The Atlanta blogger who got in hot water this morning for taking money from politicians is accusing his accusers of doing much the same thing.
"This just another case of the pot calling the kettle black," Georgia Politics Unfiltered's Andre Walker said in an e-mail about Atlanta Progressive News.
APN reported early this morning that Walker received payments from U.S. Rep. David Scott's campaign (apparently for designing a website) and also ran favorable coverage of Scott. Decaturguy blogged last year that Walker had set up a website for Vernon Jones and also covered Jones' Senate campaign.
But Walker sent campaign disclosure reports to CL showing that APN received a total of $575 for ads from politicians whom the website endorsed: Angela Moore for Georgia secretary of state in 2006, Able Mable Thomas for the fifth congressional district this year, and Donzella James, who ran against Scott in the 13th congressional district this year.
Interesting point, but it still seems to me that ads are a bit different from performing work for hire (hey, I would say that, wouldn't I?). For one thing, if APN ran ads for those candidates, the ads served as a sort of natural disclosure that APN's getting money from those candidates. Also it's a bit less money than the $1,250 APN reported Walker received from Jones and additional payments from Scott.
On the other hand, APN didn't disclose its own relationship with Donzella James the endorsement or the ad payment when extensively quoting on her interactions with Walker.
I'm writing so much about this today because it's plain interesting the way people (and by that I mean both readers and posters) are sorting through the ethical issues tied into blogging, journalism and where people are now getting their information. Sometimes, bloggers reflexively accuse journalists who also write in print of arrogance or of failing to understand the new medium. That may be true a lot of times, but bloggers do themselves a disservice when they respond angrily and defensively anytime critical issues are raised.
In a separate post on today's blogger ethics brouhaha, A.man.I. points to CyberJournalist.net's Blogger's Code of Ethics. Although that code seems to me to be a bit vague and rambling, it seems a very constructive place to start.
Meanwhile, Walker confirmed in his e-mail to me that he's credentialed to blog at the Democratic National Convention.
But he may end up with a smaller platform. Peach Pundit founder Erick Erickson says he's decided not to allow Walker to post on its front page during the current campaign cycle. In a post this morning, Erickson said he'd previously raised concerns to Walker about payments from Scott before APN's revelations.
In an e-mail about a couple of hours ago, Erickson writes: "I was just in the process of sending him an email telling him it'd be inappropriate for him to continue on the front page until after the election given his failure to disclose."
Peach Pundit has become one of the state's major political forums, particularly in conservative circles (although Walker's a Democratic contributor). Earlier, I grilled Erickson via e-mail about the blog's approach to conflicts of interest and disclosure. My questions in boldface, Erickson's answers in italics.
How can readers of political blogs like Peach Pundit know what the conflicts of interest are?
As a general rule, I try to get people to not write about things they are actively involved in, unless they make it clear per post that they are involved in the issue. Buzz Brockway, for example, has written about Gwinnett politics before, making it clear who he supports or is working with. Clint Murphy, as Bull Moose, has always been upfront about his McCain support, even though he only recently got on the payroll. Readers don't know there are conflicts unless we tell them and we need to repeatedly tell them because of stuff scrolling out of view.
While I havent done the research myself, it seems that some of the disclosures on PP have been kind of in passing like you have to sort of be in the know or almost reading between the lines to understand that this persons in this camp and that persons in the other, and its not entirely clear whether theres a financial relationship or more of a philosophical one. Not a criticism, just a vague impression. Do you find the vagueness of disclosures to be a concern?
I think as long as someone is expressing their opinion that it is fine, but I think there is a huge difference between expressing an opinion supporting something and actively working for that thing. If you are working on behalf of a candidate or cause, there absolutely needs to be a disclosure that you are not just advocating your preferred candidate or position, but that you are doing so with connection to the candidate or cause.
And finally theres the whole pen name thing: As a reader, how can I tell who someone even is (and therefore ID a conflict for myself)?
With the exception of Decaturguy, who rarely posts but who's privacy I've always tried to respect on the issue of anonymity, I know who the pseudonymous writers are and they have all committed to not writing about the particular issues they are involved in. Thus far they have all managed to do so, thankfully. I'd feel obligated to mention their involvement and doing so might risk their anonymity. We actually do have a couple of people on the front page who'd be at risk with their jobs should they lose the veil of their pseudonym, so they have incentive to not talk about work issues.
On this issue, Deborah Honeycutt's campaign [Honeycutt is Scott's Republican opponent] emailed me after the last post by Andre to suggest Andre might be working for David. I emailed Andre to inquire and never heard back from him. Unfortunately, I then hit the week of the 4th, then a week in DC, and then a week in Austin, TX and it totally slipped my mind to follow up on it. I should have.
It seems very clear to me that Andre should have disclosed, at least on Peach Pundit, that he's working with David Scott's campaign. We'll be dealing with this matter further at Peach Pundit as a result.
Oy, the subordinate clause is what SCOTUS ignored in Heller (?), the right to have…
"Keeping these concepts in mind, the column's statement that "there are at least 50 types…
@ Mark from Atlanta "Ask your buddies Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity etc if union members are…
"multi-millions for public amenities, civic pride and bragging rights; but, not a penny for "little…
Every city in America has a large part of its central business district (CBD) that…
"this picture was instead replaced with Black Men" No problem...black folk get robbed and killed,…