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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Thursday, October 09, 2003


bloggers on the payroll?

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, October 09, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
There's an article in The Hill that focuses on how far behind the other Democratic candidates are in leveraging the Internet to build support at the grass-roots level. Of course, the article doesn't even mention Joe Trippi, which is a shameful omission. What really struck my attention though was this graf:

Dean has done other things to maximize his online fundraising punch, like reinvesting money into expanding donor lists and paying “bloggers” or professional Internet surfers to keep the enthusiasm up on his website.

The campaign is paying bloggers to pump up enthusiasm on the official blog? We all know (and envy) that Matthew Gross is the campaign's chief blogger and that they have lured many of our own Dean Nation alumni to Burlington to maintain/update the blog as paid staff. That's 100% legitimate (and is in fact why the official blog is so interesting and innovative).

But the implication here is that the campaign is paying for false boosterism by "professional surfers" to "keep up enthusiasm" in the comments threads. There's no evidence for this whatsoever, and Matthew Gross debunked it in an open thread on the O-blog yesterday:

Hey all,

The Hill article is confusing. The only paid bloggers are me and Zephyr-- which the author must be referring to.

We certainly don't pay anyone to post on the threads, which is how some people read the article. When you have up to 2,200 comments a day, that would be an incredible waste of money.

Posted by Mathew Gross at October 8, 2003 12:53 AM

Still, the denial by Matthew in comments won't be enough to stop this story from gaining ground by those with a vested interest in Dean's failure - especially if they see it as a way to spin Dean's greatest asset (his Internet support) as his Achilles heel. Rabid pro-Bush partisans like LGF already take the allegation as gospel. The prior history of Dean internet supporters acting in bad faith doesn't help, either. The Clark bloggers have predictably seized upon this story, too.

There needs to be a stronger response from the campaign, sufficiently high up the food chain (Trippi, IMHO) that the allegations can be authoritatively put to rest.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.