Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bottom line: Caveat emptor

The Daily Caller offers up a lurid tale of bloggers corrupted by political cash ... or something like that [hat tip -- The Other McCain]:

Katie Couric once described bloggers as journalists who gnaw at new information "like piranhas in a pool." But increasingly, many bloggers are also secretly feeding on cash from political campaigns, in a form of partisan payola that erases the line between journalism and paid endorsement.

Well. That doesn't sound too good, does it?

But frankly, I don't see the problem. Or, rather, I don't see that the problem exists as framed in that paragraph.

First of all, most bloggers don't pretend to be "journalists." We're opinionated SOBs, and what we're purveying is our opinions. Some bloggers actually are journalists by current or former trade, and most of those (the aforementioned Other McCain being a prime example) take care to visibly separate the "just the facts, ma'am" stuff from the opinion stuff.

I won't say that we can't be bought, but if we're bought, there's about a 99% chance that what we sold was the opportunity to have us say what we were going to say anyway, albeit perhaps at a higher tempo and/or with greater apparent conviction.

To put it another way, I don't think there's a brown paper bag big enough to hold the cash it would take to get (to pick two more or less at random) Pamela Geller to endorse Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf for Congress or Markos Moulitsas to come out for Palin/Tancredo 2012.

It just ain't gonna happen, and if it did happen their credibility and their audiences would evaporate like a saucer full of water at noon in Death Valley without moving the polls so much as a millimeter their corrupters' way.

Should you read blogs with wary eye for hidden agenda stuff? Sure.

Should bloggers be honest, and perhaps even "transparent" via disclosure to a degree, about how they make their money? I think they should be, I try to be myself, and I think most bloggers are actually more honest than most "mainstream journalists" about their motivations ...

... but most of all I think that any mechanism to compel those things would cost more in chilling effect on honest opinionists than it would gain in compliance from dishonest political whores.

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