December 3, 2006

Bloggers who take money from politicians.

A handy chart, showing who got money, how much they got, and the embarrassing ass-kissing quotes they dished up. More here:
The trend seems certain to continue in 2008. Potential presidential hopefuls like Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain already are paying big-name bloggers as consultants...

“This intersection isn’t going away,” Jerome Armstrong of MyDD, an elite blogger hired by campaigns, wrote earlier this year, “and I hope more and more bloggers are able to work to influence how campaigns are run.”
And more and more bloggers will sell out their credibility. Politicians: If you're worried a blogger might undercut your campaign, know that about $2,000 a month will not only cut off the criticism; it will buy you a stream of free ads, written by a free ad writer. What a bargain!

47 comments:

stephenb said...

Prof. Althouse: Trying to supplement your income? I should think you'd be worth more that two grand a month.

Ann Althouse said...

Unfortunately or (fortunately), I'm not a blogger who does the kind of political commentary that would be obviously useful to a candidate, I have a high enough income that it would take a relatively large amount of money even to tempt me, and even if I were willing to sell my credibility the way Armstrong did, I would want even more to be worth changing my freewheeling ways here on the blog. The style and tone of this blog is immensely important to me. Even if someone offered me $10,000 a month just to blog in the style and at the rate I currently blog and not for promoting anything at all, I would hesitate to take it, because I don't want to be changed.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann:
My first thought was jeez these bloggers need an agent cause they are selling themselves cheap.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I have never been paid to write nice things about anyone (probably because I can't).

Icepick said...

If you're worried a blogger might undercut your campaign, know that about $2,000 a month will not only cut off the criticism; it will buy you a stream of free ads, written by a free ad writer.

They're not free if they cost $2,000/month. Cheap, maybe, but not free.

Cedarford said...

Perhaps Prof Althouse opinion on paid bloggers reflects her legal background - credibility is essential. Law is one of many professions where a perception of being bought by anyone - reducing learned opinion to a matter of dollars and cents, makes one damaged goods.

Anyways, IMO, bloggers bought by actual political campaigns is the tip of the iceberg. The real money going to bloggers is in 527s funded by the likes of Soros, the Russian oligarchs, Saudi lobbies.
And NGOs and Foundations that are willing to "reconsider" certain stances if large individual or corporate donors in turn tie their donations to it.

Bloggers so bought are tertiary, perhaps 4, 5 times removed from the original money tied to expressing and advocating a certain view.

Readers should always have a certain skepticism, especially intitially. It was only at age 13 or so that my dad convinced me that not everything in the NYTimes was true.

Mark the Pundit said...

I'm amazed that Armostrong was paid much more than other bloggers on the list. Did he also give astrology advice?

SGT Ted said...

I notice most of them are left leaning. The end justifies the means.

Tim said...

Unsurprising. Often the ones who scream loudest about principles are the ones most interested in the money.

How much longer until someone seeks to create a "blogger's code of ethics" regarding financial disclosure?

knoxgirl said...

Gosh, lots of people from kos on that list. I guess self-righteousness is directly proportional to the $$$.

Elizabeth said...

The article ends with "here is a list of some of the bloggers..." and points to the chart. Some? I'd sure like to know the methodology behind this. Who else out there is taking money and calling themselves a "citizen journalist"?

I've never followed MyDD, and am irked with them lately for sending an activist/journalist to cover the runoff for Bill Jefferson's seat. There's been a wave of such bloggers grandly announcing their sojourns to New Orleans to find out what's really going on down there, completely oblivious to the fact that there's a strong corps of bloggers covering the political spectrum at work here, who are quite good at writing about what's really going on. I avoid all blogs that reek of condescension, no matter their political bent.

reader_iam said...

From my point of view, this is just a variation on an old, old theme--"purity/calling of journalism" vs. "sold-out flacks." The lines can get pretty blurry, and the arguments from both sides pretty self-serving, but so what else is new? (And while Armstrong, for example, has no credibility for me, that would true whether he makes 2 cents or $2 million.)

I think disclosure is important, but beyond that, I can't get very worked up about this.

Oh, and with very rare (even notable) exceptions, I don't buy the "citizenjournalism" thing, and haven't from Day One. 'Cause mostly it ain't journalism: it's commentary , at best, and axe-grinding at worse. Whether there's money attached to it or not as beside the point.

Daryl Herbert said...

I'd sure like to know the methodology behind this. Who else out there is taking money and calling themselves a "citizen journalist"?

The thing is, if people don't come out and disclose, we would probably never find out about it. So that's not something that's even possible to accomplish.

