06 September 2008

Rumor Central: Obama's Paid Bloggers

Where did this urban legend about Obama paying bloggers start? We’re assuming it’s an urban legend because we’ve never seen any support for the claim—just hearsay and and retorts to “Google it!" (when, of course, we have and still come up blank).

It looks as though the rumor started on or around May 15 this year. It originated at Hillbuzz and was quickly distributed across the Internet. Here’s one example:

According to Fox News, so question the source, but posted on Hillbuzz:

"The Obama campaign has hired 400 bloggers to influence the public discourse and sway Hillary voters to "remember we are all Democrats", to give up Clinton's cause, and to become dutiful citizens of the Obama Nation.

The poster was right to consider the source. Guess what? There is no record of such a story being pushed by “Fox News.” Fox is innocent.

Hillbuzz actually added a caveat after the story broke out:

Apparently, according to FOX News (EDITED TO CLARIFY: FOX News information scroll running during FOX News broadcast, NOT FOXNews.com).

Problem: The link that Hilbuzz provides, which implies a source, offers nothing on the “Fox New/paid bloggers” story. In fact, the site Hillbuzz guides you to, Lavender Liberal, features this post, written after the site began attracting those who thought that Lavender Liberal kickstarted the rumor when it clearly didn't:

How HillBuzz made that nonexistent connection [between the 400 bloggers story and Lavender Liberal], I don’t know, but, frankly — while I don’t have anything against HillBuzz — it’s pissing me off. Sites all over the Web keep pointing to the Lavender Newswire as the source of this rumor — even though HillBuzz, thankfully, has since edited their original post to clarify that the rumor was started by a scroll at the bottom of the screen during a Fox News broadcast. Whether that’s true or not, who the hell knows? It is Fox News, after all — and yet nobody knows who first saw this alleged scroll in the first place.

Just as it says: "nobody knows who first saw this alleged scroll in the first place." So we arrive at another dead end.

As an example of how quickly this unsourced allegation became accepted fact, let’s look at The Washington Post. On May 18, a columnist wrote on an Obama speech at a fundraiser. Following
the article, we get reader comments such as:

"As many of you know, Obama has hired hundreds of paid bloggers to surf the net and spread his lies and propaganda...."

Is it a surprise that this poster, and others who pursue this line of argument, offer no evidence? After all, most of us know.

All in all, from what we’ve seen, we can only conclude that this is an urban legend. It persists because it’s a useful, albeit simple, way to dismiss alternate views:

“you’re being paid to write that!”

Um, no.

"But we can't believe you because we know you're a paid Obama blogger!"

And so it goes.

Aside: It’s also interesting to note that the number of alleged “paid bloggers” keeps changing. Here the number is 300, here it’s 400 (the most common number), and here it’s 800.

You can read a rundown of how the “paid blogger” story got kicked around the ‘nets at Yes To Democracy.


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

What happened to the post to which Boykin, Cristi, Tracy Karol et al responded?

I'd like to know if there is a PAC with which they are affiliated. Some of their activities might be construed as "electioneering" communications, if the CAACR ad was their own, and perhaps some of the press coverage they received.

Anonymous said...

There are interesting parallels in Roger Stone's "Citizens United Not Timid" group and some of the discussion that has occurred on the Internet with Adkins, Cifre, et al. Here's an interesting link to give you some background:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Utilities/printer_preview.asp?idArticle=14617&R=138F92C658

There is much to be found in the 527 filings on the IRS web site.

I am the Walrus with braces. said...

I'm a Barack Obama blogger.

mpandgs said...

Thanks for answering the post, but
are you a _paid_ Obama blogger? If so, how did you apply for the job?
Thanks for helping clear up the “blogger” question, and thanks for coming by.

mpandgs said...

Anonymous@7:52:
Post removed due to some "renovation." Don't worry, however, as those comments *will* be reposted, and as they were submitted.

mpandgs said...

Anonymous @ 11.25,
I don't think this is related to Roger Stone. Mr. Stone is smart, and the dirty politicking under discussion is just kind of...well, you know.

By the way: if you haven't read Jeffrey Toobin's interview/profile of Stone, it's a treat:
http://tinyurl.com/6hukon

mpandgs said...

And "I am the walrus with braces," We're all waiting for your response...what gives?

Anonymous said...

Operatives like Roger Stone are already resigned to defeat--and looking forward to their next shot. "We're at the end of an eight-year run," Stone says. "There will be no lack of 527 money in the Congressional elections in two years, when President Obama is so unpopular he can't appear in public."The Nation