Bloggers trying to have it both ways with the FEC?

I read Chris Nolan because she makes me think and she teases out subtleties that ordinarily might escape me. In The Man Behind the Curtain she takes Kos to task for promoting a future in which bloggers have all the exemptions of journalists and all the freedoms of partisan hacks:

The idea of getting money out of politics is one that used to be endorsed by Democrats and reformer, folks who really were progressive, not just mouthing the words to some 1970s Golden Oldie barely remembered from their first 8th Grade co-ed dance. Why? Because those reformer understood that big money – corporate money, union money, rich people’s money – didn’t always go to their side or the aisle. And regardless of where it goes, it can be corrupting. They understood that money will never leave politics; that’s why it has to be watched very, very carefully, as publicly as possible, as openly as possible.

Mike Krempasky does not believe this. And if you think for a minute that Krempasky isn’t trying to use this recent round of FEC hearings and comments to gut the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which brought many of them into being, you are dreaming. That’s the Great and Powerful Progressive cause. But, of course, it’s being ignored in favor of name calling and mocking a woman who’s both reasonable and polite and who Moulitsas met only a few weeks ago when he sat next to her on a panel (which I moderated in New York) and decried the rising tide of partisan name-calling and bad-mouthing on the Internet.

Now, I don’t agree with Carol Darr’s analysis of what should be done by the FEC. I think the media exemption should be given freely and fully to anyone who asks for it. But I also think people who ask for it shouldn’t take money from campaigns, shouldn’t be involved in fundraising and shouldn’t be endorsing candidates or doing any other sort of political work. Carol Darr sees the same trouble I do:

On its face, the bloggers’ request for rights equal to those of mainstream media seems reasonable. Their online readership, in a few instances, exceeds those of mid-sized daily newspapers, and their influence and legitimacy continues to grow, in some cases exponentially. Last summer, dozens of bloggers were issued press credentials at the two national party conventions, and several of them have been credentialed by the House and Senate Press Galleries. Recently a blogger was given a day pass to the White House Press Room. Some bloggers want it both ways, however. They want to preserve their rights as political activists, donors and even fundraisers — activities regulated by campaign finance laws — yet at the same time enjoy the broad exemption from the campaign finance laws afforded to traditional journalists. As one blogger speculated, “So basically, I can do whatever I want, spending however much money I want (blogTV that has fatband maximized by megamillions) and just call it a blog?” 8 That is exactly right. For thirty years the campaign finance laws have made a fundamental distinction between political activists and the news media, in order to protect a free press while at the same time limiting the influence of big money on federal elections. Until recently, the distinction between the news media and rest of us was clear and uncontroversial…
Bloggers can have it all, but not all at one time, without destroying the two campaign finance statutes or the press exemptions or both. Given the social and political changes ushered in by new communications technologies, it may already be too late for anything but a massive overhaul of the campaign finance statutes.

Food for thought.

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