So Armstrong Williams, a columnist for the Washington Post, was paid by the Bush administration to say nice things about one of their social programs. In the blogosphere, The Daily Kos and Oliver Willis are gleefully trumpeting how this proves the Republicans are just plain corrupt, which seems odd considering that they both get paid by the Democrats to shill for them.
Whatever. Blogs aren’t supposed to be non-partisan, and there’s plenty of ethical questions that arise when someone working for Big Media takes cash in return for slanting their work. But I do wonder if people are getting real value for their money.
During the last election, the Dems decided to pay high-traffic blogs in order to help with the media blitz and elect their candidate. Some of the blogs that they chose were pretty far out there to begin with. But, as Glenn Reynolds points out, if they weren’t rabid partisan hacks before they started to cash the checks, they turned to the dark side pretty quick after the money started to come in.
Unless I’m wrong about the timing, the blog payola started to flow after the Republicans gained Congressional seats in the 2002 election. The last time the party of a sitting President gained control of both houses was during the Eisenhower administration, not a good sign for the 2004 election. So the Dems thought they should goose things a little bit.
Now, if you pay someone for a specific result and you don’t get what you want, then you might stop paying them or you might not. After all, there might be circumstances over which they had no control that forced things to be as they are.
But if you’re paying someone for a result and the situation gets worse, then you should definitely stop paying them. Doesn’t matter if it’s their fault or not, it’s time to find someone who can make more of a difference.
At this point I’d like to say that all of the candidates I endorsed won. And yet, no one is paying me anything.
Oh, sure, my own blog only gets 7% of the traffic Willis does. The other political blog I write for, The Chicago Boyz, get’s about 20% of Willis’ traffic on a good day. That’s why I’m willing to adjust my rates to reflect this situation.
Between the two blogs, I speak to an audience that’s 25% as large. I want everyone with deep pockets and a political agenda to know that I’ll accept 25% of whatever Willis gets in order to shrilly shill your message. I don’t know how much Willis actually makes, but I heard from someone who actually reads his blog that he could quit his real job in order to blog full time. If this is true, then it sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
So far as I know, only the Dems have been willing to pay bloggers which means that I’ll have to change my political orientation in order to get on the payroll. Any Republicans with a discretionary budget should stop this before it happens. Go ahead and bid for my services. It’s Capitalism in action even if it’s not at it’s finest.