What does journalism have to do with writing opinion on a blog? A "citizen journalist" is an amateur who goes out an commits acts of journalism. When people like Instapundit praise citizen journalism, they aren't praising opinion writers, they're praising bloggers who actually gather information and report on it.

For example, the Rathergate scandal. A bunch of highly-opinionated commenters at places like Free Republic and blogs like Little Green Footballs committed senseless acts of journalism to expose and bring a story to the American public. Citizen journalism is a real and really important phenomenon, even if 99.9% of all bloggers have never attempted it in a substantial way.

reader_iam said...

How "real and really important" a phenomenon can it be if only 0.1 bloggers have ever really attempted it "in a substantial way"?

(That's not my number--I'm extrapolating from yours.)

reader_iam said...

"0.1 of all bloggers"

reader_iam said...

Elizabeth: Just a thought, but "real" journalists do what they do for pay. Is being paid, per se, the real issue?

knoxgirl said...

I don't buy the "citizenjournalism" thing, and haven't from Day One. 'Cause mostly it ain't journalism: it's commentary , at best, and axe-grinding at worse.

I'll take that one step further... I don't believe anyone should buy "journalism" much anymore, citizen or otherwise. Not that both endeavors aren't worthy, but there are very few objective fact-finders out there, with no axe to grind. You have to take it all with a grain of salt.

AJ Lynch said...

Reader Iam asked:

Paraphrasing here - "is paid journalist the issue?"

Journalist is defined as [1] a person who practices the occupation or profession of journalism and [2] a person who keeps a journal, diary, or other record of daily events.

So just about anyone qualifies especally a blogger. I think Elizabeth, like most of us, would like more transparency from all. If you got paid by someone and it may have some influence on why and what you wrote- then disclose it.

The elaborately hidden tentacles and influence of political parties, 527's, NGO's, large non-profits, and the enormously wealthy activists of every stripe are really greasing the wheels today. More than ever in my opinion and that is not a good thing. They even go so far to brag they are grass-roots groups.

knoxgirl said...

They even go so far to brag they are grass-roots groups.

Yes, especially galling.

Bas-O-Matic said...

Keep it real, sister.

amba said...

about $2,000 a month will not only cut off the criticism; it will buy you a stream of free ads, written by a free ad writer. What a bargain!

If they cost $2000 a month they're not "free" any more.

vw ipnpuns

amba said...

LOL. I hadn't read all the comments and now I see Icepick took the words right out of my mouth!

reader_iam said...

Journalist is defined as [1] a person who practices the occupation or profession of journalism and [2] a person who keeps a journal, diary, or other record of daily events.

I'd argue that there's a distinction between the two definitions, both from a sheer linguistic standpoint AND from having done both things (the former for pay, the latter for free), but whatever.

Ann Althouse said...

I said "free" on purpose. The transaction is ostensibly about something other than the purchase of ad space and ad writing. If it had been structured overtly as such, it would have looked different -- and the ads wouldn't be embedded in the ordinary writing. I'm not sure exactly what the blogger purports to sell, but after he does that, he performs the other work as if it were freely given. Of course, in substance, the ads are bought and paid for. This is what is corrupt about it. My post is written the way it is as a criticism of the blogger who sells out his integrity.

Ann Althouse said...

Imagine if a journalist took money from a candidate, then wrote articles containing praise for the candidate. You wouldn't say the candidate bought ads. The corruption would be blatant.

Now, if a blogger discloses, it's not corrupt. It just turns the blog into crap.

Doyle said...

Unsurprising. Often the ones who scream loudest about principles are the ones most interested in the money.

So the fact that they receive extemely modest (with the possible exception of Armstrong) sums proves that they are "the ones most interested in the money"? Ridiculous.

Doyle said...

Jeez that sounds really nefarious. I wouldn't call that paid advertising either. Who would do such a thing?

Hatcher said...

Cedarford: Not a snark. But if you can name a blog being paid for by the Saudis, I'd appreciate a link or citation. Thanks.

reader_iam said...

Just to be clear: When I wrote that I'd been a journalist for pay, I meant I'd been newspaper journalist--not that a politician had paid me while I was a journalist (or under any other circumstance, as it happens).

Sheesh. I nearly started a rumor about myself!

reader_iam said...

I'm much more careful and precise when I'm being paid.

; )

Lou Minatti said...

I thought the new campaign finance laws were supposed to put a stop to this. I don't trust any paid bloggers shilling for politicians.

Nor do I trust well-known bloggers when it comes to reviewing umpteen digital cameras, books, cookware (?!) and other products found on Amazon. At least not until there is a prominent disclaimer that says, "I receive a referral fee each time one of my readers clicks on the link to Amazon and buys one of these products that I write about," rather burying it an FAQ that no one reads.

