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Left-Wing Bloggers Gather for Kos Sessions

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Advocates of the liberal cause or causes have been descending on Las Vegas this week. The yearly Kos conference, that's spelled k-o-s, is being held at the Riviera Hotel. It's named after the influential progressive blog Daily Kos and it's being billed as the largest gathering ever of left-leaning political bloggers.

NPR's Luke Burbank went to check it out.

LUKE BURBANK reporting:

If you're working the registration desk at the first major convention bringing together left-leaning political bloggers, there's one question you probably don't have to ask.

Did you register online.

Cathy and Edward Cohen of Los Angeles did register online. Yearly Kos, as it's being called, was Edward Cohen's first time at a grassroots convention. He says he's not big on crowds, but so great was his wife's love for the politically left blogoshpere that she got him to go.

Ms. CATHY COHEN (Conference attendee): I'm a blog reading addict.

Mr. EDWARD COHEN (Conference attendee): Addict is right. We got rid of our television and so she's glommed onto the computer.

Ms. COHEN: Nothing is in the mainstream media. If you want to know what's going on in the world, you have to read the blogs.

BURBANK: The Cohens, who were some of the 1000 or so conference attendees, didn't really look all that bloggy, whatever that means. With their gray hair and distinct lack of tattoos, they seemed somehow older or less tech savvy or just more socially adjusted than people who would be showing up at a blogging conference.

Mr. MARKOS MOULITSAS (Daily Kos founder): Misconceptions about bloggers is, you know, we're all a bunch of anti-social misfits who sit there in a basement in this aura of the pasty glow of the monitor on our faces.

BURBANK: Markos Moulitsas is none of those things. In fact, he's kind of the star of the show here. His blog, Daily Kos, and it is Kos like Markos, reaches some 600,000 people a day, more than many daily newspapers. Moulitsas says as convenient and safe as the blogs are for getting left-leaning folks together -

Mr. MOULITSAS: People still crave that face-to-face connection. I mean, there's just no doubt. And this to me is a logical extension to that. It's like, hey, you know, we all met, we know we exist. We're all really jazzed up and excited about what we're doing.

BURBANK: That's the idea behind the conference. And it's not just bloggers and their readers who are showing up. Presidential hopefuls Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor, and Mark Warner, former governor of Virginia, were there, as was Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. They were all here to court the blogoshpere.

In fact, there were so many big names and the sessions sounded so political -Framing Your Message and Building Progressive Infrastructure - that the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada was starting to feel a little bit like the Beltway. It was time to reconnect with Vegas.

(Soundbite of billiards)

BURBANK: In the next ballroom over, the American Cue Sports Alliance was holding its national tournament. Chris Machuga was there as a competitor. His mother was there to watch him.

Ms. FRANCES MACHUGA (Chris Machuga's mother): I'm Frances Machuga and I'm Chris's mom. I'm 85 and a half and I come to all the events with my son.

BURBANK: Have you ever heard of a blog?

Ms. MACHUGA: I've heard of it, but I don't know anything about it. I'm an artist. I don't do anything with computers.

BURBANK: So you're going to be pretty busy with the pool. You're not going to be going down to the blogging?

Ms. MACHUGA: Probably not. I like to watch this. I love three-cushion billiards and they finally put in a three-cushion table down here.

BURBANK: There's no arguing that everyday blogs grow in their political importance. They allow like minded people to meet up with each other from all over the country. And politicians are taking notice. Bloggers now even have their own official convention. Still though, they'll have to come a little further if they want to pull Frances Machuga away from her three-cushion billiards.

Luke Burbank, NPR News, Las Vegas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Luke Burbank
Luke Burbank is kind of amazed that NPR is letting him co-host its new morning show, The Bryant Park Project, NPR's new morning news show launched on October 1, 2007.