Blogger payola?

posted at 8:48 am on August 23, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Election season usually means better ad rates for bloggers and other on-line enterprises (and TV, radio, and newspapers as well), as demand for space increases and prices bump upward.  In a tough economy like this, campaign cash flowing into the system is good news indeed to people struggling to keep their heads above water.  For some, though, the money apparently provides too much temptation to go a little farther than just selling advertising, as the Daily Caller reports:

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.

“It’s standard operating procedure” to pay bloggers for favorable coverage, says one Republican campaign operative. A GOP blogger-for-hire estimates that “at least half the bloggers that are out there” on the Republican side “are getting remuneration in some way beyond ad sales.” …

One pro-Poizner blogger, Aaron Park, was discovered to be a paid consultant to the Poizner campaign while writing for Red County, a conservative blog about California politics. Red County founder Chip Hanlon threw Park off the site upon discovering his affiliation, which had not been disclosed.

Poizner’s campaign was shocked to learn of the arrangement, apparently coordinated by an off-the-reservation consultant. For Park, though, it was business as usual. In November 2009, for instance, he approached the campaign of another California office-seeker — Chuck DeVore, who was then running for Senate — with an offer to blog for money.

“I can be retained at a quite reasonable rate or for ‘projects,’” Park wrote in an e-mail to campaign officials. In an interview, Park defended himself by claiming, “nobody has any doubt which candidates I’m supporting,” and noting that his blog specifies which candidates he “endorses.”

But while Red County’s Hanlon expressed outrage at Park’s pay-for-blogging scheme, questions arose about his own editorial independence when it emerged that Red County itself had been taking money from the Whitman campaign.

For the record, I’ve never been approached for a scheme like this, nor has it ever occurred to me to put my credibility up for sale.  Of course, I’m also paid (and paid well) to write for Hot Air, which makes it perhaps a little too easy to get sanctimonious about this issue.  Still, I didn’t always do this for a living, and during the 2004 and 2006 election cycles, my previous blog was a struggling business enterprise like most everyone else’s. Not only did I not even contemplate it, I wasn’t aware of it occurring at all among my peers.

This seems to have the same problem of scale, too.  The Daily Caller has a few data points in its article, but they all seem to be connected to California campaigns.  I’m not sure that this translates to a wide problem, but if so, it could be very damaging.

In the radio and television industry, this would be called payola, and it occasionally erupts into scandal.  Broadcast services are regulated by the government, and payola can lead to loss of broadcast licenses — which is why radio and television stations fire anyone even suspected of it.  In the film industry, though, no one thinks twice about “product placement” any more, even though it’s essentially the same thing, giving certain products sympathetic placement for buckets of cash.

Fortunately, blogs aren’t regulated by the government, at least not yet, but it’s stories like this that will give rise to demands for government to take action.  The Federal Election Commission has repeatedly hinted at imposing onerous requirements on bloggers that will create legal burdens too expensive for most to meet.  The hook will be undisclosed relationships with campaigns that turn blogs in effect into coordinated third-party efforts, and that could result in hefty fines for both the campaigns and the bloggers.  But the larger impact will be to discourage political blogging at all, as the cost of defending oneself from the inevitable complaints will be so high (even for the majority who are innocent of any such connections) that people just won’t bother to enter the market at all.

Even beyond that, though, it’s simply dishonest.  Plenty of bloggers get involved in election campaigns, and they make those connections clear by disclosing them o their blogs.  Deliberately failing to do that — and to market one’s blog as a paid outlet for politicians — puts people into Armstrong Williams territory.  It saps credibility and damages the ability of the blogosphere to effect political change in the long run.

Update: Dan Riehl responds to his inclusion in the story:

I devoted hours and hours of my own time over a period of months trying to coordinate an effort involving many top bloggers and the RNC to improve communications and legal, legitimate cooperation in a partisan sense. I stress that, as it was the RNC that made me aware of certain FEC restrictions, which we were careful to not violate. That’s why money wasn’t involved. I made phone calls, took meetings, paid Metro and lunch costs, all out of my own pocket because I am dedicated to improving the blogosphere in an ethical manner – as well as winning politically for Republicans at the ballot box. I won’t name which top bloggers were involved, but there are many that could vouch for these facts if they wanted to. If they want to stay out of it, that’s fine, too.