Elizabeth said...

Elizabeth: Just a thought, but "real" journalists do what they do for pay. Is being paid, per se, the real issue?

No, I don't it is, reader. I think one issue that bloggers tend to be opinionated, so they're not reporters (as has been pointed out here already.) So on one hand we can think "well, sure, you support this candidate or stand on an issue b/c you're being paid to support it." Just as likely, though, a blogger being paid by a campaign is already a supporter of that candidate.

Professional journalism outlets get money from advertisers, including candidates. We accept that these outlets separate their editorial and financial departments.

I've seen claims out there in the blogosphere that blogging is a threat to traditional journalism, but I tend not to think so, and this issue is a good illustration. It's certainly a type of journalism, but it's not really reporting. I take everything I read in a blog with scepticism, and in context of what I know about the blogger. Taking money from candidates is just one piece of info.

Cedarford said...

Hatcher said...
Cedarford: Not a snark. But if you can name a blog being paid for by the Saudis, I'd appreciate a link or citation. Thanks.


Start with the Muslim Students Association. Try CAIR's website and blogspot. Or keep in mind the Saudis pay the salaries of Mullahs here who blog on sites frequented by US Military personnel, kids interested in Islam, prisoners, or ex-cons.

As I said in my post, it isn't just direct payment by an individual but someone a few times removed or a 527 under some wealthy person or group's control that are the "buyers" out there.

Think of George Soros and his minion's work in setting up and paying Bloggers like Oliver Willis.

With NGOs blogs or various individuals, you should see if a money trail exists, and if so, follow the money to discern if the money talks.

Anonymous said...

Good for those who can make money at it, although I tend to think that their usefulness declines precipitously once it is known that they are paid to post whatever it is they have posted (or forbidden to post about something because they are paid).

As for the volunteer partisans who repeat (and repeat, and repeat - over and over and over again)whatever the fax from party HQ says are the talking points of the day: they ought to demand compensation because everyone thinks they are paid anyway. (And just about as effective, I bet.)

(For the Record, this is Internet Ronin now using a third highly-flawed Google sign-in account. WARNING: DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR BLOGGER ACCOUNT like I did if you primarily post commments on other blogs. You will NOT be able to do so after about 10 comments. Same holds true for new accounts, which is why I am now on my third. This sucks.)

Anonymous said...

Wow! How refreshing! A comment that actually got published instead of this idiot error message:

Error
We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are unable to process your request at this time. Our engineers have been notified of this problem and will work to resolve it.

After 9 days of that, it is hard to believe that anyone is working on it ;-).

Ernst Blofeld said...

"the fact that they receive extemely modest (with the possible exception of Armstrong) sums"

A couple thousand a month is not extremely modest. It's not even modest. It's fairly serious coin. In many places you can make a house payment with that kind of money.

AJ Lynch said...

Thanks Ronin for the advice. Google has been asking me to update and and I just say no. Guess it won't be long before they charge us for blogspot.com blogs.

And Doyle, most commenters here condemn the Armstong Williams deal but we also know prior admins did the same stuff so don't try to equate moral equivalence of his $200-$300K deal to folks like Soros or Peter Lewis spending $50-$100 Million to influence elections.

And FYI, the Senate's filthiest & richest members are Democrats. Many of whom spents millions to plant their vanity seat figuratively on the public's face.

I suggest you open your eyes and put the koolaid away.

Anonymous said...

Question: What could you buy in 2002 with $21,000,000* of your own money in Washington state but cost $63,000,000 in New Jersey?

Answer: Your own personal seat in the United States Senate.

Question: Is there a good reason no serious candidate opposes John Kerry when he is up for election?

Answer: No, but there are 800,000,000 million of them.

*When Maria Cantwell ran in 2002, she claimed she was beholden to no one because she was using her own funds to get elected. After the election, she raised millions from special interests to repay her "loans" to her campaign.

FYI, the COMBINED spending by Clinton and Lazio in New York at the same time Corzine was running in New Jersey was a mere $55 million in a state about 3 times as large.

All thanks to the fine folks at campaign "reform" central and their ridiculously low limits on donations.

Eli Blake said...

Prostitutes come in many forms.

What will be next, a 'blogger pimp?'

You know,

"Give me $30,000 and I'll spread portions of it around to generate twenty attacks on your opponent's minor gaffe in the next news cycle." Then (s)he texts or emails some people on a 'hit list' and has them all write about the same thing, all for a cut of the cash.

