Tuesday, June 20, 2006

KOmmie KOs Engulfed In Blogola Scandal

The Daily Kos Blogola scandal is now heating up in the Blogosphere but has yet to make its way into the MSM. To sum up, head KOmmie Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and his sleazebag partner, Jerome Armstrong, are now accused of whoring out themselves and the KOmmieland blog for money in exchange for happy talk for those candidates willing to shell out for "consulting fees." The Pay for Blog Play scam works like this: a politician pays Armstrong's Political Technologies LLC firm "consulting fees" which result in (surprise, surprise) enthusiastic postings for that politico in KOmmieland by KOs. This Blogola scam was first noted back in 2003 when Joe Trippi of the Dean campaign paid Moulitsas and Armstrong $3000 per month for 4 months for "technical" consulting. However, a former Dean staffer, Zephyr Teachout of that campaign's Internet Outreach, subsequently CLAIMED that the real reason for those payments was for Armstrong and Moulitsas to say positive things about Dean in the Blogosphere. This wasn't the first time that Jerome Armstrong has been involved in financially questionable activities. It has recently come to light in a New York Post ARTICLE that Armstrong touted a number of worthless or faltering companies online starting in 1999 until 2003 in exchange for cash. Although Armstrong signed an agreement with the SEC promising to shill no more for securities online, he has merely switched his venue by touting politicos for cash.

Some aspects of this Blogola scandal have some quite humorous aspects such as in Ohio last year when Armstrong and Moulitsas were temporarily unable to get their scams in synch. What happened is that in 2005 Ohio Congressman Sherrod Brown paid Armstrong's consulting firm $12,000 in April, $12,000 in June, and then a monthly $5000 fee thereafter. When Brown began indicating that he might want to run for the Senate in October, an as yet clueless KOs on October 3 made this POST:

And with all apologies to Brown, who is one of the greats in the House, but this isn't cool. He bows out, waits for Hackett to gear up, and then floats a trial balloon about getting back in? Brown must've known about Hackett's decision to run, hence this trial balloon is sabotage.

I'm not even sure who is the best candidate, the bullshit "who's most electable" question. That Zogby poll earlier today had Hackett kicking DeWine's ass. I assume Brown would do roughly as well. But in a primary, Brown has the instiutional state party apparatus (no matter how pathetic Ohio Dems might be). Hackett is an outsider.

Me, give me an Iraq vet over a career politician, even one with Brown's excellent pedigree. But ultimately, if Brown runs, this will be a choice for the people of Ohio. Not that you can't take the poll and weigh in. Brown or Hackett.

Just a few hours after the Moulitsas post in favor of Hackett, Armstrong POSTS this strong endorsement of his financial benefactor:

Sherrod Brown should run for the US Senate, he's our best shot at taking back the Senate seat, and will do the most for Democrats to grow organization in the state to win there in 2008.

What about Paul Hackett? Hackett can win, but let's not kid here. Putting aside Zogby's internet polling numbers, it's a longshot. He's not going to win on organization, but on the luck of television ads to be funded later. Dewine has $7M and a script of Hackett calling Bush a "son of a bitch." Heck, even a nimrod could turn that into a serious definitional problem for Hackett right off the bat. Would I support Hackett for the Senate? Heck yea; better him than about anyone else. But if Sherrod Brown decides to run, there is no question that he is the choice for a statewide run.

One can only imagine the heated cell phone (or e-mail) conversation that then went on between Armstrong and Moulitsas with Jerome reminding his partner in crime about where their Ohio money was coming from because just a couple of days later, October 6, Moulitsas had an "amazing" change of heart as you can see in his POST:

...it might be a good idea for Hackett to stand down.

It pains me to say that. I think Hackett would be a far more exciting candidate -- Iraq War vet versus career politician. Outsider versus insider. New blood versus old timer. Straight talker versus the same ol'. And Hackett would offer a perspective not currently available in the Senate.