If I had done it as a consultant, I’d likely have charged in the tens of thousands of dollars. I didn’t. When all was said and done, the RNC asked me to write up a concise document based on the knowledge that was discovered from the process. It’s called knowledge transfer, actually. I promptly disclosed to all involved bloggers that I had a chance to make a few hundred bucks for doing that, and only thatand I was taking it, if there were no objections. If they had any objections, none were conveyed to me at the time. So, see, it never really was a secret. It was so insignificant, especially in light of the many, many hours of non-paid, volunteer work I had done in the effort, it never even occurred to me to disclose it on my blog. It was simply insignificant as compared to the larger non-paid effort.

The inclusion of Dan in this story looked to me like a non-sequitur anyway.  The story was about bloggers who take money to write hagiographic posts about candidates, not provide consultant services to organizations.  A lot of bloggers do the latter, while only a few do the former, or at least we hope.  Consultants should disclose those connections (which Dan apparently did), but that’s not payola by any stretch of the imagination.

Update II: Stacy McCain has a pair of responses to this story.  His inclusion in this story made even less sense than Dan’s; all Stacy suggested was that Republican candidates might want to advertise on friendly blogs.  That’s hardly earth shattering advice.


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Oooh, ouch. Yes, paid blogging on one’s own blog is very, very wrong, ESPECIALLY for a purported journalist.

WOnder how many responses to blogs, however, are paid placements. Any guesses? Could it be as high as 50 percent?

lizzieillinois on August 23, 2010 at 8:51 AM

For the record, I’ve never been approached for a scheme like this, nor has it ever occurred to me to put my credibility up for sale.

Just remember Ed ( & AllahPundit) it isn’t whether or not you sell out — it’s only how much you sell out for. And be up front about it.

rbj on August 23, 2010 at 8:52 AM

Fortunately, blogs aren’t regulated by the government

Check story about Philly charging for a blogging business license.

publiuspen on August 23, 2010 at 8:52 AM

For God sakes, the Washington Post and the New York Times are nothing more than Obama protection rackets. Who knows how much money and service bartering go on?

They are worse than any paid blogger as they represent themselves as independent entities.

rickyricardo on August 23, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Not regulated? That was yesterday! How quickly things change – Story this morning in Wash Exmnr that bloggers in Philly now have to obtain a buisiness license.

Larr

Larr on August 23, 2010 at 8:54 AM

Wait a minute… I was certain that Huckabee was paying Allahpundit for each of those “second look” posts?!?

myrenovations on August 23, 2010 at 8:57 AM

I’d be surprised if this was widespread, at least among blogs anybody reads. And I’d be VERY surprised if there were “hired guns” that advocate positions they don’t actually believe — I suspect the phoniness would probably show through in such an informal medium as a blog.

That said, I’m open to offers. Mama needs a new computer.

S. Weasel on August 23, 2010 at 8:57 AM

Guess some bloggers are moving into territory that the MSM HAS been covering, eh? ;)

I think those who are caught doing this should be known far and wide. In general, bloggers are trying to set examples, and keep a good reputation. This sort of stuff is never good for the image.

JamesLee on August 23, 2010 at 8:57 AM

Bloggers need to be up front about this or their credibility is shot. If they RNC wants to get the message out they can buy ads. Yes, I understand the media basically parrots the Democrat talking points, but that’s long been established. Bloggers need to be independent.

JammieWearingFool on August 23, 2010 at 8:58 AM

Can I get paid well by Hot Air for my outstanding comments?

Nethicus on August 23, 2010 at 8:59 AM

Katie Couric once described bloggers as journalists who gnaw at new information “like piranhas in a pool.”

This coming from someone who was an English Major in college.

Del Dolemonte on August 23, 2010 at 9:03 AM

@Larr: I was just about to post that link to Mark Hemingway’s Beltway Confidential post that at least one government is requiring bloggers to be licensed & to pay a hefty fee for the privelege!

leilani on August 23, 2010 at 9:04 AM

Bloggers place entire too much importance on themselves. In 5 years no one will know who they are.

csdeven on August 23, 2010 at 9:05 AM

Nethicus on August 23, 2010 at 8:59 AM

Great idea! I’m going to be richrichrich!

