January 27, 2006 1:12 PM PST

Blog empire mixes sports, politics

Most aficionados of political blogging know Markos Moulitsas is the man behind the liberal blog DailyKos.
Markos Moulitsas
Markos Moulitsas

But what's not so well known is that Moulitsas, a 34-year-old Berkeley, Calif., resident, is also the CEO of a network of sports blogs called, appropriately enough, SportsBlogs. The network created by the lifelong Chicago Cubs fan already has 43 different sites covering sports such as baseball, football, basketball and cycling.

Though he's an entrepreneur of the Internet age, Moulitsas has taken a cue from old-fashioned big city newspapers, where politics on the front page and sports on the back page were the keys to success. Though his first passion is politics, he thinks it makes sense that he'd also be involved in the world of sports--and blogs.

"It's that intense partisanship and team loyalty that are really, really similar," he said. "And blogs really appeal to partisans. It's a brilliant platform for people who are passionate about things."

These are heady times for Moulitsas. He was recently profiled at length in "Washington Monthly" magazine; he was invited to explain the power of blogs to a group of Democratic senators after the 2004 election; and on the strength of the $1 million he helped raised in 2005 for progressive candidates, he's now known as a fund-raising powerhouse on the political left. His site has become so influential that Democratic bigwigs like Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Barack Obama and Rep. John Conyers have posted diaries there.

On both ends of the political spectrum, Moulitsas is seen as the king of the political blogs.

"He's a one-man blog empire," said Glenn Reynolds, who writes the popular conservative blog Instapundit. "He's achieved an astounding degree of influence, and it's really quite impressive what he's pulled off."

"I thought it would be hypocritical for me to be a hawk and never put myself in the position where I could be sent to war."
Not bad for a guy who grew up a Reagan Republican and spent part of his childhood living in El Salvador. He was born in Chicago but left for El Salvador--his mother's home--when he was four. His family fled in 1980 as the civil war raged, and they returned to Chicago.

Looking for independence immediately after high school and thinking about a future in politics, Moulitsas joined the Army.

"I harbored illusions of someday running for office," he said, "and I thought it would be hypocritical for me to be a hawk and never put myself in the position where I could be sent to war."

After his service, he went to college at Northern Illinois University, and then to Boston University School of Law.

He said the bonding experience of the military, where soldiers were taught to look out for one another, turned him away from a GOP he thought didn't share that "all in this together" attitude. And after the hullabaloo of the 2000 presidential election, he became a more active blogger.

DailyKos was "just a place for me to vent. I was driving my friends and family and co-workers crazy with my rant. It was just a way to get it off my chest."

In 2002, he started Daily Kos, not as a community site that would eventually draw nearly 5 million readers a week, but as a place where he could sound off about his growing anger.

"It was just a place for me to vent," he said. "I was driving my friends and family and co-workers crazy with my rant. It was just a way to get it off my chest."

Today, though, DailyKos (after his army nickname "Kos," from "Markos") has thousands of members, many of whom post frequent "diaries." It's that willingness to bring in diverse, if like-minded, voices that has made the blog so popular.

"He does something different," said Reynolds. "He built a community, and I think that's an interesting approach. DailyKos is a blog, but it's a lot more than that, whereas my blog is just a blog. His is a front door to a whole community. It's sort of like Slashdot."

To some, it's Moulitsas' aggressive, confrontational style that has led to his political success.

"People like that," said John Aravosis, who runs AmericaBlog, another popular liberal blog. It's a very "take-no-prisoners style. It's a style

CONTINUED: Impressive and worrisome…
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