Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Best Supporters Money Can Buy

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.

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!
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."


Blogger beachmom1 said...

I don't think you should misunderstand what's going on here. This is not about Dean vs. Kerry, it is a classic case of the Republican Noise Machine vs. a Democrat. They are trying to downplay the Armstrong Williams scandal by saying "the liberals are doing it, too!". Go to Daily Kos, and see how the Wall Street Journal (a publication for which I normally would trust their news articles as opposed to their Op-Ed page) put out a bad story full of misinformation and even a made up quote. Kos disclosed on his web site and Jerome shut down his blog. They also were paid for technical services, not typing content. I am not a huge Dean fan, but in the case of the right wing media distorting the facts, all Democrats need to stick together.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

Should have figured. It is common for the right wing media to make such false equivalencies to distract people from the issues.

It looks like there is a real story here as Zephyr has admitted that the Dean campaign paid bloggers in this way, and it is informative for those of us involved in the Dean vs. Kerry campaign. However, this is not equivalent to the Bush administration paying actual journalists.

2:31 PM  

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