DrMagnolias on August 23, 2010 at 9:06 AM

But the larger impact will be to discourage political blogging at all, as the cost of defending oneself from the inevitable complaints will be so high (even for the majority who are innocent of any such connections) that people just won’t bother to enter the market at all.

Remember Ed, it doesn’t matter if you took the money. What matters is how effectively your critics make their case that you did.

Skandia Recluse on August 23, 2010 at 9:07 AM

Posting Katie Couric’s annual salary here would be relevant…

IntheNet on August 23, 2010 at 9:07 AM

Anybody who thinks that payola doesn’t still happen in radio and television is hopelessly naive. Not sure what can be done to maintain integrity in the blogging industry now, but the genie is out of the bottle.

gryphon202 on August 23, 2010 at 9:07 AM

- – - – - – - and I approved this message.

TimBuk3 on August 23, 2010 at 9:07 AM

You can bet the big media is going to swarm this one trying to find the Armstrong Williams of the blogging world, who was getting cash-for-stories (though unless they can find a blogger who obviously changed his or her position after getting cash from candidate or political action group X, the story isn’t going to resonate very long or far, outside of those who think they’ve found the Holy Grail of smoking guns that explains all of Obama and the Democrats’ problems).

jon1979 on August 23, 2010 at 9:09 AM

But JournoList was acceptable behavior from the “professional” media.

Good Lt on August 23, 2010 at 9:10 AM

For God sakes, the Washington Post and the New York Times are nothing more than Obama protection rackets. Who knows how much money and service bartering go on?

They are worse than any paid blogger as they represent themselves as independent entities.

rickyricardo on August 23, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Great point, who knows???

Rovin on August 23, 2010 at 9:10 AM

Ed:
In radio and tv, there may be more ads, but the rate actually goes down due to FCC law. Political rates have to be the lowest rate on the card for the 30 days before the election for candidates.

flytier on August 23, 2010 at 9:10 AM

Just to clarify a few points about the economics of political advertising:

Election season usually means better ad rates for bloggers and other on-line enterprises (and TV, radio, and newspapers as well)

This is and isn’t strictly true. Federal law mandates that radio and television stations sell air time to political candidates at their lowest rate, so that doesn’t bring in a bonanza of extra cash. What does help, though, is that the high demand for a finite amount of air time does drive up rates for other fourth-quarter availabilities. (Thanksgiving sales and Christmas gift advertising, which is totally apolitical, has the same effect.) Newspapers historically adhere to a fixed rate card based on circulation, so while political advertising may increase ad volume, it will not affect rates. (If anything, the Obama Recession has forced many newspapers to negotiate rates downward for the first time in order to sell space.)

In the film industry, though, no one thinks twice about “product placement” any more, even though it’s essentially the same thing, giving certain products sympathetic placement for buckets of cash.

This is true in federally regulated television as well, where product placements work in (non-news) program content about the same as in movies.

bgoldman on August 23, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Welcome back EdMo.

carbon_footprint on August 23, 2010 at 9:15 AM

I’m not going to defend this practice, but what’s the difference between “Payola/bloggers” and, say, the Democrat party hiring/paying ACORN, (using taxpayer dollars or outright payments for services during campaigns), while they perpetrate the fraud that they are a ‘non-partisan’ group? Why is the SEIU not required to disclose its alliance with the Obama Administration vis a vis “healthcare” (HCAN) (and vice versa)? When Obama has a photo op of “doctors” he is not required to disclose anything, and, ironically, it is left to bloggers to make these disclosures. Examples abound ad nauseam, and for our corrupt government to be outraged about this practice would be rather farcical.

