On All Those Rich Crooked Bloggers Who Live in the Daily Caller's World

Dan Riehl, Melissa Clouthier and others already ripped that ridiculous Daily Caller story to shreds yesterday, but I had a few comments of my own to add.

If you missed the story, it is titled, “True Stories of Bloggers that Feed on Partisan Cash,” and here is the part that is most at issue:

“It’s standard operating procedure” to pay bloggers for favorable coverage, says one Republican campaign operative. A GOP blogger-for-hire estimates that “at least half the bloggers that are out there” on the Republican side “are getting remuneration in some way beyond ad sales.”

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On those two statements, I call bullshit. I don’t know who the anonymous “Republican campaign operative” and “GOP blogger-for-hire” are but I’ve been blogging since 2004 and I know many, many bloggers. I know some of them fairly well and I can confidently say there is no way that 50 percent of bloggers are getting paid (especially beyond ad sales) to blog. Maybe I move in different circles, but in the world of conservative political blogging that I live in, that is not the case.

Here is what I can tell you about what I’ve seen of bloggers since I started blogging in April of 2004. I can tell you about bloggers who work all day at a job to pay their bills and then come home and stay up to the wee hours to blog and get paid nothing for it. I can tell you about bloggers who pay out of their own funds for servers and blog design and to go to events they want to cover. They often go without other things, and sometimes anger their spouses by spending that money, to be able to blog. I can tell you about bloggers who would love to make enough money blogging to quit their day jobs and devote all their time to their blogs, but have not found a way to make it happen.

I think bloggers should be getting paid. Not by a candidate to say what they want them to say without disclosing a relationship, but I do think they should be getting paid for their work and I have been involved in discussions with other bloggers about some ways that might come about.

I have at times made money blogging by getting a percentage of ad revenue, but since I was part of a group blog most of the time I rarely paid any attention to what ads were even running and it never influenced my blogging. I have been paid by several publications over the years to write columns. I have been paid by a couple of candidates to work on their campaigns over the past few years, but I rarely blog during the same time I am working on a campaign (mainly because I don’t have enough time) and when I do I go out of my way to disclose my association with the candidate and campaign, like I did this week.

Read Melissa Clothier’s post on the Daily Caller piece at Liberty Pundits. She says much of what I would have said if I had not already read her saying it better. I worked on the same RNC project that Melissa cites (we actually became good friends while working together on it) and am on the same tech listserv she mentions. We did not get paid for it, but were happy to do it to give the RNC better insight into the blogging community.

I am not going to defend Dan Riehl point by point since he has already defended himself better than I ever could, but will say that anyone who knows Dan has to know he says what he wants to say. And does so forcefully (and sometimes quite crudely).

I’ve never taken money, in the form of blog ads or otherwise, to blog about a campaign or issue. I have been asked by people working for campaigns to blog about certain stories and have done it free of charge because they are things I would have blogged about anyway. As a consultant to campaigns I have asked bloggers to write about the candidates I’ve worked for. I have asked frequently, in fact. And I will continue to ask and to attempt to persuade them with my arguments for the candidate, rather than cash.

When the news about Tucker Carlson’s blog project came out I was surprised because I’d never heard his name associated with blogging. Maybe he thinks over half of us are getting paid to say what others want us to say. Maybe if he knew a few more bloggers he, or Jonathan Strong who wrote the piece, could have asked a few of them and found out whether or not 50 percent were getting paid to blog. I read at Dan Riehl’s blog that Strong graduated from college in 2006 and has worked as a congressional staffer and lives in Arlington. Maybe he doesn’t know that most bloggers don’t live in the DC area. Or even in California. I’d be glad to introduce him to a few dozen who won’t make a dime.

I don’t doubt that there are bloggers who have sold their credibility for money from rich candidates who are too stupid to realize that if they are worth electing there are people who will write about them for free. I don’t doubt that there are consultants who are evil and crooked as well. But the majority of bloggers are not getting rich, and are not selling their reputations to the highest bidder. The fact that Daily Caller would publish such accusations with what appears to be little investigation or corroboration, tells me more about their credibility than that of the vast majority of conservative bloggers.

There was another story in the same news cycle yesterday about Philly requiring bloggers to purchase a $300 business permit. For most bloggers, including most conservative bloggers, that would not only wipe out any money they made blogging, but would put them in negative territory. Bottom line is if you want to get rich blogging, you’d do better to follow the Tucker Carlson model than the Dan Riehl one.

Update: When I wrote about hearing about Tucker Carlson’s blog project, I was referring to back before the Daily Caller was launched, when I first heard anything about the project. Before that when I heard Tucker Carlson’s name I thought of MSNBC, not blogging. And the Daily Caller isn’t a blog — it is an online magazine — although Jim Treacher is there and he is a great blogger. Some other good bloggers write for DC, too. It’s just too bad they weren’t assigned to this story.

Crossposted at LorieByrd.com.

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