Daily Kos: Bought and Sold by Dean
Well, here’s a shocka.
Markos “Screw Them” Zuniga, the proprietor of moonbat lefty site Daily Kos, was paid—apparently well paid—by the Howard Dean campaign: Financially Interested Blogging. (Hat tip: Abu Maven.)
I think the ethics question is a serious one, which I’ve brought up elsewhere and fought with Markos Zuniga, and several others in the blogosphere, about. In this past election, at least a few prominent bloggers were paid as consultants by candidates and groups they regularly blogged about.
There is a big difference between bias and direct financial interest in the subject of your blogging. The temptation and culture is ripe for interested blogging, and its already happened a lot in politics — I am sure it happens in other fields as well.
On Dean’s campaign, we paid Markos and Jerome Armstrong as consultants, largely in order to ensure that they said positive things about Dean. We paid them over twice as much as we paid two staffers of similar backgrounds, and they had several other clients.
While they ended up also providing useful advice, the initial reason for our outreach was explicitly to buy their airtime. To be very clear, they never committed to supporting Dean for the payment — but it was very clearly, internally, our goal.
This is now getting routine — Simon Rosenberg hired Matt Stoller, presumably not just because he’s got good ideas, but because he already has a “commentator,” “spokesperson,” role within the blogging media. The scale is infinitely smaller, but its odd to live in a world where we don’t blink when commentators are hired as spokespeople. Imagine Howard Dean hiring Maureen Dowd!
UPDATE at 1/13/05 8:50:48 am:
Until names are named, we can assume every conservative pundit is on the White House’s payola rolls.
UPDATE at 1/13/05 9:12:33 am:
Also see this post from 2003, in which Zuniga reveals he’s taking money from the Dean campaign, claims (contrary to Zephyr Teachout’s statement above) that it was solely for “technical” advice, and tells his readers that if they don’t like it, screw them: Daily Kos: Full Disclosure.