Buy Danish on August 23, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Well, there’s also a question of where McCain-Feingold can start to crawl up your tookus. In our case, at the Swilling, when I became Marco Rubio’s Escambio County Volunteer Team Leader LAST SEPTEMBER, we made a conscious decision NOT to blog the Florida senate race because of my involvement with the campaign. (Oh, haven’t I missed some JUICY posts, thanks to THAT integrity check!) Our Marco Pensacola visits have been commemorated with photos, not commentary, mostly because I don’t want Bingley winding up in the slammer. He still has a daughter to put through college.

If only I’d known I could get money under the table ~ WHOA doggie! It doesn’t pay to be blonde sometimes.

tree hugging sister on August 23, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Obviously some bloggers are involved in campaigns of candidates and the honest ones not only admit it, but brag about it at times (take a bow, Jazz Shaw….and good job also). My problem with either MSM journalists or bloggers is when they have hidden agendas or secret bag men funding whatever they are up to. We all know that Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and their ilk are in the Democrats back pocket, although they market themselves as objective journalists, but really, who believes that nonsense?

I’m not going to mention any names, but some blogs are clearly on the dole from the George Soros, MoveOn.org and DNC; as much as there are some who are linked to the RNC and GOP funded affiliates. Sadly it takes a keen eye to often figure out who is real and who is just today’s talking points.

I’m glad that there are honest blogs, both left and right of center, who keep it honest and real.

simkeith on August 23, 2010 at 9:18 AM

For God sakes, the Washington Post and the New York Times are nothing more than Obama protection rackets. Who knows how much money and service bartering go on?
rickyricardo on August 23, 2010 at 8:53 AM

General Betrayus ad sponsored by MoveOn comes to mind. That doesn’t make it right for paid bloggers not to disclose their affiliation, but it will be interesting to see where the sanctimonious MSM come out on this issue.

Buy Danish on August 23, 2010 at 9:20 AM

myrenovations on August 23, 2010 at 8:57 AM

That’s why Ed said “I‘ve never…”

just kidding.

cs89 on August 23, 2010 at 9:21 AM

Isn’t there already a rule out that if someone plugs something on their blog or Twitter or where ever they have say if they were paid to promote it?

albill on August 23, 2010 at 9:26 AM

I say since both our First and Second Amendment rights are under attach, we should merge the licensure for the two:

You must attend a class before you can buy a gun, shoot off your mouth(fingers in the case of blogging or reporting) or see an abortion doctor.
As part of the class you get a background check to see if you are crazy or there is some other reason, like a criminal background, here legally and above the age of consent.
Then you can pay for a license to write/blog, own a gun or get an abortion license.
Then there is a 10 month waiting period. (They like gun waiting periods don’t they?)
Then you must report to the government each time you write, buy a gun or get an abortion.

Imagine how quickly we would get our 2nd Amendment rights back.

barnone on August 23, 2010 at 9:27 AM

This activity was uncovered in 04, in Virginia. Paid bloggers were part of Tim Kaine’s successful gubernatorial campaign.

It was also Democrat operative bloggers that “found” (read – wrote) the Wikipedia article about the word macaca, which torpedoed George Allen’s senatorial campaign in 06.

That said, as long as the Washington Post exists there is really no need to pay bloggers in Virginia.

TugboatPhil on August 23, 2010 at 9:28 AM

As many are saying here, I think this shouldn’t be a huge problem AS LONG as everyone is completely open and up front as to whether they are working for a campaign, either paid or volunteering, or not, and let readers decide how they want to take what they say.

Would the same thing apply, though, to people who write letters to newspapers? I see them every day, sounding just like blog comments, parrotting talking points from both sides. Are they going to be scrutinized like it looks like blogs will be now?

JamesLee on August 23, 2010 at 9:28 AM

I have a blog and will work for bribes. I want my graft!! I’ll support anyone or any cause for $$$. Standards? Standards are for the weak. Just ask your average progressive/liberal/democrat. ;)

evilned on August 23, 2010 at 9:28 AM

under attach

oops… attack

barnone on August 23, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Yes, this is a disturbing story. Dumb and wrong for both the bloggers and the campaigns.

And, by the way, I have never received such payola myself, nor have I been approached to do so.