...Hackett still hasn't had a year-long political campaign under his belt, with the type of scrutiny that a Senate race garners. He doesn't have the statewide network like the one that Sherrod Brown has built. In fact, Brown's operation lent Hackett their netroots guru (Tim Tagaris) and their field guy for his special election. If Hackett was the only game in town, the Ohio Dem establishment (as lame as it might be) would rally behind him. In a contested primary, they'll be working against Hackett.

So one day, Moulitsas is accusing Brown of campaign sabotage and a short time later he is asking for Hackett to stand down in favor of Brown. What a difference a day, or rather, a bunch of bucks make. Most recently Kos has been hyping former Virginia Governor Mark Warner as chronicled in the DUmmie FUnnies at the same time that (surprise, surprise) the Warner campaign has been paying "consulting fees" to Jerome Armstrong. And while we are on the subject of Warner, I would love to find out how much he paid to Armstrong to arrange the Stratosphere Party at the Yearly Kos in Las Vegas. Estimated figures for that party which featured ice sculptures, sushi, booze, and even a chocolate fountain have run from $50,000 up to $200,000. How much of that dinero did Armstrong skim off for himself and his sidekick, Moulitsas? Inquiring minds want to know. There are MANY other aspects (such as big payments by Jon Corzine to Armstrong's firm in New Jersey) of the rapidly developing Blogola scandal and I recommend you check out both HOT AIR and NEWSBUSTERS in order to get up to date on what is happening.

Meanwhile, the first stirrings of possible revolt among the KOmmies are breaking out in KOmmieland as you can see in this THREAD titled, "Fox In The Henhouse 2 - Why DailyKOS should NOT have Advertising." As usual the KOmmie postings are in Bolshevik Red while the commentary of your humble correspondent, willing to advise Mark Warner on how he can escape becoming embroiled in the Blogola scandal for a consultation fee, is in the [brackets]:

Fox In The Henhouse 2 - Why DailyKOS should NOT have Advertising

[Or Blogola payoffs from politicians.]

There have been a lot of diaries about the advertising here on DailyKOS. I think it is time to end advertising on DailyKOS.

Kos has a severe conflict of interest between collecting money from lobbyists and, at the same time, advocating for candidates and policy. This is also true of the MSM, and we can show that Fox News and other MSM are influenced by their advertising dollars to promote particular positions. If we want to claim that there is a "Culture of Corruption" in politics we must also examine ourselves and our institutions to be sure that there is no conflict of interest.

[Take it up with the Blogola twins: Armstrong & Moulitsas.]

A conflict of interest can occur whenever you receive money to promote a particular point of view. Since Kos is an active party staffer who has worked on multiple campaigns, including Howard Dean's Presidential Campaign, he is not just your standard run of the mill journalist. He is an activist with influence on where this party is going and what policies our government will pursue. Since he accepts money from lobbyists to present their viewpoints on his blog it is a clear conflict of interest. I will present more below the fold.

[SNIFF! But having integrity will mean no more kewl Stratosphere chocolate fountains.]

I am going to post a comment that is from a Harvard Law School discussion about this very issue.

[Uh-Oh! We are about to enter the realm of some deep doo-doo.]

I think the ethics question is a serious one, which I've brought up elsewhere and fought with Markos Zuniga, and several others in the blogosphere, about. In this past election, at least a few prominent bloggers were paid as consultants by candidates and groups they regularly blogged about.

[aka Blogola.]

On Dean's campaign, we paid Markos and Jerome Armstrong as consultants, largely in order to ensure that they said positive things about Dean. We paid them over twice as much as we paid two staffers of similar backgrounds, and they had several other clients.

[Payola = Pay for Play.
Blogola = Pay for Blog Play.]

While they ended up also providing useful advice, the initial reason for our outreach was explicitly to buy their airtime.

[Nobody really believes the big bucks were shelled out for mere advice.]

And here's Kos's thoughts on the topic:

[Stand by for some great laughs!]

