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.