Saturday, January 15, 2005

How Many Ways Can You Spell Ludicrous (apologies to Ludacris)?

You may give a Man an Office, but you cannot give him Discretion.--Poor Richard

The right wing megaphone spent most of Friday, January 14th trying to draw a parallel between the Dean campaign hiring two Democratic party blogger activists with no journalistic pretensions (for $12,000) who disclosed their political involvements (one of whom quit blogging) with the columnist Armstrong Williams' explicit, contracted selling of space and policy views (for $241,000) in his newspaper column and broadcast media appearances. One used my tax dollars. One didn't. Talk about projection.

Having distinguished the two acts, we can observe that Bush's bureaucrats in the Department of Education and "Zephyr Teachout" apparently do share a model of political speech as branding process. In the corporate world, the Armstrong Williams deal is an ideal to be aspired to, not an embarassment. It's called synergy:

"Why wait around for something as temperamental as audience demand or radio play when by controlling all the variables you can create the illusion of a blockbuster success before it even happens?...In less enthusiastic eras than our own, other words besides 'synergy' were commonly used to describe attempts to radically distort consumer offerings to benefit colluding owners...illegal trusts...what else is a monopoly, after all, but synergy taken to the extreme?" (Naomi Klein, No Logo, pp.149,160-161)

Why should we be the least bit surprised that the MBA president is applying astroturfed synergy to the branding of his faith-based policies? Politics has to be privatized, right? What could be the matter with that?

Note to right-wingers: If you were ever curious why the reality-based community says there is a right-wing propaganda sphere ruling the airwaves and cyberspace, look in the mirror today. Any bloggers or broadcast journalists who took this pseudo-story seriously today have elected themselves members of the right-wing fake-news media sphere effective immediately.

Right-Wing Fake News Links:
Dean Campaign Made Payments to Two Bloggers, Wall Street Journal
Rober Novak, Crossfire, January 14, 2005
Daily Kos Bought and Sold by Dean, Little Green Footballs
Hugh Hewitt,
Bill O'Reilly, January 14, 2005
Patrick Hynes, Howard Dean's Shrill Shill, American Spectator Online
Fox News, All Day Everyday
Rush Limbaugh, All Day Everyday

Less Fictional Right Wing Link on this story:

Practitioners of that dying art, Journalism, who did not run the pseudo-story based on the facts
Associated Press
Washington Post

By all appearances, Zephyr Teachout unaccountably imagines that a "debate" with the bloggers in question is somehow related to addressing her own bad faith: "On Dean's campaign, we paid Markos and Jerome Armstrong as consultants, largely in order to ensure that they said positive things about Dean...To be very clear, they never committed to supporting Dean for the payment--but it was very clearly, internally, our goal."

Question: How exactly does defamation contribute to a discussion of blog ethics? How would other people be in a position to take responsibility for your own, apparently failed, attempt to be unethical?

Courtesy of Atrios:
Laura Gross states definitively that neither blogger in question was paid by the Dean campaign to produce content and that the WSJ article fabricates a quote. A third WSJ journalist caught in the middle of it protested the distortion with her editor. Precious.
Laura Gross, Here's the Story