09-11 08:03:51
Thank you
I hadn't realized the entire content of the nation was on line.

I wasn't trying to politicize an 'isse', I was trying to find out whether an observation was true. Counterexamples are good things.

2003-09-11 08:03:57
The Dean Campaign
I realize that Howard Dean is running for president, and that he's using the internet to solicit funds. And that he has a weblog.

My point was not that Howard Dean doesn't exist but that, when it comes to first-uses of technology, and when it comes to frequent users of new technology, the right wing tends to lead the way.

Sorry you found it worthless.

2003-09-11 08:06:29
Off topic
The topic today is adoption of web technologies as a function of location on the political spectrum.

Whether or not downloading an MP3 is creeping socialism is really off-topic.

2003-09-11 08:08:12
Please. No Insults
"If you were any better informed, you'd be merely ignorant" is a cute comment.

But it's not particularly productive, and insulting random people on the net is not recommended in any book of etiquette I've ever read.

Please refrain from insulting people in the future.

2003-09-11 08:59:15
Not just the right
I don't believe the point is when paper X appeared online - most have been in some fashion or another for quite a while now.
'screw reading a PDF on the screen ' - uh, see, this is part of the whole 'gets it' discussion which folks who 'print out the online version' don't. That's not using the medium to its advantage. It's not about the endless need to waste paper (why spend the money on ink when buying the paper is probably cheaper? Just to be wasteful?) but doing things like putting it onto a PDA and reading it during a commute with no paper wasted.
2003-09-11 11:08:50
Technology and Left v. Right
This is a good point, though. Right-wing efforts, whose interests are more likely to reflect those of wealthy potential patrons, have an easier time raising funding than left-wing efforts. There are plenty of Richard Scaifes out there. Somebody had to pay for the Macs at that campus magazine; "cutting edge" was even more expensive then than it is now, especially on a student's budget.
2003-09-11 11:44:44
Let's not forget
I agree, the right wing is rich and can afford new technologies, cushy think tanks, etc. while the liberals and the left wing can't. However, I do take hope (yes, I'm pink) with the success of They're doing good stuff and making an impact.
2003-09-12 08:16:37
As usual- the Left is Divided

Hi, I think a part of the issue is that the right can be characterized as two or three major factions that agree on core issues, while the left is fragmented into multiple divisive tribes ( race, gender, sexual-preference, ecologist, socialist (there are some left) and anarchist.

As a result, it's hard to get the left to unite on anything, never mind an approach to technology. Living in NY (left central) you can easily rub shoulders with an anti-Tech old school Lincoln Brigade Upper Westsider, an "everything organic" blogging writer Park Slope and everything in-between. Each has a completely different reaction to technology.

For example, the left almost NEVER talks about Open-Source and it's organizing potential. They want to talk about the "digital divide" but never about the most effective means of lowering entry cost. Or educating.

The right, being pro-business AND pro-status quo, of course embrace all of these universally. There are no televangelists shouting about "turning off the computer".

On the other hand, while the right-wing media gets it, the left has been better at using technology as an organizing tool- witness the anti-WTO mobs, Howard Dean and the vote-swapping between Gore and Nader voters.

2003-09-12 10:54:36
It's because conservatives stay on message
Conservatives have always been better about organization and messaging simply because conservatives usually have access to something more important than $ and that is free time.

For example many conservative families have stay-at-home mothers or senior citizens who generally have time to do things like call their congress reps or write hand-written letters. Which while this tech stuff is fun, it doesn't yet beat the physical presence (which is in part why the tech crowd does so bad in politics, most of the world hasn't caught up with us yet :).

For a liberal example of National Review (from a tech perspective) -- I'd point to His site in particular doesn't have alot of stuff, but the links usually get you to sites that are using the web to explore the possibilities of having many voices out there (for example recently was the 10 most underreported stories of 2003).

2003-09-12 11:04:39
As usual- the Left is Divided
I respcetfully disagree with your analysis. As for fragmentation, I can eaisly think of half a dozen right fractions to compare to your list, although in both our cases, there is bound to be overlap. Let's see: religious right, neocons, libertarians, isolationists, free-market types, and the regular traditionalists. I think people come to political philosphies in a varity of ways, and often alliances are ephemeral.

As for your open source example, I've found that the hard core political press hardly ever talk about open source, but in a counter example, my first exposure to Linux, in 1998, was an endorsement by Ralph Nader. Go figure.

2003-09-12 12:13:04
Another counter example
Salon seems to get the web just fine.
2003-09-13 10:02:32
Technology and Left v. Right
> once read a conservative explain why
> liberals take their politics so dreadfully
> seriously,

Perhaps this was Dinesh D'Souza in Letters to a Young Conservative? I recall reading something like that in there.

> National Review online

I agree that this is an excellent site. The search engine actually produces useful results, which is nice.

2003-09-13 10:05:45
Technology and Left v. Right
> Right-wing efforts [...] have an easier
> time raising funding than left-wing efforts

I'm not sure about this... seems like there are plenty of left-wing rich folks in Hollywood and other liberal havens. There are plenty of Michael Moores out there.

2003-09-13 22:31:43
Technology and Left v. Right
"the liberal campus paper probably didn't have the startup budget that the conservative, student-run paper had (who probably had a grant from a rich right-wing organzation, designed to spread the word)...."

Writiing as a college student at a large public university, I have to say bull****.

