Bloggers And Political Consulting

Daniel Glover of Beltway Blogroll wrote an article for MSNBC and the New York Times about bloggers who end up on the payrolls of politicians.

Glover caught a lot of flack from bloggers about his piece, especially because of a chart that accompanied the New York Times article that featured obsequious quotes from the bloggers about the pols who were paying their salaries.

Although I don’t have a problem with bloggers working as consultants, I think Glover made a great point about blogging and consulting. If you’re consulting for a politician, you’re not free to say what you want to say as a blogger.

Just as an example, let’s say that I were to sign on as a consultant to a candidate like Rudy Giuliani. Could I then rip him up one side and down the other for his position on abortion? No, because the very fact that his consultant was harshly criticizing him would make it into a notable story. Could I write honestly about his opponents? Could I say the same thing that I did last Friday about one of his opponents, Duncan Hunter?

“(M)y first impression is that (Duncan Hunter) would make a far better candidate for the presidency than John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, or Mitt Romney.”

No, again I couldn’t be that honest because the very fact that I was a consultant for Rudy Giuliani and saying that another candidate was superior to him would make it into a noteworthy story.

This is the trap that bloggers who consult for candidates fall into. They can’t be honest about their candidate and moreover, during the last election cycle, presumably out of loyalty to their employers, I hate to say it, but some of the blogger/consultants came across like real shills when they blogged about “their guy.” Maybe they weren’t getting paid for what they wrote on their blogs, but there’s no doubt at all that the fact that they were getting a paycheck influenced what they wrote.

That’s why all bloggers who consult should either take a break from blogging while they consult or at least avoid writing about the race that they’re consulting on in order to preserve their credibility.

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