How Bloggers Are Held Accountable

So, Greater Boston posted a "Mea Culpa" to their erroneous (and hilarious) report on the erroneous (and infuriating) New York Times report on the mega bucks we bloggers are pulling down in this new, ultra-lucrative world of political blogging. Good. My parents were relieved to discover that I actually do exist.

For all of the mistakes Greater Boston did fess up to, there was a major theme in their original panel on blogging that they did not address. Namely, like many other established media sources before them, they failed to retract the utterly false notion that there is no accountability in the blogosphere. We have all heard that idea repeated over and over and over again, even though it has about as much basis in reality as the notion that Scott, Matt, Jonathan and I were all actually Jerome. It makes about as much sense that an institution as large as the blogosphere has quickly emerged and continued to function without any internal checks and balances as it does to assume that Jerome was able to produce the full-time blogging load of three people and moonlight for Senator Menendez in addition to his other consulting work for Forward Together PAC. Both premises posit bloggers as inhuman in our capabilities, and are clearly based in about the same amount of anthropological knowledge of the blogosphere as 16th and 17th century Europeans utilized in their most phantasmagoric and otherwise absurd reports on the native peoples of the Americas, Africa, and large parts of Asia.

Anyone who has ever spent any degree of time as a prominent blogger knows full well that there are a lengthy and strict series of accountability norms and mechanisms that political bloggers must obey, or else be ostracized and face irrelevance. Here are just a few of the ways in which bloggers are held accountable:

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Being And Blogging

It was interesting to discover this weekend that I don't actually exist. In the mounting history of galacticly stupid commentary on the blogosphere that has come from non-blogosphere sources over the past three years, that might have been the most stunning example. At the very least, it deserves a place with Fox News reporting on a sub-par Dailykos flame war, the bizarre analogy that because Snake on a Plane didn't do well at the box office, political bloggers are ineffective, and that everyone in the political blogosphere takes direct orders from Markos on everything they write, or else he boots them from the ultra-lucrative Liberal Blog Advertising Network. That last one was truly frustrating, because until last week when I passed the torch to Annatopia, I actually both organized and managed the liberal blog advertising network since its inception. I mean, if I am going to operate some little-understood conspiracy behind the scenes, I would really like to get some recognition for it rather than see it go to someone else.

Still, even as I continue to push forward with actually existing, I admit that the past three years of blogging have altered me in some rather dramatic ways that do, in fact, begin to call very existence into question. I am not referring to the ways that blogging has caused a career change, granted me political and media access that I still find shocking, almost entirely ended my participation in old social circles and presented me with new ones, allowed me to work from home, or otherwise had an impact on the day to day activities of my life. Instead, I am actually referring to an important way in which blogging has altered my very consciousness. After two and a half years of virtually non-stop blogging, my perception of myself as a distinct individual has dramatically waned. My interior monologue has virtually disappeared. I no longer have aesthetic-based epiphanies, and I almost never concern myself with examining internal passions or emotions anymore. Blogging has not just changed the activities in which I engage--the activities in which I engage in order to be a successful blogger have profoundly altered the way my mind operates and the way I conceptualize my agency in relation to others. In effect, I do not exist in the same way I once existed.

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2008 Presidential Rankings Preparations Thread

I am not ready to start doing a regular series on 2008 Democratic Presidential rankings yet, but I would like to use this thread to solicit the input of the MyDD community on how they would like 2008 rankings to operate this cycle. So, I would like you to answer some questions for me.

1. What should the 2008 rankings be called?
Like many other netroots old timers, I was weaned on the weekly Dailykos Cattle Calls back in 2003. Given this, I would rather not step on Kos's toes, and operate a regular ranking system using the same name. If anyone has a different name I can use besides "cattle call," suggest it in the comments. I really would like to come up with something that would distinguish our rankings from what happens at Dailykos.

2. Who should I include in the rankings?
I would like to develop some sort of public criteria in order to determine which candidates and potential candidates to list in the rankings. Right now, here is how I size up the field:
  • Officially In: Bayh, Gravel, Vilsack
  • In all but officially: Biden, Clinton, Dodd
  • Probably In: Clark, Edwards, Obama, Richardson
  • Probably Out: Gore, Kerry
  • Out: Daschle, Feingold, Warner
Who am I missing? I remember something about a former Oregon Governor possibly running, but I don't remember his name. There are also always longshots you don't expect--does anyone have any leads? I would lean against including Gore and Kerry in the rankings at this time, because on balance their actions and words seem to indicate they are not going to run. On the other hand, I would élan toward including Clark, Edwards, Obama and Richardson, even though (I think) none of them have exploratory committees at this point. Is that wrong? What criteria should I use to list people in the full rankings, and when should I just include people in the "possible others" category at the bottom of the rankings? Should I only include people who have official committees or exploratory committees, for example?

3. What criteria should I use to rank people?
Once we have a name and figured out who is being ranked, it would be appropriate to have a public rationale behind how people are ranked. Should it be ranked by who is ahead at any given moment? Should it be ranked according to chances to win the nomination? Should it be ranked by community vote? Should it be ranked by netroots and progressive movement support? I would lean toward "chance to win the nomination," but I'd like to hear your input.

Just as importantly, what criteria should I not use? Should, for example, national polls be thrown entirely out the window? Should I not bother looking at money until at least late March, once the Q1 numbers are in? How much weight should I give to leads in early states or, for that matter, leads in online polls? Should I take the perceived quality of campaign staff into account? Endorsements form politicians? Union and advocacy group support?

