Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Name Them

Hit and run style, Garance writes:

I know for a fact that several active commenters on Daily Kos are either Capitol Hill press secretaries, who post comments defending their members, or campaign workers. That makes them sock puppets for their causes, even if they win praise, in some quarters, for defending their bosses.

This is quite possibly true, and I have no idea and actually don't much care, but it's the kind of accusation which should either be made not at all or made in full. It's rather irresponsible to just let it dangle, both tarring members of the Kos community and stoking paranoia among its members. And what does it mean to be "active commenters?" Are we just talking about people who are have active accounts and occasionally post or people who have established known identities there.

I actually don't have a problem with press secretaries "defending their members" anonymously if those defenses are basically correcting misinformation and aren't in the realm of "Congressman X is the best person ever."

As for the general issue, yes quoting anonymous blog commenters is generally a stupid practice, though journalists/editors and producers rarely bother to let their readers/viewers know the relevant financial connections and conflicts of interest of those who write op-eds or appear on their television shows (let alone for those who do "man in the street"-type interviews, which is really more of what we're talking about here). Yes, disclosure of this stuff is always good but in the hierarchy of Problems With Journalism the dreaded Anonymous Blog Commenter is really just a matter for a blogger ethics panel. There's rarely any vetting of the kind Garance imagines for bloggers anywhere else in the universe.