Friday, July 28, 2006

More on the Disclosure Issue

Not that this is breaking news anymore, but another example this week of blurred lines: a pundit blogger supposedly acting as an independent who, it turns out, is actually on contract. This is the Patrick Hynes case. Hynes himself agrees he should have revealed his negotations with Straight Talk America (this is connected with Senator John McCain) earlier, but at the same time maintains that his professional work and his blogging remain separate. Jim Geraghty over at TKS, who "broke the story", had this to say in conclusion:

There's nothing wrong with working on a candidate's PAC or on his campaign, and there's nothing wrong with blogging about that candidate. The error is in not informing readers. I think bloggers have an obligation to disclose their relationships to entities in which they have a financially compensated relationship or interest. There’s no reason to think that anything Hynes wrote is anything less than his unvarnished opinion; but his readers ought to be informed that McCain is not just his favorite presidential contender; he is, ultimately, a client.

This is a sensitive issue because nowadays one of the easiest ways to shut down criticism and debate on foreign policy issues is to insist or hint that someone is "on the take". Incidents like these, no matter how innocent or trivial in the end, continue to add more straws onto the camel's back that commentators, pundits, etc. are simply puppets for their paymasters.

This problem is only going to get worse unless some form of effective regulation is imposed. Many people in the blogosphere, even those who sometimes represent "liberal" points of view, seem
to be universally hostile to regulating financial conflicts of interest between bloggers and the people who will buy their endorsements.

I'm skeptical that Hynes was writing his unvarnished opinion - it's like expecting to get an unvarished opinion from a presidential candidate's campaign manager. Frankly, when you pay for someone's opinion, often you own/control that opinion.

Jordan W.
Originally blogs, at least as they related to public policy, were meant either as a place for "amateurs" to offer their two cents or for professionals. Now what is happening is people who have opinions and have positions want to be paid to broadcast those opinions.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?