support for sale

Meg Whitman Is Paying Bloggers $15,000 a Month to Say Nice Things About Her

“It’s standard operating procedure” for right-wing bloggers to get paid by Republicans to offer favorable coverage, says a GOP “campaign operative.” What about blogs who challenge Democrats to grow a pair? Because if that were the case we’d be rolling in it.

The Daily Caller quotes one “GOP blogger-for-hire” who says “at least half the [Republican-friendly bloggers that are out there … are getting remuneration in some way beyond ad sales.” Well that sounds scandalous! And how widespread is this problem?

In California, where former eBay executive Meg Whitman beat businessman Steve Poizner in a bitterly fought primary battle in the campaign for governor, it sometimes seemed as if there was a bidding war for bloggers. One pro-Poizner blogger, Aaron Park, was discovered to be a paid consultant to the Poizner campaign while writing for Red County, a conservative blog about California politics. Red County founder Chip Hanlon threw Park off the site upon discovering his affiliation, which had not been disclosed.

Poizner’s campaign was shocked to learn of the arrangement, apparently coordinated by an off-the-reservation consultant. For Park, though, it was business as usual. In November 2009, for instance, he approached the campaign of another California office-seeker — Chuck DeVore, who was then running for Senate — with an offer to blog for money. “I can be retained at a quite reasonable rate or for ‘projects,’” Park wrote in an e-mail to campaign officials. In an interview, Park defended himself by claiming, “nobody has any doubt which candidates I’m supporting,” and noting that his blog specifies which candidates he “endorses.”

But while Red County’s Hanlon expressed outrage at Park’s pay-for-blogging scheme, questions arose about his own editorial independence when it emerged that Red County itself had been taking money from the Whitman campaign. In December of 2009, Red County received $20,000 from the Meg Whitman campaign, which has sent the site $15,000 a month since then. The money is ostensibly for advertising, yet by conventional measures the numbers don’t add up. According to Quantcast, Red County reaches around 125,000 unique viewers per month. Two new media industry experts confirmed that, given such a readership, Whitman’s ad purchase is “ridiculously” expensive, surpassing the going market rate for such ads by 1,000 percent or more.

Dear Republicans: I will happily extol all the lovely things about Meg Whitman — her hair is reasonably tamed, usually; she does not say “like” a lot; she started a charity that gives heavily to the Environment Defense Fund — for half of that. I’ll even throw in free buttons and a downloadable screensaver!

[Daily Caller]