"Zephyr can go to hell,'' Moulitsas said at the Democratic convention. `'I'm not about to censor myself on any issue,'' he later wrote on another Web site. "If I care about something, I'll write about it. It's the essence of blogging. As for the mainstream media, who cares what some joker journalism professor wrote? Just keep blogging, doing your thing, and the blogosphere will continue to do just fine. We should let our accomplishments speak for themselves, and they will."

["Zephyr can go to hell! I'm not cutting myself off from the Blogola Gravy Train."]

Did you realize that a front page ad on DailyKOS will cost you $4,200 for one week? Since there are 9 spots on the site for ads this means that Kos could make upto $1.9 million dollars in advertising a year. I am sure the numbers are smaller then that, but the site is currently booked solid until June 23 for advertising so there has got to be a decent income stream coming in from that.

[Um, so how can the DUmmie FUnnies get in on that Blogola deal?]

I'm not against Kos making a living. All of us want to make a living, but since he has clear conflicts of interest he needs to come clean and make a clean break from advertising on his site and rely on income from subscriptions and book revenue or we should all shift our allegiance to some other Blog that operates without these conflicts.

[Somehow I don't think you will convice KOs to drop his champagne high life in favor of living on a beer budget.]

If Kos were interested in selling his integrity, and others were interested in buying it, why would they do it overtly through ads?

[Hey, there is always the "consulting fees" scam as well.]

Don't Forget His Book revenue and his payments from political campaigns to help them out in a "consulting" position.

[Yes, be sure to place "consulting" in quotes.]

Is it unethical to make money? To be successful? To do so in an open fashion, where people can make quick, back of the envelope estimates of your finances?

[In the old days, Payola payments were made in envelopes. Nowadays, Blogola is much more sophisticated since those payments come in the form of "consulting fees."]

i don't believe he has taken money from any campaigns since Dean's

[Except for the campaigns of Sherrod Brown and Corzine and Warner and...]

I don't consult.

[That was KOs himself and he is right. He just lets his partner, Armstrong, "consult."]

What right to YOU have to tell anyone what they should be "forced" to do. This is NOT YOUR F*CKING SITE and Kos has no obligations to us except those which he has chosen to take on.

[How dare you suggest that KOs not accept Blogola payments!!!]

He admits that getting rid of ads wouldn't make a whit of difference because Markos could just as easily be accepting bribes unrelated to advertising.

[Such as Blogola in the form of "consultation fees" funneled to him via Unknown Jerome.]

If not advertising, then please identify another source of revenue.


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Blogger Icarus said...

Kos looking ever lighter in the loafers than usual with the San Francisco skyline as a backdrop ...

... just priceless.

Mister 0 and 20 taking money to help Democrats lose ....

... more priceless.

The irony of a liberal clearly engaging in the most shallow of capitalist endeavors, making a buck off his name and whoring his opinion out to the highest bidder ...

... the most priceless of all.

Pretty funny, too.

On a side note: why aren't Democrats aware that if they'd just find spokespeople who LOOK the part they'd probably bump up 5 points in the polls.

Having this nipple-tweaking Mentos-man as the face of your movement is not going to help you win elections, ya big DUmmies.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Icarus said...

By the way, PJ, in case you haven't seen it --- your good friend Slick Willy "Midnight Cowboy" Pitt has popped up on the radar screen at the ironically named "Truthout":


6:32 AM  
Anonymous DumbAss Tanker said...

What a horrifying screen shot. Looks like Santa Claus is missing "Prancer."

6:35 AM  
Blogger Son Of The Godfather said...

Having this nipple-tweaking Mentos-man as the face of your movement is not going to help you win elections, ya big DUmmies.

Holy cripes, that was funny! :)

7:25 AM  
Blogger PJ-Comix said...

Check the DUFU edition just posted this morning. It is about the reaction of Kos himself to the exploding Blogola scandal.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he's been eating too much Special Kos.

10:48 PM  
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