Looking back to the days when we backed Kerry early on in the primaries, despite considerable opposition from some of the major blogs such as Daily Kos, things are now looking much clearer, thanks to this confession from Zephyr Teachout. This also helps explain why the blogs gave an exaggerated impression of Dean's success, and provides warnings of such potential misuse of the blogosphere in the future.
On Dean's campaign, we paid Markos and Jerome Armstrong as consultants, largely in order to ensure that they said positive things about Dean. We paid them over twice as much as we paid two staffers of similar backgrounds, and they had several other clients.In the interest of full disclosure, should I say that, while I never received any payment from the Kerry campaign, I did receive a big hug from Teresa Heinz Kerry when we met? A staffer from Kerry's Senate office also passed on a message to me in December expressing "the Senator's warm personal regards."
While they ended up also providing useful advice, the initial reason for our outreach was explicitly to buy their airtime. To be very clear, they never committed to supporting Dean for the payment -- but it was very clearly, internally, our goal.
This is now getting routine--Simon Rosenberg hired Matt Stoller, presumably not just because he's got good ideas, but because he already has a "commentator," "spokesperson," role within the blogging media. The scale is infinitely smaller, but its odd to live in a world where we don't blink when commentators are hired as spokespeople. Imagine Howard Dean hiring Maureen Dowd!