Left Wing Website Under Fire For Rejoicing Over U.S. Deaths

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Left Wing Website Under Fire For Rejoicing Over U.S. Deaths

With Reach Comes Responsibility; Liberal 'Blogger' Crosses Line with Recent Statements
By Bobby Eberle
April 5, 2004With today's technology, access to the Internet has become the rule rather than the exception. It is easier than ever to "surf the net," and setting up and maintaining a web site, an endeavor once reserved for "techno geeks," has become an activity enjoyed by millions of people across the country. With these advances in access and technology, web sites pushing issues on both ends of the political spectrum are popping up like mushrooms. Some of the rantings on these sites border on the extreme, yet because of their limited reach, their effect is negligible. However, when a web site has a sizable audience, then what is said matters, and when what is said celebrates the recent death of Americans working in Iraq, people should take notice.In a recent edition of Daily Kos (web site), web site owner Markos Moulitsas Zuniga discussed the brutal murders of four U.S. contractors by writing:"Let the people see what war is like. This isn¹t an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them."Zuniga's statements, which show a complete lack of sensitivity for the victims, the families, and those who witnessed the violence, are even more disturbing considering the sizeable left-wing audience that Zuniga and Daily Kos reach. According to the web site, Daily Kos reaches about 2.5 million unique visits per month. Zuniga has strong ties with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), as well as Democratic candidates and office holders.In a message on his web log or "blog" as they've come to be known, Zuniga shows his connections by posting a message from DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe which is prefaced by the statement, "Terry McAuliffe asked if I would post this." Zuniga also helps run the consulting firm of Armstrong Zuniga (web site) which represents "political candidates, organizations, and public interest groups." On that web site, Daily Kos is mentioned as well as their philosophy to "advocate the use of the internet [sic] in all ongoing campaigns to transform the current political structure."It's unfortunate when an Internet organization with so much reach and perceived power seeks to "transform the current political structure" by making statements that fly in the face of decency and American values. Thankfully, common sense and compassion seem to still exist as public outrage to Zuniga's statements is beginning to be felt throughout both conservative and left-wing circles.Conservative blogger Michael Friedman (web site) has a picture of Zuniga's statement, which has since been removed from Daily Kos, as well as a number of Democrats who advertise on Zuniga's web site. Under the caption, Friedman writes, "So much for the left's great blogging hope. I wonder if he would have the nerve to say that to the faces of the grieving families of Jerry Zovko, Mike Teague, Scott Helvenston, and the final unidentified victim. Hey, but who cares about them. After all, they're just the families of mercenaries, right Kos?"Friedman also calls on Democrats and left-leaning organizations to sever their ties with Zuniga and Daily Kos. Friedman lists Democratic congressional candidates Jane Mitakides (OH-3), Joe Donnelly (IN-2), and senate candidate Joe Hoeffel (PA), as well as Congressman Martin Frost (D-TX-32), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Environment 2004 as those whose ads appeared on the same page of Daily Kos as the one containing Zuniga's statements.Friedman says to those advertising on Daily Kos, "Your ad is published on the same web page as the article I quoted above. Needless to say, you are known by the company you keep. I hope you will be as outraged by Mr. Zuniga's disgusting comments as I am and that you will immediately sever your relationship with him."Friedman received a response from the campaign manager for Rep. Martin Frost, saying, "As a former Army Reserves member, spouse of an Army General on active duty and an American, Martin finds these words extremely irresponsible and highly offensive. As soon as this posting was brought to our attention we immediately severed any tie to the website." The campaigns of Donnelly and Hoeffel have also stopped advertising on Daily Kos.When asked to describe his efforts, Friedman told me that they were "very effective.""Four of his advertisers have left including three candidates and one interest group," Friedman said. "I am continuing to put pressure on his other advertisers.""I did not want to just howl in outrage -- everyone was doing that and it was just sending Kos more traffic which generates more revenue for him," Friedman added. "Kos is the top Democratic blogger and he makes several thousand dollars per month from advertising by Democratic candidates and interest groups."Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com (web site) says that Zuniga's comments came as a "shock" to him."I don't read his site every day, but I've known him since he's been blogging and I thought of him as partisan but reasonable," Reynolds said. "That post came as a surprise to me, and I guess to a lot of other people. But, short of exceptions borne of contract law, advertisers don't have to advertise when they think it's hurting them."The South Dakota Republican Party has called on Democratic congressional candidate Stephanie Herseth to cease her relationship with Daily Kos. According to statement by the party, Herseth has run advertisements on Daily Kos and the web site bragged that it helped raise more that $21,000 in a single day for Herseth. The party states on its web site, "Herseth's association with this organization is simply shocking and it reveals a serious lapse in her judgment. These extremist views do not reflect the South Dakota values that Herseth claims to represent."One prominent Democrat continues his association with Zuniga and Daily Kos -- presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry. The liberal, Massachusetts senator continues to have a fundraising page endorsed by Zuniga (web page). Until Saturday evening, Kerry's web site continued to list Daily Kos on the page of "Blogs, Boards, and Networking Groups."On Saturday evening, the link to Daily Kos was pulled from the Kerry website and the following message appeared on Kerry's web log: "In light of the unacceptable statement about the death of Americans made by Daily Kos, we have removed the link to this blog from our website."So, how does Daily Kos feel about the negative publicity? Zuniga is taking it in stride as demonstrated by his web statement from Saturday, April 3. In the statement, titled "I took their best shot, and... that was it?" Zuniga boasts of receiving only "about 30 hate-filled emails" and "about 15,000 hate-filled visitors." In reference to the ads which were pulled from his site, Zuniga says that they "are going to be replaced in less than a week."I had two emails today about people wanting to advertise despite the controversy," he writes on his blog.Zuniga concludes his message by saying, "But if that's the best they can throw at me, I'll simply echo Kerry. Bring it on."So much for remorse. Are these the type of rantings with which Democrats choose to associate themselves? I hope not. As the Internet continues to develop, it is the responsibility of those with reach and influence to act appropriately. Mocking the brutal murders of Americans in Iraq is beyond the pale, and Democrats and left-leaning organizations would do well to disassociate themselves with such irresponsible comments."I think everyone is equally responsible for what they write," Friedman says. "Larger sites are just more likely to get called on it when they make outrageous comments like Kos's."