Daily Kos, produced by 33-year-old Markos Moulitsas Zúniga as a liberal alternative to what he calls conservative domination of the mainstream media, is one of the most-widely read blogs on the net, with a daily readership of more than 350,000, up from 70,000 last January. That's double the viewership of Fox News. He's also raised $400,000 for John Kerry so far, he told The New York Times.
"The whole point of blogging is this notion of participatory democracy," he told CNN. "And people appreciate that they are partners in this endeavor, that it's not just them taking marching orders, but it is them being asked their opinions, and their thoughts and suggestions on how to proceed."
"Moulitsas' unique mixture of military and political analysis makes Daily Kos must-reading for Democratic Party leaders and activists," writes The Gadflyer.
"What pulls you in is not the data; it's his voice. He's cruel and superior, and he knows his side is going to win," observed Matthew Klam of The New York Times in Sunday's edition. In an article on rising stars of the Democratic Party, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in July called Moulitsas “a young Newt Gingrich:” Next generation eager to lead Democratic Party.
"Nothing really can compare to Kos’s site," writes Mark D Hamill, a blogger and software engineer. "Kos is where progressive politics is happening in real time. And we are not there just out of some sense of duty. We are having a blast. The site is addictive." He describes in detail how the site works.
"It would be really sexy and dramatic to claim that a few brave blogger souls set out to build an alternative media structure, but that's not really true," Moulitsas (as he's called) wrote in the (UK) Guardian on September 28. "We set out to write for ourselves, to provide an outlet for the angst we felt in a politically hostile environment - where criticizing the president on domestic policy was somehow unpatriotic. And we weren't alone: there was a huge audience out there hungry for this content. And suddenly, the seeds of a liberal media blossomed online."
In addition to the money he is raising for political candidates online, Moulitsas says his blog has begun to bring in a comfortable advertising income in the last few months, enabling him to pay off his credit card debt. When he was asked, "What's your revenue?" he replied, "I'm writing for the passion...I care about these issues...I'm doing this because I love to write...this has to be your motivation..there will be (only) a handful [of successful (popular) bloggers]," Julie Leung reports.
But in his passion, Moulitsas sometimes screws up. The Politus, blog has a good analysis of Koz's "education" now that he is a player in national politics.
For a brief autobiographical essay by Moulitsas, click. Essentially, he studied journalism and politics, is a lawyer, specialized in tech industry before becoming a blog star and political consultant, and he lives in Berkeley.
Moulitsas started DailyKos in May, 2002. In its first year, Daily Kos attracted over 1.6 million unique visits and about 3 million page views. (How in the hell did he build up such an audience that quickly? His connection to the Dean campaign must have had something to do with it, but it generally takes years for a web site with no existing brand to build that kind of audience.) Nowadays, he says it receives about eight million unique visits per month.
His consulting firm, ArmstrongZuniga.com is an internet strategy group that works for political candidates, organizations, and public interest groups. He's a rabid Democrat, but doesn't get along too well with the official party structure, at least according to the New York Times Magazine.
One does wonder how long "Koz" can keep all this fury and energy up, without a predictable income, apparently pay for his living expenses with his credit card. Will revenue from his site stabilize or continue to grow after the election? Will traffic fall off considerably? It's a risk. Dana Blankenhorn, a business journalist in San Francisco has a good analysis of Koz and the blogger phenomenon on his blog.
Paul Grabowicz, who teaches new-media courses at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, expressed doubts about the political importance of blogs to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"They may play out like a lot things that exploded on the Internet and were going to change everything," said Grabowicz. "On the other hand, the sophisticated answer is that they're an interesting addition to the public discourse and a welcome check on journalism."