The media zoo that was the annual Netroots Nation/RightOnline internet activism conferences duel is no more.
Liberal activists who have turned Netroots into one of the premier events on the progressive calendar actively worked to keep the smaller but often louder conservative RightOnline conference from horning in on its action after last year’s twin conferences in Minneapolis. RightOnline announced Thursday that this summer’s conservative confab will be held 3,000 miles away from, and a week later than, Netroots 2012.
Netroots 2012 will be held June 7-10 in Providence, R.I. RightOnline 2012 will be held June 15-16 in Las Vegas.
The progressives behind Netroots consider the move a victory. Netrootsers complained that RightOnline — originally founded to mirror the conference and purposely scheduled as geographically close to the liberals as possible — had turned the event into chaos.
The 2011 gatherings were certainly chaotic, and the two most viral moments came when the two conferences crashed together. The late Andrew Breitbart left RightOnline and caused a stir at Netroots down the block simply by walking around. A day or so later, several hijab-wearing Netroots attendees conference walked over to RightOnline to stage a “flash mob.”
All this commotion was excellent fodder for reporters covering the conferences in 2011. But it wore on Netroots’ organizers, who vowed to keep RightOnline away from the Providence conference by making the two big hotels hosting the conference sign a non-compete clause.
At the same time, RightOnline organizers started to question whether they needed to be right next to Netroots to get attention. The first RightOnline conferences were as much acknowledgements that the progressive left was doing a much better job online than they were anything else, and their goal was to show conservatives they needed expertise with the online tools fueling the progressive resurgence.
“We’ve reached the point where we no longer have to do that,” an organizer of RightOnline told TPM last year.
Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-funded group behind RightOnline, says they’re still out to stick it to Netroots.
“This year RightOnline once again goes head-to-head with NetRoots Nation, the largest annual gathering of radical left-wing activists,” read the AFP press release announcing the 2012 conference Thursday.
But going head to head from 3,000 miles away will be a tall order. AFP says it plans to win the battle of the conferences this time by having more fun.
“Las Vegas is a more interesting place to go,” AFP spokesperson Adam Nicholson told TPM.