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T Boone Pickens and Bloggers' Big Tent

Billionaire oil man T. Boone Pickens stopped by The Big Tent this morning to talk to bloggers about his plan to end American dependence on foreign oil.

Pickens believes that the United States is the “Saudi Arabia” of wind. He argues that America can reduce its dependence on foreign oil by 1/3 in 10 years providing the country invest in wind generation plants and utlilize domestic natural gas resources.

Pickens’ address to bloggers is a testament to how much more respect and influence bloggers have in this election compared to in 2004. About 500 bloggers have credentials to cover the convention in much the same fashion as the mainstream media. That number is three times the blogger count for the 2004 election.

Among the most influential alternative news sites is Daily Kos , a liberal blog written by Markos Moulitsas. The blog has more than 17 million monthly visitors. Kos is a sponsor of the Big Tent along with social news site Digg, Google, and others.

Like the media tents near the Pepsi Center, the big tent is equipped with free Wi-Fi (some of the best in the area, despite the heavy traffic on the network). But it is also equipped with a stage and auditorium seating for regular panels and a television screen with some of the latest blogger reports from the event. Among the headlines: "Joe Biden's pro-RIAA, pro-FBI tech voting record," "Men Confess on Assassination Plot: "Because Obama Is Black," and "Police Slam Code Pink Protester to the ground."

The media tent is much more siloed with each publication having its own area equipped with computers and a television screen broadcasting the speeches in the Pepsi Center.

The bloggers are aware of their growing influence. In a panel after Pickens' talk, a group including members of and Howard Dean's 2004 campaign discussed how bloggers have changed political coverage. Among the examples of the blogs' influence cited by the panel was the news coverage of McCain's large number of houses, which bloggers began discussing in response to criticism that Obama was elitist. The mainstream media followed the coverage, asking McCain how many houses he had. McCain replied that he didn't know the exact number off hand.

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