PERRY/The migration of politics online

Msgop.org was the first party web site in Mississippi. That year Bishop also worked on State Auditor Phil Bryant’s campaign web page, the first statewide official to have a web presence apart from a government site.

Brad Morris, now chief-of-staff to First District Congressman Travis Childers, produced an early landmark in 1998 by going live with MSPOL.com, the online version of his political newsletter that featured breaking news and a bulletin board for posting political gossip.

By 1999, every credible statewide candidate was online. Running for governor, Democrat Ronnie Musgrove’s site used Java script and flashy page design. A candidate in the Republican Primary for governor, Dan Gibson first provided a method to collect secure online campaign contributions by credit card (Bishop designed Gibson’s site as well). Nick Walters’ campaign for Secretary of State combined his web site with campaign e-mails about his schedule and fundraising, an innovation at the time.

In 2000, a computer programmer named Lewis Napper from Jackson ran as a Libertarian against Senator Trent Lott. In 1993, Napper, incensed at a radio speech by Hillary Clinton, sat down at his keyboard and hammered out “The Bill of No Rights.” He e-mailed it to a few friends and it grew to an Internet legend, one of the early widespread Internet forwards.

Inspired by the egalitarian democratization of the news by folks like Matt Drudge, I launched MagnoliaReport.com in 2001 to provide news links, political rumors, and resources to the Mississippi’s online political consumers. The site continues today, operated by Josh Gregory at Frontier Strategies.

On the evening of December 5, 2002, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott made little noticed remarks at the 100th birthday party of Strom Thurmond. On December 12, President George W. Bush rebuked those remarks and eight days later, Lott announced he would resign his leadership position. In the week between the remarks and Bush’s rebuke, net-media researched, argued and screamed until the mainstream media followed the story. The New York Post’s John Podhoretz called it “The Internet’s First Scalp.”

In 2004, Alan Lange started JacksonsNextMayor.com to track the race between Frank Melton and Harvey Johnson for mayor of Jackson. The site morphed into the broader MississippiPolitics.com and then migrated to YallPolitics.com in 2006. “We are probably best known for our coverage of the Dickie Scruggs scandal. We have had millions of page views driven by that story,” Lange said.

Y’all Politics has received national attention and has joined about 70 conservative blogs nationwide to participate in the Pajamas Media syndicate with nationally known bloggers Glenn Reynolds and Michelle Malkin. “It is a huge honor to have been invited to participate,” Lange said.

Contrary to the national climate, Mississippi’s online presence has been dominated by conservatives. Now a more liberal online presence is growing.

Brian Perry
Neshoba Democrat
12/17/8