Carol Platt Liebau

Friday, January 14, 2005

There's more this morning on the Dean campaign having paid two bloggers -- including Daily Kos -- during last year's presidential campaign.

According to this story in The Wall Street Journal, the author of DailyKos said he was paid a total of $12,000 and noted that he had posted a disclosure near the top of his blog that he worked for the Dean campaign doing "technical consulting."

For me, that defense doesn't cut it. "Technical consulting" sounds like one is advising the campaign on how to set up its internet communications system. Instead, if you read the rest of the story, the clear intent was to purchase favorable "buzz" from the Dean campaign in the substance of the Kos blog -- not just assistance with the technical aspect of the campaign. And it's not as though Kos was a true Dean believer from the beginning -- as this story makes clear, he was first an Edwards guy, then a draft-Clark guy, and then (and the story suggests only after he was hired by Trippi) was he a Dean guy.

In fairness, though, it appears that Kos did tell his readers at least once that he was on the Dean payroll, apparently on June 9, 2003. The Kos site is impossible (at least for me) to search on, but the entry was noted contemperaneously here and here.

Was that disclosure enough? I don't think so. It's clear that during the most heated parts of the primary campaign, no one recalled that Kos was actually on the Dean payroll. He presented himself as an independent commentator, as far as I can see. Maybe that's the lesson for all of us -- in '06 and '08, we should ask each and every pundit to have an extensive disclosure statement at the bottom of his or her blog.

In the meantime, however, as reluctant as I am to admit it (because his site is repugnant), there is a meaningful distinction between the Kos situation and that of Armstrong Williams -- most notably, that the relationship was admitted at the time, and (in contrast to Williams) didn't remain secret until after the termination of the contract.


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