4. Should I use a subjective or an empirically based system?
I lean towards subjective, but an empirical system would cause fewer fights. I conducted an "empirical cattle call" back in 2003, and I might be able to whip up a better version this time around. Then again, ignoring the intangibles of momentum swings, party support, tone of media coverage, and other factors would probably make the rnakings less useful.

5. How regularly should I conduct the rankings?
Markos used to do the rankings every week. However, I don't think I would bother with that until at least September of 2007. Before then, I would like to do one before the New Year, one in January, and then two every month until September. Do you think that is too little? Too much? I would like to know what you can stand.

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Anyway, any feedback you could provide on how you would like to see these rankings run would be useful. I want these rankings to be something the community will enjoy, and that will be more than just rehashing tired conventional wisdom. I would also like these rankings to be a fun place where people can chat about the campaign in open dialogue, rather than turn into a series of petty flame wars. Like in my Senate and house rankings, I will need your help to make it happen. Let me know what you want to see.

Clearing Things Up

There's a bit of a story rumbling around the internet today surrounding a New York Times Week in Review article penned by National Journal's Danny Glover, who seems to allege that political campaigns are getting more than they appear to be paying for with some of their consultants and employees, with top-tier bloggers on politicians' payrolls using their personal sites to boost their benefactors.

While Glover does note that some of "these bloggers shut down their 'independent' sites after signing on with campaigns" or that "most disclosed their campaign ties on their blogs", he fails to mention the fact that a number of the bloggers, like Jerome, largely recused themselves of writing during the course of their employment, farming out writing responsibilities to other bloggers like Chris, Matt and myself.

The reason why may shock you: Chris, Matt and Jonathan do not exist, despite any previous claims. He got me. We're all the same person. I (Jerome) have been writing under these aliases the entire time I have been working on other campaigns. I also used to write under the name of Scott Shields until I got hired under that pseudonym by another campaign. Thought you met Matt, Chris or Jonathan at Yearly Kos or some other event? Most likely you met one of the young fellows I paid to play those roles. They're just out of work, dime a dozen actors from Los Angeles. Anyone could have played them.

So Mr. Glover, you got me. Even though on the surface I did everything possible to remove any potential conflict of interest, effectively stopping my blogging on MyDD and disclosing on this site who I was working for, it was all a big act. Sorry America.

Update [2006-12-3 19:55:49 by Jerome Armstrong]::Glover took the filings that said "Political Technologies" (a vendor company) on them, which is a corporation with many contractors, and applied all of the money toward myself. I've never even publically stated that I am Political Technologies. Of course, he knows this, I asked him to make the correction in his first writing about this, but he's got his angle. So even things like buying 15K worth of technology hardware, and being reimbursed for it by the Brown campaign, are for "blogging" for Brown, even though I never blogged a single entry for Brown, but was a technology and website (built three of them for Brown) advisor. This was slanted "opinion" with an agenda.

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Late Night Presidential Straw Poll

Vote in the late night Presidential poll. Please vote only once.

One of my Christmas wishes is that it will become possible to conduct online 2008 polls that prevent poll stuffing. In particular, I would love to have the ability to conduct a poll where it is only possible to vote when you are signed in at MyDD, with each member only voting once, and when only those people who were members for at least a week can vote. If such a poll were possible, then I might conduct a straw poll every month (or even more frequently), starting now.

Alas, such a poll is not possible, and does not exist. Thus, I am forced to take drastic measures, and instead conduct a 2008 straw poll during the middle of the night, when I suspect few people will be around to stuff the poll. I do not expect that this will solve the problem completely, but the MyDD electorate from 2 a.m. eastern until 9 a.m. eastern should be pretty much unstuffable.

It isn't that I think stuffing is wrong. On a moral level, there is nothing wrong with it at all. It is just that I would love to see what regular readers of MyDD actually think about the 2008 Democratic primaries. Please, I urge you, do not taint this poll by sending your blog readers, you email list, your MySpace group, your Facebook group, or your Yahoo group to alter the results. Think about this for a moment--wouldn't it be better to know where your candidate stands among MyDD readers, than it would to overtly skew the results of a poll to make it seem as though MyDD readers are behind your candidate when, in fact, they are not? Don't you want to know where you candidate actually stands among MyDD readers? If I were behind one candidate, I would want to know where my candidate stood. Skewing the results tells you nothing except that you are able to skew the results.

Vote.

Anyway, you can't skew the results without my knowing. I have access to every vote made in polls like this, including a history of votes in chronological order, and as such I know when stuffing is taking place. Whether that stuffing is for Clark, Edwards, Feingold, Richardson, Bayh, Gore or whoever (I have seen stuffing on behalf of every candidate I named), is it really more useful to you to have me broadcast on the front page of MyDD that you stuffed the poll than it is to know where your candidate stands among the potential contenders? Please tell me it is not.

So, anyway, go vote in the late night Presidential poll. I plan to pull the links when I wake up. I just want to know where the community actually stands on 2008 right now. Rest assured, if you stuff it while I sleep, I will know you did so. Please, just let the poll run its course. Information like this is almost impossible to come by. Let us just have a brief moment where we can know where the community stands. I beg you--vote in the poll, don't stuff the poll. I would hope that at this point we would be more mature than freepers, and that the pursuit of useful political information would trump the desire to childishly make your voice the only one that is heard.

Vote.

Update: OK, bedtime. Arond 140 votes are in. I am already suspicious of stuffing taking place. We will have to see what it look like in the morning. I really hopes this works and people are respectful of the process. Until then...

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