Are political blogs the "new frontier" as promoted or just another place for partisan hacks to get rich by playing "politics as usual?" Recent controvsersies surrounding the successful Daily Kos web site suggest the whole thing may just may be another political con game.
At the center of the current firestorm is Daily Kos over whether or not one of the funders vilated SEC rules by touting bad stocks. Writes Jason Zengerle at The New Republic:
Are Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas (of the famous Daily Kos) engaged in a pay-for-play scheme in which politicians who hire Armstrong as a consultant get the support of Kos? That’s the question that’s been bouncing around the blogosphere ever since The New York Times‘s Chris Suellentrop broke the news last Friday about a 2000 run-in Armstrong had with the Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged stock touting. But Armstrong, Kos, and other big-time liberal bloggers have almost entirely ignored the issue, which is a bit surprising considering their tendency to rapidly respond to even the smallest criticism.
Why the strange silence in the face of such damning allegations? Well, I think we now know the answer.
So far, Kos’s friends in the fiercely independent liberal blogosphere seem to have displayed a sheep-like obedience to his dictat. And while it’s true that Kos himself hinted at the controversy in this blog post yesterday, he didn’t come anywhere close to addressing the questions that really matter. You might even call Kos and company’s behavior in this whole affair just another case of politics as usual. So much for crashing the gates.
P.S. Was Armstrong really, as Kos claims, a "poor grad student" when he settled with the SEC? Armstrong agreed to the settlement in December 2003. That was eleven months after he and Kos started their political consulting business and six months after the two were hired by the Dean campaign at a rate of $3,000 a month.
Chris Reed of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests that maybe the foks at Kos as just a couple of political good old boys and it is business as usual:
One of the central tenets of true believers in Daily Kos world is that old-school politicians and media are venal, corrupt and self-serving. So what happens when an online account by a respected journalist for the quasi-liberal New Republic, following up on an online report by the very liberal New York Times, raises legitimate ethical questions about circumstantial evidence suggesting the appearance of influence-peddling by the two titans of Kos world, Kos founder Markos Zuniga and MyDD.com honcho Jerome Armstrong? What happens is that the pair behaves just like the old-schoolers they so loathe.
Instead of taking the allegations seriously, Zuniga loses it and calls them just another manifestation of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Armstrong, meanwhile, keeps mum.
As Jimmy Buffett once said: "We’ve become the ones our parents warned us about." Rick Moran at The American Thinker says a clearer picture of blogs emerges from this controversy and that picture ain’t pretty:
Judging by the burgeoning controversy surrounding Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, the biggest liberal blogger on the planet, we may in fact be witnessing something of an earthquake that will alter the blogging landscape, changing the public’s perception of these on-line journals from fiercely partisan, independent voices to little more than pale echoes of the political parties they support.
Herein lies the makings of controversy for Kos and I suspect other influential bloggers. All of that ad revenue has brought increased scrutiny of the Daily Kos universe by the mainstream press. And what they are beginning to uncover smacks of influence peddling, “pay for play” by politicians on the Kos website, and perhaps most interestingly, a network made up of the biggest, most influential liberal blogs with Moulitsis himself cracking the whip and ruthlessly enforcing a kind of orthodoxy of thought thanks to his control of a liberal ad network to which bloggers subscribe.
The controversy centers mostly around Moulitsas’ relationship with his friend, business partner, and recent co-author Jerome Armstrong. As the conservative site RedState has reported, there appears to be a correlation between candidates who hire Armstrong to work on their campaigns and favorable attention paid to those candidates on Daily Kos, a blog that garners more than 500,000 readers a day. Normally, this wouldn’t raise many eyebrows. Kos himself worked for the Howard Dean campaign and fully disclosed the fact that he was being compensated by the candidate. But what has some tongues wagging is Kos’s apparent support for the Presidential aspirations of Virginia Governor Mark Warner, a moderate Democrat who recently hired Armstrong as an internet consultant.
Further, during the recent YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas, Governor Warner spent a reported $50,000 on an open bar reception for attendees while delivering a rousing speech denouncing President Bush and the Republicans. Moulitsas, whose support of far left candidates have included other Armstrong clients like Representative Sherrod Brown who is running against Senator Mike DeWine in Ohio, has recently said that the moderate Governor Warner “bears watching” while praising his electability for President.