We are all centrists now

Reader JK sends along a link (abstract here; full pdf here) to a study of the differences between the left and right blogosphere. Their main findings:

Sites on the left adopt more participatory technical platforms; are comprised of significantly fewer sole-authored sites; include user blogs; maintain more fluid boundaries between secondary and primary content; include longer narrative and discussion posts; and (among the top half of the blogs in our sample) more often use blogs as platforms for mobilization as well as discursive production.

The study was done in 2008 and I suspect that there is a bit more mobilization and calls to action on the right now than there was then, so the differences now may not be as great.

I’d like to point out that Balloon-Juice was one of the few blogs that was classified as “center”.

88 replies
  1. 1

    Blogwhore Alert!!

    There were some other interesting findings in the study. I read part of it earlier today and plan to read all of it later on.

  2. 2
    ellaesther says:

    As this is one of the few places on Cyberearth where the disdain for our own professed party is often as powerful as that for the party which we officially disdain, I would say that makes us “centrist.”


  3. 3

    While that seems to be a good breakdown on the difference between the two sides, the differences can still be plausibly viewed in the abstract (although one can accuse another of being simplistic). Nonetheless, one of the main differences is that, on the whole, those of us on the left tend to learn the lessons from the past and to remember to be cynical when history begins to repeat itself.

    We’re also not as prone to parrot left wing talking points. In other words, we retain a greater capacity to think for ourselves. Then again, there’s the case of pro-Obama Daily Kos, which is becoming more and more of an embarrassment to the left.

    We also tend to be more cynical of all media, whereas the right wing is cynical and contemptuous of all but the most farthest right wing media.

    Anyway, just got back online for the first time since early this morning and I was hoping to catch any of the several people who’d helped me through my difficulties today. I thank you one and all if you’re reading this.

  4. 4
    Cain says:

    What are we now? The reality based blog? Or is it.. Obama Juice? We support presidenting while black!


  5. 5
    SGEW says:

    Balloon-Juice was one of the few blogs that was classified as “center”.

    That Overton Window just can’t keep still, eh?

  6. 6
    Anne Laurie says:

    I’d like to point out that Balloon-Juice was one of the few blogs that was classified as “center”.

    Now that’s just RUDE!

    … Oh, wait, I thought they said “centrist”. Phew, nobody with a decent sense of self-worth would want to be classified with such “centrists” as Broder, Brooks, or Friedman. But I would argue that Balloon Juice is not “center” so much as “all over the godsdamned map”, which is a different thing entirely.

    P.S. I didn’t start commenting here until the second half of 2008, or front-paging until mid-2009, so I can’t really take any blame credit for the study period, but still

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:

    @ellaesther: As far as I know, Democrats everywhere hate the Democratic party.

  8. 8
    Joseph Nobles says:

    In other words, this blog is Ground Zero for Friedman’s Green Tea Party. Let us grasp the reins of power, comrades!

  9. 9
    mclaren says:

    Well, another slight difference is that the left blogs tend not to, you know, have a massive ban of everyone who mentions a particular candidate. Like, say, Red State banning everyone who even mentioned Ron Paul, for example.

    The Hillary-vs-Barack stuff got kind of heated back in ’08 but I don’t recall any left blogs auto-banning every post that ever mentioned Hillary or Obama (as the case may be, depending on which candidate they favored).

    Epistemic closure at work once again. Lock out all dissenting voices and you’re left with no one to point out the errors in the groupthink mindset.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    eastriver says:

    “center”? SNORT

    /shooting Dr Pepper out nose, onto screen

  12. 12
    aimai says:

    Golf clapping, over here, for Joseph Nobles perfect imitation of Friedman’s style: grasping the reins of power for a tea party at ground zero!


  13. 13
    DougJ says:


    I have exactly the opposite reaction: I like the Kos front-page much more than I used to do.