WannabeAnglican on August 23, 2010 at 9:30 AM

I didn’t see Newsweek on that list.

faraway on August 23, 2010 at 9:33 AM

Looks like a republican hit piece to me…
And what about the Dem side? Soros, et al?

extreme! I tell ya! extreme!

golfmann on August 23, 2010 at 9:33 AM

Payment? For blogging? Wha…?

MadisonConservative on August 23, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Out go the pajamas.

In come the smoking jackets!

Shy Guy on August 23, 2010 at 9:37 AM

The problem with the Daily Caller is that they are using their connections within the conservative community to write ‘exposes’ of practices that are common on both sides of the aisle. In the original piece on page 2 they reference a couple of examples on the Left, but those examples are short and not particularly specific or in-depth. So this story propagates as a ‘scandal’ involving blogs and bloggers on the Right.

As I recall, the same thing happened when they ran the RNC ‘strip club’ (actually edgy L.A. night club) story.

It would be nice to see them go beyond this path of least resistance type of ‘investigation’ into political practices and really do some investigative reporting. Instead, what I see coming out of the Daily Caller strikes me as what their writers can come up with after a weekend of D.C. cocktail parties.

In any event, I’m surprised Ed didn’t provide at least a one-liner acknowledging that this practice occurs on the Left as well as the Right.

Y-not on August 23, 2010 at 9:39 AM

Katie Couric once described bloggers as journalists who gnaw at new information “like piranhas in a pool.”

Commenters, too! And so my gnawing at the edges begins. If you read Couric’s post, she was relaying a comment:

“Rebecca Jeschke of the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out to us…truth can rip through cyberspace as quickly as lies. Rumors like these are often squashed within minutes…as bloggers gnaw at new information like piranhas in a pool.”

As for Couric ever intimating that bloggers are journalists, well, I doubt that. (Fact-check me, you gnawers!)

Dusty on August 23, 2010 at 9:40 AM

And this is on top of the Zionist payola we get, right?

hoosiermama on August 23, 2010 at 9:40 AM

My new motto:

Will blog for food.

GrannyDee on August 23, 2010 at 9:46 AM

I’d like to think that bloggers who claim to be unbiased whle taking money to write favorable stories about politicians are among the bloggers few read. It’s not only poetically just, it also speaks well of the average blog reader.

Well, I’d like to think that.

apostic on August 23, 2010 at 9:53 AM

Bloggers place entire too much importance on themselves. In 5 years no one will know who they are.
csdeven on August 23, 2010

Sorry, I don’t agree- and there lies the problem. I read the political blogs during the day, while at work. Then I watch the news in the evening. There is no question that the news channels are reading the same blogs. They are taking their cue from Hot Air and the likes. So the blogs must stay legit! This reminds me of the Tea-Party meme- we have to police our own. The Left will use any dirt at all they can find to discredit this coming Conservative wave. Don’t give them any Red Meat.

humdinger on August 23, 2010 at 9:55 AM

The Daily Caller has a few data points in its article, but they all seem to be connected to California campaigns. I’m not sure that this translates to a wide problem, but if so, it could be very damaging.

DC has been very good with the scoops, but when I read this article earlier I thought they made too grand a generality with such scant evidence. If it’s true, then shine the light on the hypocrisy. But don’t infer that bloggers as a whole are doing payola. The SRM will run with this article…..

the Washington Post and the New York Times are nothing more than Obama protection rackets. Who knows how much money and service bartering go on?

rickyricardo on August 23, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Now there’s some payola!

conservative pilgrim on August 23, 2010 at 9:55 AM

If people knew just how common this is there would be several websites losing a lot of hits. I don’t care about the liberal media…we all know they are bought-and-paid for. But the pseudo-conservative bloggers that take money to promote a candidate…and then bash the other candidates who are often better qualified & more conservative…really disgust me. All of this is done before the primaries of course, because there is no need to try & influence the right so much on the general election.

DCJeff on August 23, 2010 at 10:06 AM

It saps credibility and damages the ability of the blogosphere to effect political change in the long run.

I value blogs like this as purveyors of information and opinion. It is a bullet in the magazine but not the only nor the most important bullet. I just don’t see the blogosphere having the ability to effect political change; certainly not by itself.

