9 Apr. 2007

I Was Paid To Post Pro-Government Comments On Blogs!

Do I detect the beginnings of a concerted MSM effort to (further) discredit blogs? The New York Times promotes a call for blogger ethics on the front page. The editors at the SMH think this is important World News. Meanwhile, WaPo's Mistah Kurtz hosts a TV cat-fight on the subject.

What's going on? Is this just more orchestrated Rove-style "noise"? Or has the blogosphere reached some organic point of evolution where such discussion has suddenly and spontaneously become mega-urgent?

Here in OzBlogistan, there actually is some evidence of the latter. John Quiggin has decided to cut the crap, imposing registration requirements at one blog and a discussion policy at another:
I’m hoping this will help to kill off spam, and also help me in troll control...

One of the reasons I’ve taken a break from this blog is that I’ve found the effort of dealing with various kinds of disruptive commenters to be more than I can justify.
Bryan at OzPolitics has also implemented a Comments Policy:
If you don’t get it, I am sick of reading the mindless partisan bickering. The funny thing is that I suspect half of you are sitting in Parliament House or party Headquarters engaged in viral marketing techniques for the next election against the other half.
Heh! What? Professional political propagandists??!? Paid blogging commentary??!! Can it be true? I once had my comments at Road To Surfdom deleted for daring to suggest that such a thing could be happening. The ever-so-gentlemanly Tim Dunlop said this amounted to crazed ranting, even though the object of my comments was himself a crazed, ranting wingnut.

Hmmn... Could it be that the rude and crude incivility of the blogosphere is largely due to paid commentary from certain persons determined to muddy the waters, sow lies and disseminate their employers' daily talking points?

Let's look at the facts. The Pentagon, the US Military, and the US State Dept freely discuss using blogs as PsyOps, while influential "thinkers" like Paul Wolfowitz rave about them (only the blogs that are carefully tailored to their agendas, of course).

It would be surprising if Aussie politicians were not likewise taking an active interest in blogs, and trying to steer online discussions towards their own advantage. We all know that pollies are keen to throw money at anything new and promising in the propaganda-catapulting arena. And don’t forget that Arthur “Good News From Iraq” Chrenkoff was a paid employee of QLD Liberal Senator Brett Mason.

NB: Still waiting for someone to chase that story down! But not surprisingly, nobody in the "real" media seems to be interested.

Methinks the latest blogger ethics hysteria is a little odd. For example, Digby compares the MSM's attitude to blogging with their fawning devotion to talkback radio:
Whatever the reason, it's quite clear that mainstream media have either ignored, pandered to or actively embraced hate radio for almost two decades now. Nary a peep has been said about the relentless, daily drumbeat of demogoguery and loathing of their fellow citizens that these talk show hosts vomit onto the public airwaves for anyone with a radio to hear...

The discourse that everyone is so shocked to see is now uncivil and "nasty" was polluted decades ago by a bunch of rich, white businessmen who saw that they could make a very nice profit at exploiting the lizard brain of the American rightwing and help their political cause at the same time. The media thought it was all in good fun (and good for their bosses) just as they do today.

We bloggers didn't make this toxic, fetid environment, we just live in it. And toxic and fetid it is. At some point the prim and proper MSM are going to have to put down the smelling salts over the uncivil blogosphere and deal with the fact that the world they enabled with their convivial chuckling and snorting at Rush and Imus over the years has brought us to this place. The rest of us are little busy fighting off the neanderthal thugs they helped create.
Interestingly, Australian talkback radio jocks Alan Jones and John Laws have both been found guilty of running paid commentary (not that it seems to have damaged their careers much).

I think there is a big story here, which is sure to come out one day. Hopefully before the next election.

UPDATE: Ms Fits reveals that she got a call from a media voice asking her opinion on this subject. I'm wondering how many others were approached, and who succumbed to the lure of MSM fame? Rupert works in mysterious ways, y'know...