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More Combustion and Some Ashes


There have been a number of notes and letters about the earlier post about the “blogola” scandal.
Let me take a minute to respond and to make one important correction.
Matt Stoller, the commentator and on-line activist was not a Deaniac nor did he support Howard Dean’s campaign for president. “I never supported Dean,” Stoller writes. My apologies for the mistake.
Many of you have written to point out that DailyKos and MyDD have, in fact, endorsed Dean for the DNC chairmanship. They are. That’s why I said that they were endorsing “Rosenberg as an alternative to Dean.” Dean has only been in the race for the chairmanship – officially – for about a week. The two on-lines sites were – as good activists do – hedging their bets. They are now saying their first choice is Dean, their second is Simon. That’s two, not one, endorsement and it could serve to weaken Dean’s support.

There’s also been a lot of mail telling me that Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong aren’t journalists and should not be held to journalist’s standards of behavior. I agree. In fact, I tried very hard to make that point.
What I quarrel with is that the two sites are drawing that distinction in hindsight. They have not always been as clear as they are being now. That’s fine. This on-line stuff is an evolving business. But it’s a mistake to say that line has always been clearly drawn. It hasn’t. And that’s creating much of the difficulty in this conversation. Lots of bloggers have no trouble being seen as reporters by their readers and by Big Media. They like the attention and the credibility they think comes with that recognition. They like the acceptance from folks they regard (rightly) as powerful and influential. Its a fun club to join and they like to think of themselves as members. There’s no sin in that, either. But there’s a price for admission.
If you’re going to act like a reporter, your activity will be circumscribed. There are limits on your activity because there are conflicts and they do arise and you need to know what they are. This is what has gotten left by the wayside. This really is an either/or conversation as Zephyr Teachout is trying – clumsily, to be sure – to make clear.
Additionally, I am — as are others — concerned about the ways in which Kos and Armstrong funnel money to candidates. As with all fundraising efforts, there is potential for abuse here. That’s why political action committees, 527s and candidates themselves are required by law to report their activity. Some sort of similar reporting mechanism should be put in place for web sites — all sites — that raise and distribute funds. And Kos and Armstrong rather than duck this issue should be finding ways to address it. So should Democratic Party leadership. This issue is not going away. If anything, the “blogola” stories and Kos’s particuarly truculent reaction have fanned the flames.
Over at RedState, they’ve created a 527 for their fundraising. That’s a good solution and it’s one that every on-line activist should embrace. Now. Before things get ugly.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 9:12 AM | Permalink

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