Extrafishy on August 23, 2010 at 10:10 AM

@Y-not on August 23, 2010 at 9:39 AM. What bothered you about the DC piece bothered me too. We can hope this is a one-two punch & there will be a follow-up article exposing just how completely the Democratic party has funded & controlled many of the top voices on the internet.

On the left, we have not just bloggers drawing paychecks but entire sites completely funded by wealthy patrons in the service of the Democratic Party agenda (Soros et al).

But the biggest scandal perhaps is, as Dusty touched on at 9:40, that we even have commenters at blogs drawing a per post remuneration from DNC-allied sugar daddies to disseminate canned talking points across the blogosphere & (most effectively) to masquerade as ‘true’ conservatives & actively work to divide the left’s opposition & undermine their own electoral power by encouraging their “fellow” right-leaners to make a statement by staying home or voting third party.

And we’ve all seen this, haven’t we? Like magic, they start coming out of the woodwork on right-side sites every daggum election season proclaiming their ‘true conservative’ bona fides & encouraging everybody on the right to shoot themselves in the foot because “both parties are the same”. I sat next to a guy on a plane once who does that for a living although he refused to give me his FR screen name, darnit.

leilani on August 23, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Given that I have made zero dollars blogging, is it wrong for me to wish for payola just to pay my bills at the moment? ;-)

cannonball on August 23, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Hmm, wonder if this might extend further to paying certain prolific commenters on popular blogs?

slickwillie2001 on August 23, 2010 at 10:25 AM

slickwillie2001

Isn’t that awful that you have to wonder some times?

tree hugging sister on August 23, 2010 at 10:30 AM

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.

But, of course, it’s perfectly acceptable for MSNBC, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc, etc, etc to “secretly” support one candidate or party…
/s

rmgraha on August 23, 2010 at 10:35 AM

The White House does not have to depend on paying journalist or bloggers for preferential coverage….

………they just call them up and tell them what to ask:

Milbank, Pitney spar over HuffPo-Obama exchange
Ben Smith Politico

Because the White House reached out to Pitney the night before about possibly asking a question submitted by an Iranian over the disputed election protests—a topic the HuffPo reporter has been doggedly covering—Milbank dismissed the exchange as “arranged,” “planted,” and an example of “stagecraft.”


I believe that whether it’s Nico Pitney, with “The Huffington Post,” or whether it’s Carl Cameron, with Fox News, the White House should not be calling somebody the night before saying, we are going to call on you if you ask a question on a particular subject asked in a certain way.

This is such a common practice that these liberals were arguing over who gets more attention from the White House..

The press is so relaxed with liberal bias and collusion with the White House that it actually tried to make money off of it:

A Sponsorship Scandal at The Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/11/AR2009071100290.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

By Andrew Alexander
Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Washington Post’s ill-fated plan to sell sponsorships of off-the-record “salons” was an ethical lapse of monumental proportions.

A key player in the controversy is Charles Pelton, who joined the company May 18 as general manager of a new Washington Post Conferences & Events business. A veteran of the events business who has a background in journalism, he provided The Post’s sales staff with the now-famous flier that sought underwriters for the July 21 dinner. It promised an evening of “news-driven and off-the-record conversation. Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No.” And it said participants could “build crucial relationships with Washington Post news executives in a neutral and informal setting.

How objective and professional…

With the exposure of the journolist showing journalist,pundits,and political advisors proclaiming themselves Obama’s ” unofficial campaign headquarters”…..
…America knows how bias the media is.
Gallup recently showed that just over 20% of America thinks the media has any credibility…..right down there with Congress.

I come to HotAir,Insatpundit,Dan Riehl and many others knowing that it is a conservative (or leans that way) site
that is going to bring the news with a conservative slant.
The same goes when I go to Huffpo or Kaus…they are liberal sites and I am expecting the liberal narrative.

If they are receiving money…they should disclose this.
It will not affect my opinion of them because I already know what ideology is in play when I click the link..

What matters most to me is that their blogging or reporting is factual.Are they giving me the facts and letting me make a decision.

When I no longer go to a media output entity or blog for the news…….it is not because they are making money on it….it is because I can’t count on them for a factual representation of issues.

