I’ve not been keeping up with the American blogs as closely recently, so it may be that many of you have heard this story already, but it seems that some people have found a way to make money blogging:
(Via Amy Sullivan at Political Animal, who also has some experience with one of the bloggers concerned)
Little over a month ago, the first Senate party leader in 52 years was ousted when South Dakota Republican John Thune defeated top Senate Democrat Tom Daschle. While more than $40 million was spent in the race, saturating the airwaves with advertising, a potentially more intriguing front was also opened.
The two leading South Dakota blogs – websites full of informal analysis, opinions and links – were authored by paid advisers to Thune’s campaign.
The Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the National Journal first cited Federal Election Commission documents showing that Jon Lauck, of Daschle v Thune, and Jason Van Beek, of South Dakota Politics, were advisers to the Thune campaign.
The documents, also obtained by CBS News, show that in June and October the Thune campaign paid Lauck $27,000 and Van Beek $8,000. Lauck had also worked on Thune’s 2002 congressional race.
Both blogs favored Thune, but neither gave any disclaimer during the election that the authors were on the payroll of the Republican candidate.
Now, the South Dakota campaign is probably a special case - after all, it worked out that the total campaign spend came out to over $100 per actual voter, so there was a lot of money floating around trying to find a way to be spent - but it could well be a harbinger of things to come with many more bloggers being taken on in more professional roles. After all, I got the story from a ‘professional’ blog, created when a magazine took on the former Calpundit to write for them.
I do wonder if this will become widespread in future campaigns, though, mainly because one would think that if you have to pay people to get good stories about you out there, you have to doubt how successful you’re going to be in convincing the voters - who you can’t pay to have good opinions of you. As I said, this may be because - even in American politics - there comes a point when you’ve just got too much money in your campaign fund and every crazy idea (’‘Hey! Let’s pay these guys cash to make a few hundred people scattered all over the country think we’re great!‘) that someone comes up with can get money it probably wouldn’t have received in a campaign with tighter budget limits. After all, why pay someone for something when you can get them to do it for free?