Kos, Atrios, And Armstrong. Right Or Wrong?By Emelius at 4:53 PM
Atrios is mentioned here in error. A correction has been posted. The original article remains unedited in the interest of historic reference. I apologize for any misrepresntation.
********** Original article **********
I was hoping that this was an issue that I would not have to voice my opinion on, but the fact that bloggers Kos and Atrios won't stop commenting on it just compels me even more. If you have not been paying attention, the right wing is trying to compare the fact that these bloggers got paid by Howard Dean during the campaigns is somehow related to the Department Of Education paying a pundit (Armstrong Williams) to push the No Child Left Behind Act. I know for a fact first off that these bloggers did in fact disclose that they were being paid by Dean and that Armstrong Williams did not disclose this information.
Being a reader of Kos and Atrios every day then makes this next statement difficult. Guys ... you were wrong. Not the same wrong as Armstrong as what he did should be illegal to take money from the White House to push a policy using tax payer money and not disclose it. What was wrong was a journalistic ethical type of wrong. When you are a part of the media, even blogging, you have to remain unbiased. Compound this with an election year cycle, many candidates, and receiving money from a party or candidate, just taints your writing. As journalists, you must take a higher road. If approached by a candidate, you say NO!
I had a similar situation in the 1992 presidential campaign. I was working to start up another political/music magazine and was finalizing to get out my first issue. To my surprise I got a call from the Jerry Brown campaign. I was thinking, "Cool, this will be a great opportunity to maybe get an interview with the candidate for the first issue." Instead though what it was, was an invitation to be a delegate for their candidate. Because I had classified myself as a journalist (Also I did not like Jerry), I turned them down. They tried very hard to get me to be a delegate with 3 follow up phone calls and several letters. Each time I turned them down. For me to of accepted the offer would have put me in an odd position and my readers in an unfair position. My readers would not have known if I was being political or just representing a biased interest. If I had taken the offer, I think it would have been proper for me to remove my self from journalism for at least a year after my final day of representation.
At the end of the day it comes down to journalistic ethics. It is one thing to take an ad, but another to take direct funds for services. Even the Dean campaign admits that they had hoped to buy favor without actually asking for it. Because of the actions of Kos and Atrios, every time we see a write up on their site supporting Dean, it will be hard to know if it is an unbiased position, or if it is because of the fact that they were once paid by his campaign. I offer no slack to these great bloggers for their actions as it was clearly an error in judgment that they must now live with. Any efforts on their part to become unbiased political writers is forever damaged because of this and any mention of Dean will be closely monitored. I had felt this way before this new controversy broke, and I will feel this way in the future. The fact that they continue to beat this horse and see no wrong doing in their actions, is the only reason I feel compelled to comment. Sorry guys.
My advice for them is to shut up. Put the information out there for others to decide. Invite yourself to defend yourself on TV. Then drop it like a rock. You are only digging a deeper hole for yourselves and keeping the debate active. You don't think the pundits are reading your sites and getting fuel for the fire? Think again.