The current issue of Newsweek features a provocative takedown of Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, also known as Kos, the titan of the blogging left who has come under heavy fire lately from his fellow bloggers for “Kosola” and from the MSM (see Brooks, David, New York Times) for hubris and greed.


The Newsweek piece, by Jonathan Darman, features such lines as “It seems as though the rock-thrower is growing up”; “Moulitsas is also learning another downside of membership in the elite: the bigger the liberal sniper gets, the more incoming fire he faces”; and “The pressure on Moulitsas — to be consistent, to be pragmatic, to win — will only grow as the fall elections approach. Already, the strain of the spotlight is beginning to show in his growing belligerence and paranoia.”


Bring on the bloggers.


Newsweek has a three-pager on Kos and his growing influence in the Democratic Party,” writes Brian Zick at the ITT List. “Aravosis calls it a ‘good story,’ and I suppose, to the extent that perception of power equals reality of power in the bubble of D.C. politics, then it’s ‘good’ that establishment reporters and bubble-minded politicians believe that Kos is someone who has weight to throw around, with the prospects of becoming a kingmaker. Because it means they will pay attention to him.”


But Zick also says Darman’s repeated use of the term “paranoia” appears “much more as a smear than an act of responsible journalism,” and asserts that Kos’s political strategy does not “fit with Newsweek’s preconceived establishmentarian storyline.” He concludes: “The report isn’t a total hatchet job, and it does give passing mention to Markos’ electoral pragmatism. But it is overly suffused with misinformed drek.”


“Well, the MSM seems to be gunning for Kos,” writes Sensible Mom. “Today Newsweek has a profile of Kos that reads like one they’d write about their least favorite Republican — a profile so negative they seem to hope it will turn people against him (of course, 90 percent of the population doesn’t have a clue who Kos is, but never mind that).”


“He gave them the ammunition,” she adds, “with his paranoid response to some simple questions from TNR.”


Ann Althouse ponders the question of paranoia further, writing that “Newsweek goes after Kos but if he says they do, he’s paranoid.” While the story “starts off looking like a puff piece,” with Kos “listening to hummingbirds and finally getting that flat-screen TV,” it is actually “quite hard on him.”


“Kos’s writing style — which has obviously served him well as a blogger up to this point — sounds angry and crazed to the outsider,” Althouse adds. “It’s easy to get him to react with ‘belligerence and paranoia,’ and the more successful he is, the more Democrats are motivated to marginalize and disqualify him.”


Meantime, John Aravosis at AMERICAblog is the only blogger we found who actually liked Newsweek’s work (calling it a good, accurate, and fair story), while TalkLeft compares Newsweek’s “overt attack” on Kos with its “total puff piece on conservative Hugh Hewitt and his plans to combine right-wing talk radio with right-wing bloggers and build an effective right-wing political movement.”


Some bloggers, such as Blue Crab Boulevard, considered the wider implications of the Kos coverage. Asking whether the “Koz Kidz” are ready for the spotlight, the blogger writes, “So the more they react, the harder the media scrutinizes. The more rage they respond with, the more coverage they will get. Not positive coverage, either. This will not get prettier or easier for Kos. The real danger here is that if the media drags him down, they will be trying really hard to bring down all bloggers at the same time.”


“The knives are out,” Blue Crab concludes. “Ready for prime time?”

Edward B. Colby was a writer at CJR Daily.