Baxter Greene on August 23, 2010 at 10:39 AM

Bloggers paid to sit around in their underwear.
No photos please. That’s why God invented Victoria’s Secret.

jbinnout on August 23, 2010 at 10:43 AM

“Not only did I not even contemplate it, I wasn’t aware of it occurring at all among my peers.”

More evidence that you can’t cheat an honest man.

Thanks, Ed.

locomotivebreath1901 on August 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM

I don’t understand the difference between a blogger being paid to write for a politician and the White House giving a scoop to specific media outlet for good coverage.

The increased traffic due to a scoop is an indirect form of payment.

ButterflyDragon on August 23, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Not regulated? That was yesterday! How quickly things change – Story this morning in Wash Exmnr that bloggers in Philly now have to obtain a buisiness license.

Larr

Larr on August 23, 2010 at 8:54 AM

Here’s a situation just begging for a 1st Amendment lawsuit. If I live in Philadelphia, employ no-one, and take no remuneration for placing my opinion up on a website, how am I a business, and how can Philadelphia tax me merely for using the internet to express my 1st Amendment rights?

Apparently, they don’t. The blogger required to obtain a business license in Philly claimed profits from blogging on her income tax forms. In the case cited, the $300 business license for the woman is due to $50 paid to her over several years, each dollar of which she duly reported as the honest liberal type she is, as she ran her “green living in Philadelphia” website.

This is one reason why my personal blog has no advertising, and the last money I got for doing anything online was $50 fifteen years ago for pointing out to PC Magazine how Windows 3.1 appeared to have been written to run on top of DR-DOS rather than MS-DOS. Thankfully, at that point nobody in my city had come up with the thought that such a incidental amount counted as a business.

I suspect that Ms. Bess could claim that the place of business is where the wordpress.com server exists which serves her website, and that she performs an online commute to that place of business every morning. I’m betting that locale is nowhere near Philadelphia. Unfortunately, such games require a lawyer, and it doesn’t sound like Ms. Bess has the money for one.

unclesmrgol on August 23, 2010 at 11:13 AM

The entire reason that I’ve avoided the entire filthy lucre/lawyer bait money thing from the git-go. Entirely. Can proudly say that I’ve never taken a dime from anyone except my co-bloggers as fair share for hosting costs, and don’t even display a tip-jar on the site. My opinions aren’t for sale, even if someone were willing to give me money for them.

I applaud those who have turned what for me is a pastime into a paying gig – as long as there isn’t duplicity about what’s going on. Ed, AP, Michelle, Reynolds, and anyone else – more power to them all if they can put a jingle in their pockets.

Because the issue isn’t about money, it’s about deception, which should be roundly reviled whenever encountered, or else everyone is open to being MSM style meme merchants, trading in the coin of dishonesty. Which ultimately does no one any long term good.

Wind Rider on August 23, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Perhaps it’s time for an “American Association of Independent Bloggers”. Such a group would keep tabs on the offenders and promote those responsible sites with an annual “BLOGGIE”
award (shaped like a tricome colonial hat) for the best in each category of satire, politics (1 in the same?), technology and international affairs.

Sort of a media matters but with integrity.
I could be behind times in that there is already a organization in existence. Correct me if I’m wrong.

OkieDoc on August 23, 2010 at 12:04 PM

I don’t see paid placement as any different than newspaper placement ads. That said I think all it takes is educating people as to what is going on.

tarpon on August 23, 2010 at 12:06 PM

When they start paying the random, (non-trollish) commenters for comments is when we are in big trouble.

Often I find the (non-trollish) comments more educational and persuasive than the main article post.

Although I’ll admit that I have long had a suspicion that a few of our resident lefitsts are paid by the DNC or the Administration etc. for so persistently posting talking points and demonstrating their inability to use logic all day long. Can’t imagine why they would do it uncompensated.

LegendHasIt on August 23, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Where in hell is MY payola? Hell, Google STILL hasn’t sent me a check for the ads it places on my blog!

Not that I’d sacrifice my integrity for money, but it would be NICE if someone at least ASKED! What the hell am I? Chopped Liver?

Rorschach on August 23, 2010 at 12:59 PM

My collie says:

Actually, this explains a LOI.

