No Going Back

The other day, someone on Gab said there was a time when he thought PJ Media was an edgy site on the Right. It seems a bit ridiculous now, but the venture was a radical thing a dozen years ago. Charles Johnson, this one, not this one, was the lead on exposing Dan Rather’s scheme to pass off the forged George Bush National Guard documents. That was big stuff in 2004. Bloggers in their pajamas, working from their basements, were able to take down the mainstream media and finish off the career of Dan Rather.

That was the birth of PJ Media, which was originally called Pajamas Media, owning the insult hurled at bloggers by CBS news executive Jonathan Klein. He was the guy who tried to brush off the critics by calling them losers sitting around in their pajamas. Like the word “deplorable” it quickly became a badge of honor. In retrospect, that incident was the start of alternative media and alternative politics. Initially it was a reaction to the excesses of liberal media, but as is often the case, it took on a life of its own.

Today, PJ Media is not edgy in the slightest. It serves an audience that still enjoys the old partisan hooting that was popular through the Bush years. That’s true of all all the sites that popped up in response to the liberal media’s attack on Bush. All of the edgy guys hired by outfits like National Review have become safe and boring. It’s hard to imagine it today, but Jonah Goldberg was once the bad boy of National Review. A dozen years ago, snarky hipster conservatism was a thing. All the hipsters sold out or just got boring.

There’s a lesson here. These first generation alternative media operations followed a pattern that has been observed in the third world. In Africa and South America, the colonies gained their independence and the assumption was they would either emulate Western style governments or implement some local version of democratic rule. Instead, the post-colonial rulers adopted the exploitative institutions that the old colonial powers had used to control the colonies. What worked for Britain worked for Siaka Stevens.

In other words, the first generation of right-wing alternative media sites fell into the same habits as the operations they were challenging. They could get an audience by challenging the legacy media, but in order to monetize that audience, they decided they had to adhere to the same moral framework as the legacy media. That meant running off anyone that colored outside the lines and assiduously avoiding taboo subjects. In a short time, they were the same sorts of moral enforcers for the Left they had criticized at the start.

One of the telling aspects about the Trump phenomenon was just how over-the-top many of these first wave alt-media types were in their opposition to Trump. Guys like Erick Erickson and Glenn Beck were such rabid Trump haters, it was assumed they were being paid to do it. PJ Media had a gaggle of unhinged Trump haters on their site. Red State turned itself into such a clown show, they endorsed Hillary Clinton. The hipster conservatives of a decade ago were now the squares wagging their fingers at the kids.

There are a couple of lessons here for the people forging ahead with alt-tech as well as alt-media. One is that to be an alternative, to truly challenge the status quo, the nature of the alternative has to be incompatible with the nature of the orthodoxy. Otherwise, the big fish eat the little fish , so the little fish of alternative media get gobbled up. This is why Andrew Torba is adamant about his stance on terms of service. He has correctly discovered that to be a challenge to Twitter, Gab has to be a break from the orthodoxy.

That’s something the Left quickly understood in their march through the institutions. What was set up to keep the old WASP elite in power, could easily turn them into shaggier versions of the people they replaced. That and those institutions failed to defend the old guard against the radicals. The Left has systematically altered the institutions of American life to maintain their dominance. The Left did not just march through the institutions. They altered them, like a virus alters the host’s healthy cells to replicate itself.

That’s another lesson. The people in charge are well aware of how they gained their position. They are not about to make the same mistakes as their predecessors. When Siaka Stevens gained power in post-colonial Sierra Leone, one of the first things he did was destroy the rail line between Bo and Freetown. The reason is it crippled the economy of his primary political rivals. Even though it damaged the nation’s economy as a whole, what mattered to Stevens is it helped him stay in power. The Left thinks the same way.

What that means for alternative media and alternative tech is they have to remain independent and hostile to the orthodoxy. A guy like Richard Spencer, racing to be on liberal media when they call, is going to be destroyed eventually. He’s not as clever as he thinks and Lefty plays for keeps. The same holds for technology. Again, Gab is a good example of how to do it right. They are building their own financing mechanism so they don’t have to sell their souls to the Silicon Valley oligarchs.

Finally, the PJ Media experience says something else. Even as these first wave populist outlets were absorbed by the blob, the audience continued to grow. This is another lesson of history. Once people break free from the old intellectual and moral restraints, they don’t go back to the old ways. We are in the midst of an intellectual revolution, where the old modes of thought are challenged by new modes of thinking about politics, society and the human condition. Old media has the money, but new media has the numbers.