Liberal campus papers don't need outside funding when they receive funding from student government (which is funded out of tuition money by state law ). The agency representing left-wing views at my university has a budget of $60,000 while the conservative agency receives $5,000. The process for receiving outside donations is so byzantine and arcane that no one bothers fund-raising from outside sources.

Also conservatives do not go out and destroy entire print runs of the newspapers of their ideological opponents. It is well documented how that has happened to conservative newspapers at various universities when their opponents disagree with an article in their papers. The view of the leftist students appears to be "freedom (of speech) for me, but not for thee."

2003-09-14 08:03:22
"Dwarf King of Mordor"
Mr Grasso, you said in your article that you have no idea what the "I went to high school with the dwarf king of Mordor. He was a good dude." remark means. If you read the "Well, I Feel Better" entry immediately before (i.e. below) that post, it will explain the "non-sequitur"

2003-09-14 08:13:13
Another counter example
If slitting a main artery of their investor's bank accounts is get(ting) the web just fine, yea, Salon gets it.
2003-09-14 08:13:18
"Dwarf King of Mordor"
You're right; how did I completely miss that ?

2003-09-14 08:44:27
McCain, too
Argue if you will about how conservative he is or is not (for my money, a Reagan Republican who's tough on defense and has a Hamiltonian-dislike for concentration of power in few hands is a conservative, but that's just me), but McCain would certainly seem to be part of this trend of early adopters. For those who forget, it's his 2000 campaign website that created the mold which Dean's internet team proudly proclaims that they follow.
2003-09-14 09:58:39
The New Republic
I've been a subscriber to TNRD (The New Republic Digital) for several months now. Perhaps it's just that the left doesn't have quite the same obsession with blowing its own horn?
2003-09-14 10:41:41
Let's not forget
"the left wing can't [afford think tanks, etc.]"

Oh, come on - there's a huge amount of money going into left-wing causes -- think Ford Foundation, not to mention the vast endowments of virtually every large university.

2003-09-14 11:00:01
Technology and Left v. Right
This is a close approximation to left-wing and right-wing funding in today's campuses. Indeed, the default ideology of the campus is left-wing. I could be wrong, but there seems to be more support, financial and otherwise, extended to liberal groups than to conservative ones. It is often the conservatives that sue and win to get equal funding and/or recognition from the campuses.
2003-09-14 12:41:30
Let's not forget
You can't be serious- that was clearly not the intent of the article you're 'responding' to, and is also clearly false.


Certainly- please- nobody should forget I point people to it all the time- they're a great negative example. Full of 'reasoning' and non-sequiturs just like yours!

2003-09-14 12:43:27
So the biggest grassroots
"some right wing wacko"

clever! Thoughtful! Thanks for living up to the lefty stereotype!

2003-09-14 15:16:43
Why We Get It
Being the outgroup among the chattering classes has forced conservatives to seek hard data and more densely reasoned material, and the web is ideal for this. While I also believe that hard data and close reasoning will lead you to conservative interpretations, my observation might stand even if that is a mere prejudice on my part. If a time comes that a conservative outlook becomes the default among the clever, the liberal outgroup might then have to sharpen their swords and thus, will likely embrace newer technologies.
2003-09-15 09:18:53
Another counter example
Maybe it's just the investor's that don't get it then. ;)

I wasn't aware of the financial difficulties you alluded to when I posted the original comment. I think Salon would be better off if they switch to, or supplement their subscription system with a gift based one.

2003-09-17 04:54:12
Try The American Prospect
They do a good job of dribbling their paid print content online slowly enough to not dissatisfy the paying customers, and the group weblog only gets better.

They also made the intelligent decision to dump their discussion boards, which weren't too interesting. I don't know their reasoning, but I suspect something like:

much heat + little light + much maintenance = why?

Give it a look:

The American Prospect

2003-12-25 09:22:58
Why the right wing media has better web presence
Maybe the conservatives are better organized, less diffferentiated on the issues, more concentrated on getting their message out, more unified on a platform of established American values and generally show more espirit de corps than the left.
2003-12-25 09:31:16
As usual- the Left is Divided
There may be many different parts of the whole conservative movement, but each is squarely in support of less government and (I believe) would back any conservative candidate (there seems to be only one at this time, Pres. Bush). This unity is lacking on the left to back a candidate.
We saw the same issues with the many challengers in, libertarian, Ross Perot et. al. However, the left has not unified support for any one candidate, and shows no signs of doing so any time soon. I think this will be their undoing.
2003-12-25 09:38:37
McCain, too
I agree with your point. However, I think Hamilton was a Federalist along with John Jay and James Madison. I think you are referring to Jefferson who was so opposed to concentration of power. I Refer to Hamilton's writings in "Taxation: National Supremacy,Necessity and Propriety" and "A National Government for a New Nation", that offer a strong federal presence in support a new "aristoi".
2005-11-22 09:45:10
President Bush
I'm just a few months shy of 60 years old And I have never seen such disrespect for a president like I am now. I' ashamed of Sens. Clinton and her facial exspressions and Sen. Schumer. When I found out that our Presisent was constantly praying to make thr right decisions and also encouraging the staff to do the same, I knew that he was theright person. All of the things that have been thrown at him: the twin towers etc.
In the bible there is a statement that those who have the most should be helping those with less than we do. They should be helped and we are responsible to do that. I had 10 years in the Army from late 1964 and have tried to reup without any luck. Peace be with you Mr.O'Reilly. One request: Could you help some of the quests to stop interrupting. I have only 1/2 of one ear and no other ear. Thank you in advance. Greg Di Maio