Personality cult?

In an e-mail to the Denver Post's Chuck Plunkett, the people (person?) behind the new "Colorado Peak Politics" blog liken the late, great FaceTheState.com to a "personality cult."

Unlike Drudge, HuffPo or even Face the State, we did not want to make our site about elevating a person or creating another online cult of personality (*cough*David Sirota*cough).

The blog has said nice things about FTS in the past, though I must take issue with them here.

Personality cult? No, FTS was just cutting against the grain. Yours truly with former FTS reporter (and current Cory Gardner flak) Rachel Boxer

CPP lumps together four different Web sites (The Drudge Report, Huffington Post, FTS, and David Sirota's blog) as if they all fit some single, yet undefined, mold. It's simply not the case, and goes to show conservatives still have a lot to learn about navigating the online landscape.

My personal speculation is that CPP is backed by conservatives of a stripe that believed FTS was never "partisan enough," especially in the last year. But in truth CPP is many things FTS never set out to be, and itself is a desperately-needed addition to the political online ecosystem. But both approaches work toward the same long-term goal.

Face The State was a news Web site, not a blog. Sure, FTS featured commentary by yours truly and the venerable Peter Blake, but the bulk of our time (and budget) was dedicated to original reporting. Blogs can break news too, but in the case of CPP the goal is very clearly to send up liberals and provide rhetorical top cover for the state's Republicans.

And good on them for doing that important work. But by the same token, FTS is not CPP much as FTS was not HuffPo or Drudge or WhoSaidYouSaid.com. Each offers something unique to a highly overlapping readership. (Even if Huffington Post does so by mostly repackaging others' work.)

Was FTS a personality cult? Even when FTS stories were filed as "staff reports," our reporters clearly identified themselves by name to sources and members of the media. They would appear on TV and radio discussing their stories, taking clear responsibility for their work. I was, as managing editor, the most prominent face of Face The State. That was by design. Over the years I offered a consistent presentation of FTS's editorial stance, particularly on the radio where a familiar voice is key. I may be guilty of obsessively promoting my product, but the brand always came first.

I hope CPP grows to be a successful counterpoint to what remains a mostly liberal Colorado media. But the motivations I suspect drive its backers - if their public statements are any indication - reveal conservatives have a long way to go in winning the online communication war. Peak Politics will land some punches on Democrats, and deep-red Republicans will feel warm and fuzzy. That's not enough.

Face The State worked for change too, exposing politicians and institutions for violations of the public trust. In a world where voters are increasingly disenchanted with the partisan system itself, I contend it's the latter approach that pushes a limited government agenda as much if not more than the former.