In the end, it is always about the numbers.

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Glen Filthie
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Glen Filthie

Spot on as usual, Z. I don’t claim to speak for the alt-right or dissident right – but I bet a lot of folks will agree with me when I say that I want a media THAT TELLS THE TRUTH. I reject leftist propaganda out of hand – it’s an insult to the intelligence. I am watching the media hysterics over Trump and laughing like a loon. But having said that I don’t like biased news from the right either – and that’s what I see in the NRO and PJ – the same sloganeering, the same censorship, the same… Read more »

james+wilson
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james+wilson

Part of this process is to no longer identify NR and PJ Media as right wing. PJ has, as you say, some useful articles. When they are at their worst the commentariat is all over them from the get go. Apparently, though, they grasp that if they disable comments no one will read them any longer, and they care. NR does not care, and it shows.

Gerard Van der Leun
Member
Gerard Van der Leun

I spent 30 years in the magazine business as an editor for Penthouse and contributor to lots of others. I was also a magazine publisher for Penthouse and Omni and know the business. National Review is ENTIRELY dependent on some sort of large donor bank to keep running. It is a DEAD magazine and a DEAD website. Lowry is no longer young enough or hot enough to raise money in DC by letting various rich neo-cons buttfuck him on demand. The twink is dead. Magazine may lurch on as undead for a long time.

Member

Even as far back as twelve years, I was getting into blogging spats with Goldberg. I saw him for what he was back then and called him on it. Naturally, NR no longer allows comments. I was apparently among the first wave of a tsunami of dissent. They don’t want to hear from us, and we no longer care to read their crap.

Robert What?
Guest
Robert What?

I stopped reading any sites that don’t allow comments. Not that I comment a lot but I have no interest in reading the opinions of people who have no interest in the opinions of their readers. I have no idea how NR stays in business and who actually reads it.

Gerard Van der Leun
Member
Gerard Van der Leun

It was a proud, proud day for me some years back on Twitter when I got th at fat-fuck cucksuker Goldberg to block me. Took six high explosive insults but I got him.

Bert
Guest
Bert

I got blocked by Tom Nichols recently. Poor old man can’t handle his faults being pointed out.

Ripple
Guest
Ripple

PJ Media does have some worthwhile columnists. Richard Fernandez aka Wretchard of Belmont Club is pretty tuned in and has some astute commenters. Michael Walsh can be insightful, and co-founder Roger Simon totally came around for Trump. The tale of co-founder Charles Johnson and his main site Little Green Footballs is a strange one. It was one of the leading anti-Jihadist, anti-liberal sites in the Bush years. But he always ran the place like a dictator and his swing to the hard left shouldn’t have been surprising, although it was to many participants. The problem over there is not the… Read more »

Old Surfer
Guest
Old Surfer

LGF rolled left and died, as Sarah Hoyt would put it, but they also went bugfuck nuts as well. A shame, as LGF was a power for quite a while.

A B
Guest
A B

Wretchard is fast becoming an example of the problem. Content quality started declining when he signed with PJM. There’s no “Three Conjectures” anymore, and the work is becoming formulaic.

YMMV

Tax Slave
Guest
Tax Slave

Mmmmmm…I don’t think so.

Bert
Guest
Bert

Charles Johnson is a pathetic old Boomer in his 60s who never married and has no children. He clings to LGF because it’s the only proof that he ever lived.

He was never even a conservative either. He was one of many who jumped on the War of Terror fever way back when.

Member

Oh look, A tool.

Guest
Guest
Guest

Between the advertisements, the pop-ups, and the “click to read more” contagion, PJ Media is simply unreadable. I can’t recall the last time I spent more than a few seconds with a tab open on PJ Media’s site.

Instapundit has become little more than a feeder for PJ Media, which is a shame. I rarely click through anything on his site anymore either.

t88747
Guest
t88747

I don’t know if you read the state of alt-tech article I posted in a comment in another post, but it described the ways that these sites are being brought down. People will badger the domain registrars, hosting providers, and credit card payment processors that they are supporting hate speech. All it takes is any one of these three to fold and it causes a bad day for a site.

pandelume
Guest
pandelume

Another post demanding ideological purity, and on your terms. See? The right can eat its own, too!

