On this Guy Fawkes' Day, it is appropriate to celebrate an internationally-known political blogger who has assumed the persona of Guy -- or "Guido" -- Fawkes in his attempts to engage, stimulate, influence, and taunt conservative debate and discussion in the United Kingdom.
(For those unfamiliar with Guy Fawkes' Day, it marks the so-called "Gunpowder Plot" by Catholics who wanted to overthrow the stifling Protestant regime of King James I. There has been debate whether Fawkes was a ringleader, a patriot, or just a scapegoat, but his name is celebrated on the 5th of November each year with fireworks, bonfires, and libation. In recent years, the day has acquired some of the style and and customs of American Hallowe'en. The character of Guy Fawkes was also celebrated in the libertarian-themed film, V for Vendetta.)
Last week, as part of its series of reports marking the 4oth anniversary of the Internet, NPR's "All Things Considered" featured the creator of Order-Order.com, Paul Stains, a libertarian/conservative activist who has done for the British blogosphere what Glenn Reynolds or Michelle Malkin have done on this side of the pond. (I mention those names by way of example; there are many others I could have chosen.)
Correspondent Vickie Barker began her report by noting that, in London,
there are arguably only two types of politicians: those who admit they follow the Guy Fawkes blog and those who do, but won't admit it.She continues:
Five years ago, four centuries after his namesake, Paul Stains created his online alter ego. The nearly bankrupt businessman suddenly had a lot of time on his hands. A libertarian who once organized acid house parties in his student days, he described himself as Thatcher on drugs, Stains consciously set out to become Britain's Matt Drudge.Were it not for NPR, part of the mainstream media, I never would have learned about Order-Order.com, definitely part of the alternative media.
Like Drudge, he was initially dismissed as a know-nothing outsider, a purveyor of unfounded rumor and gossip. Like Drudge, he's been able to tap into a rich vein of disgruntlement among underpaid, overworked underlings....
He thinks the blog's chatty style - full of accounts of bumping into people in pubs, of getting drunk, of being thrown out of meetings - makes him more approachable to his mostly young sources. Guy Fawkes now registers 100,000 hits a week. It's consistently rated Britain's most influential political blog.
Stains works out of a cramped office in Clerkenwell, a Dickensian corner of East London. He readily acknowledges that he, a non-journalist with a somewhat checkered professional past, could never have reached the heights he has without the Internet. He calls that his strength.
Who can deny that the two are linked in a symbiotic relationship, in which both bloggers and the MSM benefit?
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