“You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep…You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.
—The Big Sleep
Seems fitting to quote Raymond Chandler about the death of Roger Simon‘s dream, since Simon fancies himself a mystery and screen-writer. Pajamas Media is dead and its death can’t have come a moment soon. It not only died a nasty death to quote Chandler, it lived a nasty life.
Gee, I almost can’t stand the excitement lately. First, George Bush is sent packing back to Texas. Barack Obama is elected president. Then the Village Voice brings news that Pajamas Media will officially die as of March 31, 2009. It truly is a new era. And a much happier one.
Could it be that its demise along with Obama’s ascendancy signals a kinder, gentler era upon us? I wouldn’t hold my breath. But there is something to this passing of a neocon media icon. It was hopelessly out of synch with the new political trends in our country.
Everyone knew PJM had jumped the shark when it sent Joe the Plumber to Israel during the Gaza war to urge it to kill more Palestinians better. Joe reached his journalistic apotheosis when the “war correpondent” called for journalists to be barred from war zones. I thought that was biting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. But it could’ve been worse. Roger could’ve invited Paris Hilton to accompany The Plumber. Just think of the “tapes” they could’ve sent back to for Pajamas TV. They could’ve called it “love in the trenches.”
I couldn’t help thinking of Dennis the Peasant, who dogged Roger Simon from Day One nipping at his heels like a pesky terrier. Dennis called it from the beginning. He knew there was no business model. He knew it couldn’t work. The only thing Dennis got wrong was the date of the enterprise’s demise. He thought it would die much sooner. I’m guessing that the venture capitalists were having too much fun with their media playtoy and couldn’t bear to pull the plug when they should have.
The losers were Aubrey Chernick, an L.A. internet entrepreneur and flag-waving pro-Israel type, who parlayed his fortune in software development into new business opportunities hardening American targets for the upcoming war between Islam and the west. After his life as a software guru, his new business mined the rich opportunities posed by the Bush era homeland security gold mine. I’m guessing that he’s taken a hit since the rise of a new administration which will likely downplay the war on terror and other disaster opportunities.
Chernick and Levi-Strauss heir, Jim Koshland, initially invested $7 million in their PJM venture. Given that Chernick was worth nearly a billion a year or two ago, he probably didn’t lose much if the recent Wall Street debacle hasn’t wiped him out entirely.
My, but Koshland does have egg on his face after making this triumphal statement on shelling out his share of the $7-million back in 2003:
“We are pleased to be involved with Pajamas Media in an era when the demand for new and unique channels of information grows and the convergence of blogging, news coverage and advertising begins,” said Jim Koshland. “We anticipate that Pajamas Media will have a profound and positive market impact due to its outstanding team and unique business approach. We believe successful industry trends such as AOL’s acquisition of Weblogs validates the emergence of blogging as an important new media market. This financing will allow the company to accelerate its growth and solidify its market position.”
How is it that a local yokel from Ohio like Dennis knows more about perils of investing in blogs as the next big thing than a Silicon Valley entrepreneur like Koshland? In truth, Dennis knew what they should have and what any political blogger can tell you: it’s very, very difficult to monetize political blogs. You have to have a huge audience before you can earn any serious income. And if you go into blogging expecting that you can or will earn from it, you’re probably fooling yourself.
I had so much fun ragging on Michael Totten, Charles Johnson, Pammy Geller and the other Pajamaphiles that it’s a shame their piggybank has broken. Where will I find such rich targets? Oh and let’s not forget some of the other forlorn right wing has-beens left hanging out to dry. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving crew: former Clinton lib, Ron Silver; UN whistleblower and John Bolton acolyte, Claudi Rosset; aging Commie hunter Ron Radosh; Israeli neo-con Allison Kaplan Sommer; Michael “Throw-some-small-crappy-little-country-up-against-a-wall” Ledeen, and possibly the world’s only ex-radical feminist turned Likudist-Muslim-hating-neocon, Phyllis Chesler. No, they won’t go away since they’ll have their own online soapboxes from which to yammer. But they’ll have one less venue from which to trumpet their discordant notes.
What annoyed me most about PJM was that it was a major online base for the uber-Israel crowd. One of the sub-themes of the site was waving that blue and white flag through every war and skirmish. That was no doubt a result partially of the anti-Muslim tendencies of founders like Charles Johnson (Little Green Footballs) and Chernick’s own support for right wing groups like Stand With Us.