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January 14, 2005

Not that Publishing Has the Government's Bribing Capacity...

by Ron Hogan

A friend emailed me a WSJ article this morning about bloggers who worked for the Dean campaign, which is built largely upon an item in Zephyr Teachout's new blog in which she discloses:

"We paid [the authors of DailyKos] and [MyDD] as consultants, largely in order to ensure that they said positive things about Dean. We paid them over twice as much as we paid two staffers of similar backgrounds, and they had several other clients. While they ended up also providing useful advice, the initial reason for our outreach was explicitly to buy their airtime. To be very clear, they never committed to supporting Dean for the payment--but it was very clearly, internally, our goal."

The obvious main lessons to be drawn from this, particularly in light of the revelation that the Bush administration was handing journalists $250,000 inducements to publicly embrace its way of thinking, are political, but bookbloggers and publishing companies may want to take some notes as well. I don't think it's realistic to imagine that any publishing firm would go so far as to sign a blogger to a book deal to get good coverage of their other books, but I have to admit that back in the late '90s, when Random House launched the original version of Boldtype (which is now, I should add, fiercely independent), I spent a good deal of time wondering if I could leverage my author-interviewing skills and convince some other publisher to hire me to do something similar. As it happens, I ended up working for Amazon for two years...

I can't really say that there's a direction this thought is going; it may even be a dead end. But what the heck, it's a blog story, it's probably worth kicking around a little bit.

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