Townhouse is a closed by-invitation-only liberal listserv begun by blogger and Democratic campaign consultant Matt Stoller. Participants agree to keep their information exchanges confidential or risk being banned from the private Townhouse listserv.
Townhouse provides the online equivalent of a political backroom for Democratic Party-aligned advocates, consultants and lobbyists. On this closed listserv selected liberals -- including bloggers Glenn Greenwald, Markos Moulitsas and Atrios; film maker Robert Greenwald; leaders of liberal think tanks such as Robert Borosage of Campaign for America's Future; Wes Boyd, Tom Matzzie and other leaders of MoveOn; and other Democratic campaign and PR consultants -- can confidentially discuss and debate their issues, strategies and tactics.
An article on Salon.com reports "Townhouse began after the disastrous 2004 election, when young Democratic activists began meeting on Sundays for beers at Townhouse Tavern, a subterranean watering hole in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood. ... Here was the next generation of would-be D.C. power brokers, kids in their 20s and 30s who planned to mold the political future. At some point, Matt Stoller, the preppy enforcer of liberal blogging, helped organize the group into a formal e-mail list. ... Over time, the e-mail list and the Sunday afternoon boozefests grew. ... Through it all, Stoller controlled the membership. If you stayed in his graces, and met the group's qualifications, you got yourself a ticket to both the electronic and the alcoholic conversations. At all times, the whole enterprise was declared off the record, to be spoken of in hushed tones only with others who knew the proverbial secret handshake. ... the public introduction of Townhouse now presents the big-name bloggers and online activists with a transparency dilemma. On the one hand, bloggers like to talk of themselves as a democratic, grass-roots movement. (Moulitsas often conflates himself with the entire 'people-powered movement' in his blog posts.) On the other hand, the blogosphere boasts an emerging leadership elite, which is increasingly profiting on its insider status in both the Democratic Party and among one another."
Articles and resources
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- Matt Stoller, Photos of Townhouse bar at flickr.com, October 2005; also posted by Mark Spittle here.
- Jason Zengerle, "The Blogosphere's Smoke-Filled Backroom," The Plank Blog / The New Republic, June 21, 2006.
- Jason Zengerle, "The Power of the Purse Strings," The Plank Blog / The New Republic, June 21, 2006.
- kos, "TNR's defection to the Right is now complete," The Daily Kos, June 22, 2006.
- Jason Zengerle, "Here We Go Again," The Plank Blog / The New Republic, June 22, 2006.
- Tim Grieve, "Bloggers' double-super-secret smoky room," War Room/Salon.com, June 22, 2006.
- Steve Gilliard, "An ethics lecture from the New Republic is like a lecture on honesty from Tom DeLay," The News Blog, June 22, 2006.
- "Daily Kos: The Townhouse Affair," Little Green Footballs, June 22, 2006.
- Glenn Greenwald, "Does The New Republic have a new Stephen Glass in Jason Zengerle?", GlennGreenwald Blogspot, June 23, 2006.
- "Smoke-Filled Backrooms of the Internets," The Mahablog, June 24, 2006.
- jedmunds, "A New Twist In The Townhouse Saga," Pandagon, June 24, 2006.
- David Brooks, "Respect Must Be Paid," New York Times (True Blue Liberal), June 25, 2006.
- Mickey Kaus, "The Kosola Story Goes to the Moon! And Mark Warner's in a bind," Slate, June 25, 2006.
- Steve Gilliard, "About Organizing," The News Blog, June 25, 2006.
- "Smoke-Filled Backrooms of the Internets, Conclusion," The Mahablog, June 25, 2006.
- Matt Stoller, Insiders Have Blog Obsession Syndrome, MyDD.com, June 25, 2006.
- Lindsey Beyerstein, "Zengerle burned badly," Majikthise, June 26, 2006.
- Nonpartisan, "Why the Townhouse list is bad for those of us in the slums," MyDD.com, July 8, 2006.
- Mark Spittle, "More Kos Messages Leaked!" Spittle & Ink Blog, July 30, 2006.
- Daniel Shulman, Meet the New Bosses: After crashing the gate of the political establishment, bloggers are looking more like the next gatekeepers, Mother Jones magazine, June 20, 2007.
- Jonathan Stein, The New Bosses Congregate at YearlyKos, Mother Jones blogsite, August 3, 2007.
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