Leads me to think if you weren’t alt-righty you’d be control-lefty.

Observer
Guest
Observer

Wow. So-called “conservatives” end up preaching the same message as liberals. That is such a puzzler to those who insist on seeing the world purely through ideology. But for those of us who are willing to entertain the thought that there are ethnic, even tribal factors at play — the puzzle is easily solved. I know it’s difficult for some to believe that the ethnic factors that meant everything to humans 5,000 and 500 and even 50 years ago might still mean something today, but let’s play along. Our nation’s morals & status allocation codes are dictated to us by… Read more »

Zorost
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Zorost

Great post. Some in the normie media picked up on the fact that politics is decreasingly about ideology, and increasingly about globalist vs. nationalist. Which could be restated by those in the know as jews & shabbos goy vs. whites.

Steve D
Guest
Steve D

The reason they dislike Trump is the same reason they disliked Obama. They are conservatives; Trump and Obama are liberals. It’s that simple.

Sam J.
Guest
Sam J.

For those annoyed by the inability to cut and paste or use your right click button on this page to open comments in a new tab, copy this into your browser address and enter. I use Firefox can’t say for other browsers. javascript:void(document.oncontextmenu=null); I saved it to a bookmark as named and it works the same way. Arrgg…this doesn’t work. I entered what was in my bookmark, which works, but when entered into the browser it doesn’t work. I have no idea. I’ll have to look around. I noticed when you enter javascript: void (document.oncontextmenu=null); It removes the javascript: part.… Read more »

Clayton Barnett
Guest

Belmont Club is the only thing left on PJMEDIA worth a damn.

Gerard Van der Leun
Member
Gerard Van der Leun

You got that right. Belmont was extant before PJ and I brought him in with a group of bloggers that reached around the world so we could, if something happened, cover it 24/7. Thats been broken since PJ no longer tries to report news only opinions. I also brought on Hanson and a host of others.

Fernandez is , in my very informed opinion, one of the finest essayists on the web. His ability to analyze American society and politics is even more impressive when your recall he was raised in Manila and now is it Australia.

Old Surfer
Guest
Old Surfer

Sorry to disagree, but Insty and his wife Helen still do good work and InstaP is right after American Digest in my morning scan.

Gerard Van der Leun
Member
Gerard Van der Leun

I agree that they do good work. Just predictable.

Tax Slave
Guest
Tax Slave

I visit your site often. Have since early 2000’s. Still getting used to the new design, though.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

I want to thank Am Digest for bringing me to Zman (and Z for bringing me to Heartiste.) Life-changing, literally.

Mike@Mike.Mike
Guest
Mike@Mike.Mike

PJM has devolved into a ward for Zionists, charity cases, neocon cranks, “reformed liberals” and a whole platoon of moralistic female scolds. The website design is designed to generate cheap clicks with its “Read More” button one has to push a dozen times just to read one 800 word article. Half the content is lazy “5 best/worst things about (insert random uninteresting bit of boilerplate pop culture here)” click bate. Instapundit unfathomably continues to allow PJM to piggyback on its popularity with several PJM staff contributing over half the content to IP’s news feed. Much of that content is linked… Read more »

Gerard Van der Leun
Member
Gerard Van der Leun

I don’t think the PJ thing runs out of an office anymore and yes they are tone deaf to readers. Again, this is just a paycheck for them. The site’s on autopilot and run by email. The “More” clicker is just one of the irritating items that keeps me and hundreds of thousands awayu. PJ has been training its readers to be bored through uncaring dullness. No change can be expected. They really are just puffing smoke through a corpse’s fundament to make it seem as it it has the breath of life.

A B
Guest
A B

What was the deal with Roger and the bloggers he supposedly screwed?

joey+junger
Guest
joey+junger

A few years ago (when things seemed more hopeless than interesting) someone was lamenting that the left owned the most powerful tool: mockery disguised as comedy as the ultimate megaphone. Being mocked by Jon Stewart was more feared than getting a bullet to the back of the head and thrown in a lime pit. Then, seemingly out of the blue (but really building for awhile) words like “cuckservative” appeared and the Pepe Frog trolls started outing the left’s dirty little secret, that they were the establishment and couldn’t stand to be mocked or ridiculed. Our comedy class is essentially humorless… Read more »

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Everything always changes, nothing stays the same. Sometimes the content is consistent, but the world around us changes, and the context of the product is altered, or rendered valueless.

