SOMEBODY CALL A BLOGGER'S ETHICS PANEL. I have my problems with Kos, but this sort of gotcha journalism is silly. The story, as intrepid reporter Jason Zengerle has uncovered it, is this: After the news about Jerome's settled SEC case broke, Markos sent an e-mail over a closed list saying he thought the story was worthless and the best way to respond was to deny it oxygen or impact. And so he, and others, did. The e-mail could have been sent to a private CC list of the biggest bloggers, but he instead transmitted it through a semi-private message board with hundreds of members. One of the many hundreds of members forwarded the note to Zengerle, who breathlessly posted it up on the Plank. Butwaittheresmore!
Zengerle's follow-up post is a series of dark insinuations over the financial leverage Kos holds on the other bloggers. As the causal chain goes, Markos and Jerome founded the Liberal BlogAds Network, and thus have their talons lightly piercing the skin of all of our necks. The idea here is that Kos asked the other bloggers not to write about Jerome's closed SEC scandal, and because he can deny them revenue by expelling them from the list, a thousand keyboards instantly ceased clicking.
Poppycock. I'm a member of the Liberal BlogAds Network. I've mocked Kos's "Libertarian Democrats" concept, derided his elevator pitches, and generally been surly and disagreeable when it suited me. The idea that Markos can just throw folks off the list is a bit silly, particularly for any of us who remember the endless e-mail thread when Jerome and him tried to create some uniformity in the rules for entry. Some blogs -- unfairly in my view -- were tossed because they weren't blogs, and weren't in technical compliance with the rules (mainly things like no pop-ups, prominent display of the advertising button, etc). Agree or disagree, it was hardly an ideological purge. And yet it raised such an interminable hue and cry that most of us shut down our e-mail servers and took a vacation from the internets till it finished. Had the conflict been enforcement-oriented, it would have been a war, and a public one. Bloggers are too enamored with their own independence, and BlogAds doesn't provide nearly enough revenue, for Markos to demand fealty. You would've seen resignations in droves, and Markos would've been massively reviled. As it is, he's never shown the slightest bit of interest in communicating with the network's members, much less leveraging its...whatever. I've never even thought of the ads when attacking Kos, and Zengerle's statements to the contrary are irresponsible.