  14. 14
    Warren Terra says:

    Look, I love me some Balloon Juice, but how could it possibly be classified as “center”? Sure, there are people to the left of the Balloon Juice consensus, and people to the right of it. But it’s a partisan blog. Not completely knee-jerk, perhaps, and always willing to skewer the failings of its own party – but then a willingness to expose their own failings has always been a feature, and also sometimes been a bug, in the Democratic party. And I tend to agree with the Balloon Juice consensus – but I’d never call it “centrist”. Indeed, I’m not sure what “centrist” even means anymore, except perhaps for those few blogs that, like the much-diminished Obsidian Wings, have front pagers of widely varying ideological stripes.

    Maybe, maybe their survey period contained a fair bit of when John was recovering his sanity and when the avowedly conservative (though definitely not Republican) Michael D. was front-paging here?

  15. 15
    Church Lady says:

    Well, the study was done in 2008. A review of 2009 and to-date 2010 might just move it to the left a tad.

  16. 16
    NobodySpecial says:


    /shakes head

    You’ll get a talking to from the BJ Purity Police soon, I think.

  17. 17
    Mike Kay says:


    They say TPM and WashingtonNote are left, not center.

    They say talkleft, Taylor March, MYDD, and correntewire are left, not PUMA right.

    They say RealClearPolitics is center and not right.

    They say JonSwift is right, not a parody of the right.

    Though, they correctly list Mickey Kaus as right wing.

  18. 18

    I would say that Balloon Juice is moderately left of center on most issues and answers to solving issue based problems. But very center on process, if center is the right word. Maybe sane would be better, comparatively speaking. Not speaking of goofy moi, of course.

  19. 19
    ellaesther says:

    @MikeJ: Well, then, it’s all there in the headline!

  20. 20
    Mike Kay says:

    the same way there is a difference btwn libertarian and conservative, there’s a difference btwn populist and liberal.

    A lot of liberal blogs have gone populist, which in a relative measure can make liberal blogs look centrist.

  21. 21
    Yutsano says:

    This thread of course just screams for this:


  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    I would say that Balloon Juice is moderately left of center on most issues and answers to solving issue based problems. But very center on process, if center is the right word.

    I think this is a fairly accurate summation of the current state of play here. Also pet obsessed too.

  23. 23
    PeakVT says:

    Who knew skull-fucking a kitten would be considered centrist?

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    Who knew skull-fucking a kitten was centrist?

    David Broder.

  25. 25
    Bnut says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I gotta think cats are Republicans. Mine’s name is Putin, tells you what I think of the species.

  26. 26
    mcmillan says:

    @Yutsano: Good choice, though I think the current state needs a rewrite with the clowns to the right of me and jokers on the left

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bnut: Cats are more glibertarian.

  28. 28
    WereBear says:

    @Bnut: Hey! Cats are NOT Republicans.

    If anything, they are Real Libertarians. Well, Hedonists. But they believe in it for everyone.

  29. 29
    Allan says:

    There goes the neighborhood.

  30. 30
    slag says:

    I’d like to point out that Balloon-Juice was one of the few blogs that was classified as “center”.

    Where does that fit on the Italian v. tire rims and anthrax spectrum exactly?

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @WereBear: Maybe they would be if they could operate the can opener themselves.

    Why else do you think Tunch hasn’t killed Cole yet?

  32. 32
    HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist says:

    You know how rightards will characterize this: “By asserting that Balloon Juice is centrist, the radical professors who authored the study are attempting to make their own marxist agenda more acceptable.”

  33. 33
    SectarianSofa says:


    I don’t hate them, I just don’t want to enable them.
    And my other cliche is “power corrupts” — with that in mind, even if they’re doing ok now (or at this moment, or whenever), I expect them fail to police themselves at some point soon (or also, e.g., this moment, or whenever).

  34. 34
    Tim P. says:

    Is there even such a thing as a centrist? Maybe in the sense of genuine soshialist types on the left, non-corporate controlled democrats (basically the sane pragmatists ranging from Feingold to Reid) in the center and everyone further right (the corporatists and tribalists) as the rightwing.

