Kosgate in Slate
Moulitsas’ crime isn’t taking money from Howard Dean. He, too, can get away with a suspended sentence for insufficiently disclosing his role in the Dean campaign once he was off the payroll. The hanging offense is that Moulitsas took money from other, undisclosed, political clients. And while he may have disclosed—in 2003—that he wouldn’t disclose them, that’s not good enough. DailyKos raised money for a dozen congressional candidates this past election. Which, if any, of them paid Moulitsas for the honor of directing his grassroots minions to part with their wallets? If you gave one of Moulitsas’ preferred candidates money, wouldn’t you like to know if Moulitsas’ endorsement was purchased? …
The lesson for a campaign is obvious: Got a story you can’t convince a mainstream reporter to run? Leak it anonymously to a blog on your payroll. Then get a local reporter to write a story on the controversial, gossipy, local political blog. Soon everyone in town will be talking about the story you leaked to the blog. Voila! Eventually a mainstream news organization will run a story on the rumor that “everyone is talking about.” Or they’ll do a “what people are buzzing about on the Internet” piece. And no one will know that the blog post was a paid placement until after the election.
If Moulitsas takes money from political candidates in 2006 and 2008 without telling you who’s paying him, stop giving his recommended candidates your dollars. Here’s what Moulitsas wrote about payola pundit Armstrong Williams’ assertion that “There are others” on the government dole: “Until names are named, we can assume every conservative pundit is on the White House’s payola rolls.” That’s questionable logic, but let’s take Moulitsas up on his challenge: Until names are named, we can assume every Daily Kos candidate this past election wrote him a check for his consulting work.
Another tidbit that Suellentrop doesn’t point out: all of the candidates endorsed by Markos “Screw Them” Zuniga lost their elections.
UPDATE at 1/15/05 3:11:58 pm:
Hugh Hewitt has quite a bit to say about the issue, and about his appearance on the Bill O’Reilly show. He states:
Bloggers should disclose —prominently and repeatedly— when they are receiving payments from individuals or organizations about whom or which they are blogging. Period.
I agree; and here is LGF’s Full Disclosure.
UPDATE at 1/15/05 4:24:21 pm:
PC Magazine columnist John C. Dvorak notes that the reaction of lefty bloggers to Kosgate leaves a lot to be desired: Screw Ethics Says Top Blogger.