In the corner of Keegan’s Irish Pub on March 7, 30-40 bloggers are drinking and chatting, with no laptops in sight. Welcoming bloggers, a guy is sounding a loud horn with a Norm Coleman sticker on it. This is a Minnesota Organization of Bloggers event — the annual MOB party.
“Laura Billings called us a bunch of amateur pundits who were sitting in pajamas in people’s basements, in our mother’s basements cranking out facile ire at each other,” Mitch Berg, a member of the MOB said. “Nick Coleman calls us a bunch of armchair experts who don’t really know much of anything.”
But bloggers are real people, not stereotypes. The MOB is an organization of mostly center-right bloggers, but Berg notes that not everyone in the MOB is conservative; he said the MOB is very deliberately a non-partisan organization. Berg and the MOB try to bring bloggers together every year at Keegan’s, their favorite bar, so they can meet each other face to face.
“I have found, in a long time of being kind of an amateur pundit, that it’s good to get people together to see each other as humans rather than as collections of stereotypes,” Berg said.
Berg also noted that people think bloggers are a bunch of angry white guys. According to Technorati.com, 57 percent of American bloggers are male. Most members of the MOB are male, but there are a few females and even some Democrats, according to Berg.
The MOB started in 2002 after AM 1280 The Patriot talk show host Hugh Hewitt said some of his favorite blogs are in stereotypically liberal Minnesota.
“Here we were conservatives stuck in the middle of liberal land,” Berg said. Berg identifies himself as conservative, but the annual MOB party is an attempt to reach across the aisle and do what everyone has in common: drinking.
To become a member of the MOB you have to attend an event like the party. You can also e-mail a petition to join. About 100 blogs are a part of the MOB.
Johnny Roosh, Berg’s partner at his Shot in the Dark blog, said blogging is like a debate. “It’s half the fun. We all love each other but we slam each other in the comment section,” Roosh said. “We have a lot of commenters that use pen names, but we know who they are.”
“Johnny Roosh” is not his real name. Roosh is a financial advisor and he uses a pen name so he does not offend clients with his political blog.
“It’s the ultimate manifestation of freedom of speech in America,” said Roosh. “We can write anything we want,” Roosh said.
Casey Merkwan is a journalism student at the University of Minnesota and an intern at the TC Daily Planet.