  35. 35
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    They say RealClearPolitics is center and not right.

    Wow. I’m not gonna have time to read it through, but that’s freakin’ weird. Doesn’t RCP self-identify as right?

  36. 36
    mr. whipple says:

    In other words, this blog is Ground Zero for Friedman’s Green Tea Party. Let us grasp the reins of power, comrades!

    Let’s not. :)

  37. 37
    SectarianSofa says:


    Who’s embarrassed? I don’t know — I like Dailykos, though I read it probably only two or three time a week. So maybe there is embarrassing stuff in there.
    But it’s not like it’s Sullivan’s blog, which I do read often, but have a hard time recommending because of all the, er, idiosyncrasies.

  38. 38

    @Omnes Omnibus: Thank goodness there IS a can opener gap.

  39. 39
    Billy K says:

    I’d like to point out that Balloon-Juice was one of the few blogs that was classified as “center”.

    Soros don’t write checks to “center” blogs.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @WereBear (itouch): For now.

  41. 41
    TBogg says:

    So this just confirms that you guys are on Rahm’s payroll.

    I knew it.

  42. 42
    Bnut says:

    Where there is an Overton window, a cat will be looking out of it.

  43. 43
    Mike Kay says:

    Tragic news to report:

    Sandra Bullock has filed for divorce.

  44. 44
    Yutsano says:

    @TBogg: We’ve been discovered. Start the paper shredders and mark the target for removal.

  45. 45
    Martin says:

    Wait, we’re center? This country is so fucked.

  46. 46
    Bnut says:

    Can a man get an open thread? I’ve got some food related topics I need discussed.

  47. 47
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TBogg: You are only accusing people here to cover for your own sins. Classic Rovian technique.

  48. 48
    Yutsano says:

    @Bnut: :: flexes gastronome muscles ::

    I think every thread is an open thread on BJ.

  49. 49
    mr. whipple says:


    We’re the radical center.

  50. 50
    MikeJ says:

    @Martin: We’re centrists who call for the nationalizing of investment banks and execution of bankers.

    I wonder what the radicals want?

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MikeJ: Unicorns and ponies.

  52. 52
    Tom in TN says:

    platforms for mobilization as well as discursive production

    All we need are miniskirts and go-go boots.

  53. 53
    rob! says:

    I’d say the sheer number of Brick Oven Bill comments we’ve all had to wade through has dragged BJ over to the “center” by a couple of microns. Sort of like how GCC is melting the polar ice caps, although BOB is much more annoying.

  54. 54
    Yutsano says:

    @rob!: Our Overton window has been nudged. Push it back, man, push it back!

  55. 55
    Libraries and Whirled Peas For All says:

    I pledge of allegiance to the swag of the conglomerated states of Amerika. And to the republicans for which Fox News stands. One nation under Gold. Deeply divisible with no Liberty and Injustice for those without serious coin.

    The beatings will continue till the morale improves

    This is why every day should be “Bring your gun to work day”

    First some Al Stewart:


    CEO’s do not steal – they “ACQUIRE”

    Martha Stewart – gals done everything including jail time


  56. 56
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: Property is theft. Does that help?

  57. 57
    jeffreyw says:

    @Bnut: Did someone say food?

  58. 58
    Yutsano says:

    @jeffreyw: I think he’s going to be respectful and wait for the open thread. He’ll learn the ways of BJ soon enough.

  59. 59
    jeffreyw says:

    Oh Joy! Not only is it Tunch’s birthday (All praise to His Tunchness)-it is Hummer Arrival Day!

  60. 60
    jeffreyw says:

    @Yutsano: Like the vultures say when they run out of patience: “Fuck it, let’s kill something”.

  61. 61
    Martin says:

    @Yutsano: Open thread is a lie.

  62. 62
    geg6 says:

    Center? Bwahahahaha, riiiiight.