Yeah. It’s becoming pretty clear that AllahPundit is NEVER going to say nice things about Sarah Palin.

My collie says:

Unless we PAY him to say nice things about Sarah Palin.

CyberCipher on August 23, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Any surprise at the presence of paid-to-pose-as-opiners practice is similar to an emotionally traumatic event among fans when they discover that their actor-idols aren’t, really aren’t, the characters they play on the screen.

I mean by that, that, in my experience, the disillusionment is by idealists — most of us, on the Right — who pursue beliefs more than we pursue party, versus the Left who consistently engages in “the end justifies the means” and thus, any means is used to grab their goal.

I’ve never accepted payment for blogging, nor for commenting. But there is no way in heck anyone can ever convince me that the Left/Democrats/their affiliated orgs. do NOT pay numerous people to peck away at computers in public commenting on higher-traffic sites during campaigns and during nominations of various Leftwing controversial individuals (social-issues reps.). After what I viewed/read on, say, Politico, last election (and year leading up to it), there is no way the many Leftwingers there in comments were not hired hands, paid to repeat DNC campaign points and lies and to browbeat anyone who attempted to present enlightenment to their dank, DNC darkness.

I accepted a few small dollar donations some time ago — of the “hey, I can buy a Starbucks today” amounts — but that’s as far as I’ve ever been involved in “online earnings”. I even disallow the Google adwords stuff and ran away from the suggestion years ago of some shared advertising revenue by “signing up” with others involved in such.

So, I admire anyone who decides to the contrary if and only if they make it clear in site and/or author descriptions on their sites that they’re being paid and by whom, or, participating in any circle-of-profit and from which if so.

Otherwise, the idea of individual sites offering opinions and information loses credibility for the author/site if and when they are engaged in payment for services and don’t disclose such on the site.

Lourdes on August 23, 2010 at 5:13 PM

I don’t understand the difference between a blogger being paid to write for a politician and the White House giving a scoop to specific media outlet for good coverage.

The increased traffic due to a scoop is an indirect form of payment.

ButterflyDragon on August 23, 2010 at 11:13 AM

I guess “increased traffic due to a scoop is” incentive enough for some, but I think the whole idea of ego-reward (or, vanity inducement) isn’t as popular among the persistent opinion-bloggers — especially among the Right — as you may imagine.

Increased traffic…that’s beneficial if a site is earning money from visit-count. But trends come and go but bloggers who just keep writing year in and year out, election after election, do so because they are engaged in something other than vanity, as regards site-traffic. I know that taking a lone position — one that goes against some “group think” or “talking point” position — can damage traffic but usually only for a while. Readers return in time when the offense of a unique opinion calms down. A lot of the “hey, we’re high traffic popular” sites tend to eventually assume that dreaded cosmetic (or, artificial, insincere) personality and people stop trusting them but, rather, tend to begin to disrespect them to a certain degree.

Lourdes on August 23, 2010 at 5:23 PM

What bugs me about a story like this, or a situation like the (alleged) arrangement between the Whitman campaign and Red County, is that every time a blogger promotes a candidate, there is now the question: Cui bono?

In general, I’ve backed longshot underdogs, many of whom were taking on the GOP Establishment candidate in contested primaries. When I first endorsed Marco Rubio, he was trailing Charlie Crist in the GOP priamary by 34 points according to Quinnipiac. Now? Charlie ain’t even a Republican anymore.

And mark my words: If J.D. Hayworth doesn’t win the Arizona GOP primary Tuesday, on Wednesday I will become the strongest advocate for whoever’s running for Senate on the Libertarian Party ticket. In the words of the Boss Emeritus, “John McCain is the problem.”

There are some things I’d do for money. Supporting John McCain isn’t one of them.

The Other McCain on August 23, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Payola? Where do I sign up?

Seriously, I’ll quote Tony Montana – “All I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don’t break them for no one. Do you understand?”

steveegg on August 23, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Finish the narrative, Ed: how much do you make? What`s the bottom line besides “None of your business, Sherman!!”?

Sherman1864 on August 23, 2010 at 7:22 PM