Five years ago, I could not have imagined the world we live in today. I treat people differently now, because so many are so delusional. I don’t think they will snap out of it, so I just avoid them as much as possible. I am turning into a cranky old git.

Tim
Guest
Tim

You and me both, Dutch. Right there with you.

Saml Adams
Guest
Saml Adams

Get off my lawn.

BestGuest
Guest
BestGuest

Is Aubrey Chernick still the majority owner of PJM? That would go a long way toward explaining the content. It’s political Zionism (and Israel right-or-wrong) from top to bottom there now. With content-link-stealing from more productive sites that still do journalism like the Daily Caller. It’s too bad really.

Val
Guest
Val

American Thinker is halfway to where PJM is. Though I’d never insult Dr. Lifson by comparing him to Simon, his selection of writers (with a few scant exceptions) has been going downhill in the same direction for the past couple of years. *sigh*

Gerard Van der Leun
Member
Gerard Van der Leun

Yup. Way down hill. These guys get stuck in old writers as they get older. Plus American Thinker had (an maybe still has) a really screwy submission method which made the writers send and edit documents in Microsoft Word. Also the American Thinker site is now looking very very geriatric. Then again Lifson really has no taste in online graphic design and less experience.

Member

The place is full of barking mad Zionist Neocon filth.

Gerard Van der Leun
Member
Gerard Van der Leun

As the first Editor-In-Chief of PJ (Pajamas) Media I’ll pop in a couple of notes. First, PJ was formed by little Chuckie Johnson and Roger Simon. The first, and I think, only seed money and sustaining funding was supplied by Aubrey Chernik, a very rich Hollywood fellow, who is big into finding causes that support Israel. Johnson had very, very, very little to do with the actual site since, once he outed himself as a flaming asshole, Chernik bought him out, gave him a tip, and sent him on his way to his current candidacy for a hole in the… Read more »

Gerard Van der Leun
Member
Gerard Van der Leun

Oh yes…. and then there was the towering delusions surrounding PJ Television. A project so insane that it finally drove away all its best stars. Again, when a man has mad a LOT of money at one thing in life he always thinks afterwards that, even thought he is a very smart man, he’s not that smart.

Old Surfer
Guest
Old Surfer

But just when it looks the darkest, along comes Remus to save the day! http://www.woodpilereport.com/

cerulean
Guest
cerulean

With links to Zman, evan.

cerulean
Guest
cerulean

And I get an 80 on the spelling test.

Gerard Van der Leun
Member
Gerard Van der Leun

Ol’ Remus is a precious national treasure.

Tim
Guest
Tim

It is a real weekly treat, isn’t it?

Occassional Commenter
Guest
Occassional Commenter

I noticed my reading list morphs over time as I get weary of some sites and move on to others. I’ve pretty much given up on PJM; the only columnists I visit regularly there are Instapundit and Richard Fernandez (Belmont Club).

I only go to HotAir when I want to read what the NeverTrumpers are saying (i.e., rarely).

Drudge no longer seems to be cutting edge or fighting for scoops; he now seems to link mostly to Old Media.

So goes the world.

Member

I blame the Jews. Heh.

TomA
Guest
TomA

If you really want heresy, then you have to address the paradigm problem. We have already passed the tipping point in terms of population degeneracy and consequently we cannot talk our way out of the hole we are in. In other words, persuasion cannot improve species fitness, only selection can.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Sailer and Zman are treasures, with the tremendous added benefit of the comments sections. I’m not sure how the comments are not overwhelmed by fools and trolls, but it may be in the nature of the commentary, that such people shy away from the sites.

Whiskey
Guest

Belmont Club very carefully refrains from criticizing Immavasion and Diversity. I was banned ostensibly for being “racist” (saying negative and uncomplimentary though historically true things about Black people — such as the Port Washington Mutiny as WHITE Marines were dying on places like Peleliu and Tarawa). The REAL reason for my banning of course was calling out Owner Richard Fernandez for failing to endorse Diversity in his beloved and native Philippines by having say 100 Million Nigerians settle there as he lives very far away from his nation in Australia. Indeed I believe I was berated quite a bit for… Read more »

Dan Kurt
Member
Dan Kurt

Hey Whiskey, why did you quit blogging?

Dan Kurt

sirlancelot
Guest
sirlancelot

One more vote for Remus. 🙂