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Monday, July 11, 2005

dumbest article of the year nomination

I nominate "Beware of the 'Halli-bloggers'!" for dumbest article of the year. Apparently, the newest danger to democracy (and "good government"!) is that Halliburton might start a weblog! Here's exactly how democracy will be destroyed:
In testimony before the commission, Carol Darr, director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet, laid out a scenario in which Halliburton could choose to take advantage of a blanket media exemption for bloggers by investing in a blog that was supportive of its favored candidate. The "Halli-blogger," as Darr put it, with unlimited and undisclosed funding from Halliburton, could then create a slickly produced television-style ad on behalf of a candidate, even consulting with the campaign to design as effective a message as possible. The blogger could then, as part of the normal journalistic function, send this ad out over e-mail, or on an RSS feed, to activists and swing voters. The ad could even be sent to news outlets, as is standard practice for modern campaigns, where it would be featured in news segments, increasing its visibility and injecting its message into the bloodstream of the campaign.
So, in other words, journalists are so dumb that they would fall for a slickly produced ad on a weblog of unknown (to them) funding. Whew, thank goodness Darr has already figured it out, so there's no danger after all! No, apparently there is danger after all:
"[Bloggers argue] 'What's the difference between us and them? We deserve the media exemption also,'" Darr told Salon. "It's an easy ask, but it's a real expensive give. The cost of it is the destruction of the campaign finance laws and the prohibition on corporate money which has held for 98 years."
Fortunately, not all left-wingers are as dumb as the author of this Salon article:
Bloggers greet this possibility with a shrug. Atrios, aka Duncan Black, who also testified, calls Darr's concern "kind of silly." "It's granting a greater potential for influence than a blogger could have, or any one person or any one Web site on the Internet could have," he told Salon. "And it sort of presumes that Halliburton has discovered the magic formula such that if they only spend $10 million they will have the best Web site ever and everyone will come to it every day to hear the latest daily propaganda from whoever their candidate is."

Kos, characteristically, was more blunt. "I say, 'Welcome to the blogosphere, Halliburton!'" he wrote on his site, in response to Darr. "'Join the over 12 million blogs already in the blogosphere.' I'm pretty confident [campaign finance reform] would survive the emergence of yet another blog. One of 20,000 created every day."
Right on, Kos! The whole problem with this article is that the author, Zachary Roth, never gives a convincing explanation of how Halliburton is going to pull this off. The example given is so convoluted and ludicrous, it's hard to believe he had a straight face on while typing it. But guilty until proven innocent is the order of the day for "good government" types, so free speech must take a hit to protect us simpletons from reading Halli-blogs.

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