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Dean campaign hired two bloggers to promote candidate

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://online.wsj.com/public/article/0,,SB110566243803425942,00.html?mod=todays%5Ffree%5Ffeature Dean Campaign Made Payments To Two Bloggers By WILLIAM M.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 2005
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      Dean Campaign
      Made Payments
      To Two Bloggers

      Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

      Howard Dean's presidential campaign hired two Internet
      political "bloggers" as consultants so that they would
      say positive things about the former governor's
      campaign in their online journals, according to a
      former high-profile Dean aide.

      Zephyr Teachout, the former head of Internet outreach
      for Mr. Dean's campaign, made the disclosure earlier
      this week in her own Web log, Zonkette. She said "to
      be very clear, they never committed to supporting Dean
      for the payment -- but it was very clearly,
      internally, our goal." The hiring of the consultants
      was noted in several publications at the time.

      The issue of political payments to commentators has
      become hot following disclosures that the Bush
      administration paid a conservative radio and newspaper
      pundit, Armstrong Williams, $240,000 to plug its "No
      Child Left Behind" education policy.

      With the growing importance of blogs -- short for Web
      logs -- Ms. Teachout said she thinks bloggers need to
      rethink their attitudes toward ethics. A blog is an
      online personal journal or series of postings, dealing
      with just about anything. Millions of people use blogs
      to post diatribes, rants, links to other sites and
      erudite analyses hourly, daily or sporadically. Some
      make a little money by selling ads. The Dean
      campaign's adroit use of the Internet helped make its
      long-shot effort credible.

      Ms. Teachout's posting shook the confidence of many
      people in the blogosphere, as many bloggers like to
      call the online community. Bloggers have been quick to
      criticize the unspoken biases of mainstream media, and
      they helped expose the questionable documents used by
      CBS News in a report about President Bush's National
      Guard experience.

      The partisan Democratic political bloggers who were
      hired by the Dean campaign were Jerome Armstrong, who
      publishes the blog MyDD, and Markos Zuniga, who
      publishes DailyKos. DailyKos is the ninth most linked
      blog on the Internet, according to Technorati, a
      measurement service, and in October, at the height of
      the presidential campaign, it received as many as one
      million daily visits.

      The two men, who jointly operated a small political
      consulting firm, said they didn't believe the Dean
      campaign had been trying to buy their influence. Both
      men noted that they had promoted Mr. Dean's campaign
      long before they were hired and continued to do so
      after their contract with the campaign ended.

      Mr. Zuniga said they were paid $3,000 a month for four
      months and he noted that he had posted a disclosure
      near the top of his daily blog that he worked for the
      Dean campaign doing "technical consulting." Mr.
      Armstrong said he shut down his site when he went to
      work for the campaign, then resumed posting after his
      contract ended.

      A spokeswoman for Mr. Dean said the two bloggers hired
      by the campaign did nothing unethical because both
      disclosed their connection to the Dean operation.

      Ms. Teachout said the campaign never explicitly asked
      the bloggers to promote Mr. Dean. But she said the
      Dean campaign wanted to keep them from shifting to
      rivals. Ms. Teachout said she has been raising the
      issue as part of a broader push on her part to get
      bloggers who are also consultants to publish their
      client lists. She said that as more people have turned
      to bloggers for news, she came to the conclusion that
      bloggers "have an active responsibility to be
      absolutely transparent."
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