Oppo on bloggers?

As you may know, some bloggers have been annoyed with a recent New York Times article about bloggers who take money from political campaigns. Earlier this year there was a similar dust-up over aspersions about Markos Moulitsas, of Daily Kos, and his association with Jerome Armstrong, who left his MyDD site to work for Mark Warner, and about the disclosure of information about a regular Kos diarist.

Now comes the spectre of political campaigns conducting opposition research on political bloggers. This started Wednesday with a claim by Virginia blogger Shaun Kennedy that the campaign of Senator-elect Jim Webb, a Democrat, did oppo research on bloggers in the state, including both left- and right-wingers.

Whether Kennedy’s allegations are true, it hardly seems surprising -- and if candidates haven’t been doing it, they will. After all, some bloggers originate new stories and information about candidates, that become part of the campaign, requiring a response. The credibility of the story’s source is obviously one aspect of that response. In this time of rapid-fire spread of information, rapid response is often critical, so a campaign will want to have the relevant background info on the blogger at hand, and that requires advance oppo research on the ones most likely to break a story (and to have that story spread).

And, since your opponent is sure to do the same to bloggers sympathetic to you, you’ll want to be ready with research to defend them. Or, if some bloggers have real problems in their background, you’ll want to avoid cozying up to them.

The issue raised by Shaun Kennedy’s allegations has been buzzing around the last couple of days, but has not yet reached the mainstream bloggers (if I may use such a term), but I suspect it will. I’ll be interested to see which bloggers will see this as an acceptable price of being taken seriously, and which will view it as an unreasonable intrusion on their privacy.

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