Kos 'scandal'

I don't usually discuss Hugh Hewitt here, partly because reading him takes me to a dark place that I should probably keep to myself, partly because its just too exhausting. But his petty hackery trying to make an equivalency out of the Armstrong Williams really deserves a nod for sheer hutzpah. As the Republican party's least personality-saddled online water-carrier, he knows that any negative story about his people need not be disproven, but only neutralized by any shred of trumped up equivalent story for liberals. What an asshole.

Frankly, I think the whole debate over disclosure and ethics rules for bloggers is being way overblown. Look--responsible bloggers who respect their readers and whatever tiny place they occupy in public discourse will find it in their interest to disclose whatever conflicts of interest they have. But these are still private enterprises and they don't have anywhere near the same limitations that media institutions have. As anyone who reads the site knows, Markos Zuniga is a paid political consultant. He is a severely partisan Democrat who makes no secret that his professional and non-professional time is devoted to electing Democrats. A journalist could never maintain that lifestyle, and that's why, hello, he isn't a journalist. He runs a damn Web site for political insiders and hangers on. He has no public education mission, and he controls no media real estate larger than the amount of bandwidth he is willing to personally purchase. It works out because his readers understand he's a pro (and it's a big reason why they read) but they keep coming back because there's a certain amount of trust that he's a pro with his own nuanced ideas. I mean, what's the danger here? That he's going to start hyping a Democratic candidate for pay when he somehow doesn't mean it?

Personally, I don't really have much of a problem with the whole Thune/Daschle thing either. Sure it comes off as a bit sleazier since it is a smaller operation, but again, these are private enterprises, and they are allowed to get paid to say stuff and not disclose who is paying them. The consequences are brutal, of course, but that's the only insurance you can ask for. A) Political campaigns will always try to find ways to shape media coverage outside of direct journalist contact, and B) what are you doing to do about it? It's the internet for christ's sakes. He says politics is his job...if you think he starts sounding like a hack, or want a disinterested perspective on the news, then go read the New York Times.

Armostrong Williams, on the other hand, is A) vouched for by a number of major corporate news institutions with a reputation, billion dollar operations, and huge distribution networks to protect. He makes his living as a disinterested 'journalist' who is paid solely for the distribution of his opinions. He has an integrity to look after that truly is harmed by improrieties. If Kos announces he is getting out of the consultant business to be a full time journlist pundit and keeps the web site, then we'll have valid conflict of interest questions. As long as he is an admitted pro, then you read at your own risk and have only him to complain to.

PS to Hewitt. This, my friend, is why the media is important despite your inane crowing about old media and its downfall. To protect us from your precious blogs.


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