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Washington Post Details Conservative Surge on Internet, Features MRC's Bozell

Monday's Washington Post has a lengthy front-page article documenting how conservatives and grass roots groups opposed to big government have rallied since the 2008 election to become a major force on the Internet.

The print headline: "'Wired' Conservatives Get the Message Out." The headline at WashingtonPost.com took more negative angle: "New media help conservatives get their anti-Obama message out."

The Washington Post's Jerry Markon details how conservatives, including the Media Research Center, have capitalized on new media innovations over the past few years to become a more formidable movement:

[Media Research Center President Brent Bozell] operates a mini-empire with seven Web sites, including Eyeblast.tv, a conservative version of YouTube. "When you are on the outs, and we are completely on the outs in Washington, we've got nothing to lose," Bozell said. "It's a heckuva lot more fun."


Here's a longer excerpt of the article, the entire version of which is available online:

With the Democratic defeat in the recent special senatorial election in Massachusetts, engineered in part by tea-party activists working with several Beltway-based groups, the conservative movement is more energized than it has been in years.

It is also more unified. Disputes festered between economic and social conservatives during the Bush years, but they have eased amid what all sides decry as Obama's liberal agenda. "Nothing unites like a common enemy," said Colin Hanna, president of the conservative group Let Freedom Ring.

The movement that many date to the 1955 founding of William F. Buckley's venerable National Review now spreads through new media. Learning from the Democratic "Net roots," conservatives use Twitter and Facebook to plan such events as the recent demonstrations against health-care reform at the Capitol.

"We're experts at [finding] pro-lifers on Facebook," said Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Arlington-based Students for Life of America, and one of numerous social conservatives who have worked closely with economic conservatives to fight Democratic health bills.

Such coordination is increasing. Inside the Beltway, much of it is fueled by the Conservative Action Project (CAP), a new group of conservative leaders chaired by Reagan-era attorney general Edwin Meese III. CAP, whose influential memos "for the movement" circulate on Capitol Hill, is an offshoot of the Council for National Policy, a highly secretive organization of conservative leaders and donors.

"There is a definite sense that the various parts of the conservative movement are coming together," said Regnery, a leading CAP member.

...

What is unclear is whether the energy on the right will benefit the Republican Party. Many conservatives, especially tea-party groups, are deeply suspicious of party moderates, and the results of November's House race in Upstate New York still resonate. Conservative opposition to the Republican candidate, state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, helped get Democrat Bill Owens elected.

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"Conservatives could care less if there's an R in front of your name," said Tom Gaitens, a Florida member of Glenn Beck's 9.12 Project, which the Fox News host - a leading Obama critic - announced on the air in March. It has hundreds of chapters that work with tea-party groups.

...

The forces inside and outside the Beltway are interacting more than ever.

For example, Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips was at an anti-health-reform rally in Arkansas when his BlackBerry buzzed. It was an e-mail from the Heritage Foundation, blasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's just-released 1,990-page health bill.

Phillips, whose group works closely with tea-party activists, read portions of it at the rally. Heritage also is spreading the conservative message to talk radio. It supplies research to Limbaugh and conservative host Sean Hannity, who direct listeners to Heritage's Web site.

Another inside-outside force is CRC, the Alexandria firm headed by Mueller, who was Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign communications director. It works with the movement's many strands, inundates journalists with e-mails and uses social networking to drive the message.

Among CRC's clients is L. Brent Bozell III, who started the Media Research Center in Alexandria in 1987 with one black-and-white TV to monitor perceived liberal media bias. Today, he operates a mini-empire with seven Web sites, including Eyeblast.tv, a conservative version of YouTube.

"When you are on the outs, and we are completely on the outs in Washington, we've got nothing to lose," Bozell said. "It's a heckuva lot more fun."


- Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center.