Blogga Drama

In case you haven’t been following the sordid (yet still immensely boring) soap opera that is the Right’s attempt to deflect criticism over the Armstrong Williams kafuffle, the big stinking deal is that the Dean campaign paid Kos and Jerome at MyDD to be technical consultants, and so that supposedly proves that Lefty bloggers are just as corrupt as a professional journalist who accepts payola from the administration to hawk their education program.

Yawn. Kos and Jerome both disclosed their paid relationships with the Dean campaign, and Jerome even stopped blogging during the period he was a consultant for them. I don’t even read Kos that often, and I knew about his consultancy, so I can’t believe anyone would think there was an attempt to hide it. (If you care to get some of the details, see Kos’ here, and no doubt he’ll continue to post on it. Digby’s got some good analysis here and here, too. And you can find stuff at Pandagon, among others.)

I’m sure this will have some annoying and difficult consequences for Lefty blogges in general, and Kos and Jerome in particular, but the big issue at the moment is that it’s taking the focus off what Armstrong Williams and the administration did, the key difference between the situations being that Kos and Jerome are not professional journalists, the Dean campaign was a private organization using private money, and the relationship between them was disclosed, whereas Williams is a professional, the Department of Education is part of the government, and the quarter-million dollar payout to Williams came out of our collective pockets. That should be the end of the story, but now Novak, O’Reilly, et. al. are on the case, so it’s not likely to die anytime soon.

Ultimately, I guess I think the whole thing is stupid, because I don’t think bloggers have the same responsibilities as professional journalists, particularly in terms of objectivity. Anyone who tunes in the Kos or MyDD or Atrios or Altercation or Druge or Instapundit or any other political blogger you can think of knows that they’re getting news favoring a particular viewpoint, which is probably the exact reason they tune in. If you’re reading Kos or Drudge expecting objectivity, you’ve got bigger problems than worrying about whether they’re on someone’s payroll.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with delivering news with an ideological bent; in Britain, it’s well-known which papers are liberal and which are conservative, because the papers themselves acknowledge it, and people buy whichever rag is most aligned with their own viewpoint. Even Fox news’ conservative bias doesn’t bother me; it’s their claims of objectivity that do. If they would just admit their position, I wouldn’t care what lies they were spewing because at least it would be under an honest banner.

Bloggers should be regarded as the same as British newspapers—delivering news from a specific and identified political perspective. And if a blogger is hired by a political campaign to serve in any capacity, disclosing the relationship should be good enough. Such an arrangement shouldn’t be seen as undermining a blogger’s credibility, since a political blogger’s credibility isn’t based on objectivity in the first place; it’s based on delivering fact-based opinions on the issues. Just as a reader can choose to reject a blogger’s conclusions about a particular news story, so they can choose to reject a blog altogether if the author’s relationship with a political candidate is outwith the reader’s sense of acceptability.

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