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Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Misleading Drama Queen

Here's a recent post from the Drama Queen:

"Brodkorb is a nice guy." Source: Star Tribune, September 30, 2006

The quote is from Tim Obrien's roundup, Bloghouse. The actual story is quite different.

Mudslinger for hire

Michael Brodkorb on occasion has identified himself on his blog, Minnesota Democrats Exposed (3), as a part-time paid consultant for the Kennedy campaign.

Robin Marty at Minnesota Monitor (4) called into question just how part-time Brodkorb is, pointing out that Brodkorb makes $4,583 a month working for the Kennedy campaign. And despite Brodkorb's claim when he announced the gig that readers of his blog "may notice a small drop in [his] coverage of the U.S. Senate race," Marty discovered Brodkorb's posts on the Senate race have increased dramatically since he started drawing a paycheck.

In the same vein, MN Publius (5) reported that an FEC filing showed that Brodkorb accepted $5,500 from Sixth District U.S. House candidate Michele Bachmann on Aug. 8 for "research."

Brodkorb claims that his blog "is not created, endorsed, sponsored, or authorized by any political party, candidate, or candidate's committee. It's all me and always will be," but these revelations cast serious doubt on that claim.

He wrote on his disclosure page, "[M]y ethics are not governed by legal interpretations. This is why I have gone through the unprecedented efforts of creating a disclosure page on my blog."

A couple of problems with that statement:

  • His disclosure page (which was announced Aug. 31 but posted only Tuesday) doesn't disclose anything. Nothing about his salary from Kennedy, the payment from Bachmann, his prior work as the research director for the Minnesota Republican Party, being the chair of the Senate District 38 Republican Party. It's nothing more than a sanctimonious screed aimed at those who exposed his ties to campaigns.

  • He only disclosed his identity because of a defamation lawsuit. He blogged anonymously from July 2004 to January 2006.

  • As Blog of the Moderate Left (6) pointed out, Brodkorb didn't disclose the work he did for Bachmann; MN Publius did.

  • Disclosure pages are anything but "unprecedented."

Brodkorb is a nice guy. But he's not credible on this issue. He needs to be upfront about what his blog is.

And, in light of these facts, to argue that it is anything but a paid advertisement for the GOP is disingenuous at best, and, at worst, a lie. Caesar's wife should be above suspicion.

If Brodkorb is going to make a career out of "exposing Democrats" by twisting their words and concocting half-truths, then he'd best have his house in order.

In my opinion, Reporters should always be independently fact checking blog posts. I personally believe that it is a conflict of interest for Michael Brodkorb to be acting as both a blog "reporting" on the Kennedy/Klobuchar race, and also acting as Kennedy's press consultant. When it's about other races, he's a source without those conflicts of interests. Reporters in my view, should be more assertive on this point.

While I was quite surprised (I hadn't been checking FEC reports carefully enough) about Brodkorb's research for the Bachmann campaign, I don't think he can be accused of conflict of interest there.

I think all too often reporters and bloggers get dazzled by having "inside information." I think MacBeth says it well:

Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Update: Flash has a good roundup on this. He has relabeled his link to the Drama Queen's site to "Paid Kennedy Press Consultant".