    And I just can’t go with the GOS bashing in this thread. The front page is good for the most part. Better than most, that’s for sure. Now if you’re talking about the diaries, that’s a whole other question. I think I might have read maybe one or two in the last year and a half because they’re so batshit crazy. And for FSM’s sake, never ever read the comments because the stupid there will give you third degree burns.

    And if I sound a bit cranky, that’s because I am. Went to the dentist today because a molar that had previously had a root canal and crown was bothering me. By the time I left, I had a root canal and temporary crown on the tooth in front of the sore one and the sore one was a gaping hole. The dentist and I chose extraction instead of a second root canal since his opinion was that I’d be back in a year or two for the extraction even if we did the root canal. The right side of my face is so swollen that if I cover the left side of my face, I now know what I’d look like if I gained about 75 pounds.

    I hate fucking dentists.

  63. 63
    Yutsano says:


    I hate fucking dentists.

    I’d agree with your premise, but mine is a hottie. Tends to take a lot of the edge off the pain when he’s poking around with hooks in my mouth.

  64. 64
    slag says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: There’s an Ann Coulter ad at the top of this very page. So, I’m thinking that’s not gonna do it for us. You could start a chorus of every Marx quote ever recorded, sprinkle a little Guevara into the melody, and crescendo with some Farrakhan and Malcolm, and maybe you’d score us a replacement Bill Kristol ad. Maybe.

  65. 65
    DougJ says:


    Finally — I was waiting for someone to say that! That was pretty much the point of this post.

  66. 66
    John Cole says:

    I don’t think we have shifted farther to the left since 2008. The Republicans have just gotten crazier and more fanatical, so we only seem left wing.

  67. 67
    mr. whipple says:

    I hate fucking dentists.

    No nitrous for you, bucko.

  68. 68
    Fern says:

    @John Cole: I think that is true of a lot of what passes for the left in your country.

  69. 69
    Bnut says:

    I was hoping someone had an awesome Key Lime Cake recipe to share with me. The gf’s birthday dinner is tomorrow, and the only ones I seem to find are made with pre-fab cake mix. It will be accompanying a fruit stuffed pork tenderloin, roasted squash with ali oli and a fresh salad.

  70. 70
    Cain says:


    I’d agree with your premise, but mine is a hottie. Tends to take a lot of the edge off the pain when he’s poking around with hooks in my mouth.

    So is my dentist, but then I’m married to her. So I’m a bit prejudiced.


  71. 71
    Yutsano says:

    @Bnut: You ask, I provide:


    If that wasn’t going to work I was gonna suggest doing a homemade lemon cake recipe and go from there.

  72. 72
    Bnut says:


    Key limes are a bitch. So small and seedy. It’s gonna take 100 limes to get a half cup of juice lol. My ragged cuticles will not be happy.

  73. 73
    Yutsano says:

    @Bnut: If I were you dude I’d buy the juice. It affects the flavor very little and your cuticles will still respect you in the morning. Or split the difference and do half fresh half bottled.

  74. 74
  75. 75
    Anne Laurie says:

    @John Cole:

    I don’t think we have shifted farther to the left since 2008. The Republicans have just gotten crazier and more fanatical, so we only seem left wing.

    Speak for yourself, dude. But if you keep giving people like me the keys, we’re gonna do our damndest to drag the “concensus” that little bit further left every time!

  76. 76
    Chad N Freude says:

    @John Cole: I think both propositions are true. The Republicans have gone way beyond the qualifications for entry into Bedlam, but I perceive more people commenting leftwards than was the case a couple of years ago.

    Everybody wins!

  77. 77
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Anne Laurie:While the census may indeed be a con, as so many wingnuts seem to think, I believe that we have consented to drag whatever we do here to the left.

    Sorry, Anne Laurie, but my inner pedant will not be denied.

  78. 78
    Ben JB says:

    I’m glad to hear that wanting to hit Ben Shapiro is a center position.