Heck, I can see it now. An English professor by day-- "Now class, today we are going to all get on-line and write an in-class essay on, 'Why it is an outrage to use the word, 'macaca.'"

Don't laugh. In any business that involves selling something under the table, sooner or later someone will decide they can even make more money by organizing it so the people who are buying can get the same result with just one phone call.

The question is, if being a blog prostitute is legal, what about being a blog pimp?

A Hermit said...

Glover is full of crap. Most of the bloggers he mentions in his article and chart, except for a couple of Republicans, fully disclosed their new paid positions, or shut down their blogs or stopped blogging.

What's so surprising about the idea that political activist bloggers might move from independent, unpaid advocacy to paid employment?

To Glover's credit he does link to criticisms of his silly piece; like this one

Eric_Jaffa said...

You imply that every blogger is willing to go from critic-to-supporter for $2,000/month.

However, you don't name EVEN ONE blogger who did so.

Conservative radio host Armtrong Williams, on the other hand, did go from critic-to-supporter of "No Child Left Behind" after being paid by the Bush Administration.

AJ Lynch said...

Eli Blake asked:
"The question is, if being a blog prostitute is legal, what about being a blog pimp?"

They are both legal but the pimp gets to wear realy cool clothes- big collar shirt, shoes with heels that have goldfish inside the heels, and of course a Superfly hat.

And Eric Jaff asked for an example of a blogger who went from critic to supporter:

Eric , the article and Ann pointed out several examples of bloggers who went from partisan shill to PAID partisan shill.

The politician would have to be really stupid to hire blogger who is an adversary plus if it were a highprofile blog like Kos or Hugh Hewitt, I think the public would figure it out. So, I don't think you are going to find your example and I still say the Armstrong Williams case is and was busness as usual for recent presidents and that includes Clinton.

Ernst Blofeld said...

The campaigns think they're buying friendliness from the bloggers. The Dean campaign people said as much after they hired Kos in '04. They wanted him inside the tent pissing out.

Ann Althouse said...

Eric_Jaffa said: "You imply that every blogger is willing to go from critic-to-supporter for $2,000/month."

Hardly. Why would a campaign give money to someone who was completely on the other side? The money will go to people who are reasonably close, and they then give up their independence. Most of those people are probably pretty hardcore anyway, but it pulls them away from rival candidates and causes them to write more items and to write in more supportive language.

For example, you might think I support Bush, but I don't write much about him, and I tweak him when I feel like it. If I were the type to take money, I could easily make the effort to put up one favorable post a day. I wouldn't seem to have changed in some significant way, I don't think. But I would be giving a lot. $2000 a month would be cheap for that.

I'm not saying that that is what the bloggers on the chart did, however. I want to emphasize that I don't follow them, and I don't know the details about what they did. My post is just reacting to the numbers on the chart and the embarrassing, fawning quotes. The arrangement was disclosed, which is why we know about it. That is crucial for it not to be totally slimy, but the independence is still sacrificed, and, for me, that makes the blog not worth reading.

Verification word: cyuxhax. I look at the hacks and I laugh at them.

Alpha Liberal said...

I've not thought about this a lot, heard views from the subjects of this story or formed an opinion yet on this. For example, was the payment for some service not noted?

But I will note that many mainstream opinion formers and columnists do work for candidates. Don't know if they are paid for it, but would be surprised if they are not. Example: George Will working on coaching Presidential candidates (Bush I or Reagan.)

Also, just because the paper listed lefties does not mean the practice is limited to same.

Alpha Liberal said...

From the story:
"Few of these bloggers shut down their “independent” sites after signing on with campaigns, and while most disclosed their campaign ties on their blogs, some — like Patrick Hynes of Ankle Biting Pundits — did so only after being criticized by fellow bloggers."

I guess I'm not clear what the issue is here when people are revealing the income. Is it that people are earning money? Well, everybody's got to pay the rent/mortgage. Campaigns need to campaign in cyberspace, too, and why not get help from those who know their stuff?

There's an ASSumption and bad logic here that any payment must be corrupt, as opposed to legit commerce. You don't know what they're being paid for and the writer doesn't seem to, either. (I wonder if criticisms of the pol's in question from the bloggers in question could also have been found?)

(Good catch from Doyle in the comments how the White House has repeatedly paid reporters to place stories. Was this crowd as outraged then? Hmmm?)

Alpha Liberal said...

Here's an article critiquing the whole "if there are dollars it is corrupt" logic, with an exchange witht the aithor of the NYT piece.

lastAutumn said...

It is really awful and the volumes of paid blogs is increasing continuously. It's amazing how such a blogger can paint an image of a country or a man in the most dirty colours. And it doesn't add to their literary credits.