First, there's the assertion of of an unnamed "Republican campaign operative" who says "It’s standard operating procedure" to pay bloggers in some way other than simply buying the ads that you see on the blogs.
Second, there's one blogger — Aaron Park, writing for Red County — who turned out to be a paid consultant for a particular candidate. Park got kicked off the blog for that, which indicates it's not the norm. Now Red County was also getting a lot of ad money from the candidate's opponent, and the article indicates that it was way more money than the blog's traffic seems to justify. But is that the "partisan payola" we're supposed to worry about, the way strategically placed blogs can command big ad rates from candidates?
Florida political blog Shark-Tank.net, which reaches about 15,000 viewers per month, is asking campaigns for $3,200 a month for a large banner ad. For that same price, an advertiser could purchase similar space on political blogs reaching over 1 million readers each week.They're asking. Are they getting? But anyway, there's nothing wrong with a publishing project that is targeted to readers that particular advertisers will want to reach. What's wrong with a political blog getting into a lucrative niche? It will need to draw readers too or it won't get the advertising, and no one can make people read. It's a built-in safeguard. Really, what is the problem?!
It's so annoying to read an article like this. The headline and first paragraph make you think it's a big exposé and the rest is a lukewarm mishmash.
ADDED: I skipped the stuff about Dan Riehl because it seemed to trivial to warrant lengthening the post, but obviously it's upsetting to Riehl and he's fighting back.
AND: Ace confesses:
Twice I had conversations with people in DC in which the notion of a pushing a story for pay was floated. The first time was years and years ago and was vague, more of a "You know this sort of thing happens some time" more than an offer, and I could have gotten in touch about it if I decided in favor of it. I decided it was unethical and never did.In case you're wondering, no one has ever even offered me money to blog something. I wouldn't do it, of course, but it never comes up — perhaps because I don't live in Washington, perhaps because (as a law professor) I don't look easy to tempt, and perhaps because it's just not something that happens.
The second time was about a year ago, more specific this time. And I did entertain doing it. I thought about it, and was tempted -- I did believe the basic storyline I was being asked to push -- and, frankly, everyone else in DC was getting paid (including fundraisers, consultants, strategists, mistresses...), why shouldn't I?
But I couldn't. I decided it was unethical again, and didn't do it, and also said I wouldn't do it in the future.