  79. 79
    Comrade Luke says:

    I don’t think we have shifted farther to the left since 2008. The Republicans have just gotten crazier and more fanatical, so we only seem left wing.

    Tell me about it. Over the last 20yrs I’ve tried to stay consistent in my views, but somehow I’ve gone from being an FDR/LBJ Democrat to a Social/Marxist.

    I’m worried that eventually Republicans will make a law stating that I can’t even be able to turn left while driving.

    Which would be. so. typical.

  80. 80
    Sly says:

    @John Cole:

    Balloon Juice: The John Paul Stevens of the Internet.

  81. 81
    Mnemosyne says:


    Ugh. I am happy to report that, three years, six crowns, three root canals, and many thousands of dollars later, my dentist has finally completed his “treatment plan” for me. Now I have to try and maintain it.

    G had all four of his wisdom teeth taken out a few years ago. He looked like Richard Nixon for a couple of hours there.

  82. 82
    Yutsano says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m suddenly glad I got the gene that says I have pretty awesome teeth. The worst I’ve ever had done is two pre-emptive fillings that barely hurt to get done. No orthodontia, no root canals. I really should be knocking on wood right now huh?

  83. 83

    @Mnemosyne: I didn’t go to the dentist for several years. Then, I had a broken tooth, so I found an awesome dentist. Then, much restorative work for several years. Now (just had appointment today), I am done done done, knock on wood, with all the fixing. Wa-hooooo!

    As for this blog, I would say it’s definitely left-of-center, but not leftwing.

  84. 84
    sashal says:

    of course it is in the center.
    the center of normal thinking humanity…
    The republican thought moved so f* way way right, that any normalcy by some considered to be left now.
    Sure to the left of the extremist right does not make one an ultra lefty.

    Also here, a very good article on political labeling :

  85. 85
    Jamie says:

    Well one of the big problems is that the right doesn’t have the people to build and maintain sites like the left does. Look at the bottom of a lot of the right wing blogs and you’ll see that they are handled by actual shops and companies, where as the left wing blogs are more handled by individuals doing the work out of their love of politics. I’m an example of this. I am the sole developer and maintain the servers for Crooks and Liars. I do most of this out of my passion for progressive politics and a friendship with John Amato. Of course it also gives me a decent payback, as it helps complete my portfolio as a professional web developer. Yeah it’s a little slower implementing stuff, since I do most of the work in my free time, but I also strive to make the new features as powerful as I can and we’ll finally be rolling some of those out in the next couple of weeks.

  86. 86
    sloan says:

    Looks like liberals are working together to raise money, promote candidates and win elections, while conservatives are authoritarian self-promoting loners trying to be the next Matt Drudge.

    Or here’s how that kook at Legal Insurrection put it:

    Sites on the left are echo-chambers in which like-minded individuals come together to tell each other how smart they are, in the comfort of a platform provided to them by ideological gurus (can you say Arianna, Markos and Jane) who lead these bloggers to pre-determined fundraising and political action while deluding the bloggers into thinking they are part of a grassroots movement so they can feel good about themselves. Right-wing bloggers, by contrast, exhibit the rugged individualism that built this country, defeated fascism and communism, and put men on the Moon.

    Men on the moon, bitches!

  87. 87
    grumpy realist says:

    Men on the Moon was due to “individualism”?

    Um, anyone LOOKED at how we actually got some primates-in-tin-cans-flying-through-vacuum up there? NASA and all that? The large number of people involved in that stuff?

    Just confirms my impression: “rugged individualism” is one of those cliches that gets used by the Right regardless of whether what happened was “individual” or not.

    (And I especially love the glibertarians enshrinement of “opening the West” of homesteading & “doing it on your own” totally ignoring none of it would have been possible except for the biggest land grab by a government this side of creation.)

  88. 88

    Balloon-Juice was classified as “center”

    Well, you do approve highly of Obama’s program thus far.

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