Roger L. Simon

Buying Bloggers

Like most people, bloggers want and deserve to make money for what they do, but the report in tomorrow’s WSJ that two bloggers — Jerome Armstrong and Markos Zuniga of the Daily Kos — were paid for their work as flacks by the Dean campaign is both distressing and pathetic. I don’t care whether these bloggers may have “disclosed” their backing to one degree or another. The candidate’s bucks still turn whatever they do into press agentry.

I never heard of Mr. Armstrong until this evening but I had read the Daily Kos a couple of times and never went back, not because it was “left wing” — self-styled anyway — but because I thought it was badly written. Now I know why. It was the work of a hack. And before anyone gets on a high horse, of course I find that Armstrong Williams character, the recently revealed recipient of Bush Executive Branch payola, to be equally repellent. I just had higher hopes for blogs. So it goes.

It also goes without saying that I never would accept money from any party or candidate to front for them on this blog. Of course that’s easy to say because nobody ever asked me. Nevertheless, I thought the whole point of blogging is not selling out to anyone on your blog, not even an editor or a publisher. The minute you do that you might as well chuck it in. Go do infomercials. They pay better and the most damage you can do is giving some people false hopes about getting six-pack abs. I don’t know much about Zuniga’s abs, but these days I’ve got strong suspicions about his integrity.

UPDATE: I made a couple of bad late night mistakes in the above post that have been corrected. [What candidate paid for that?–ed. Boss Tweed.]