09 Apr 2009

Left Blogosphere Leaders: Show Us the Money!

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Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher and the Kos himself fired (in private) the first shots in a struggle over advertising dollars and other forms of support between the left-side of the blogosphere and the financially-troubled dinosaur news media.

Greg Sargent broke the story:

Some of the leading liberal bloggers are privately furious with the major progressive groups — and in some cases, the Democratic Party committees — for failing to spend money advertising on their sites, even as these groups constantly ask the bloggers for free assistance in driving their message.

It’s a development that’s creating tensions on the left and raises questions about the future role of the blogosphere at a time when a Dem is in the White House and liberalism could be headed for a period of sustained ascendancy.

A number of these top bloggers agreed to come on record with me after privately arguing to these groups that they deserved a share in the ad wealth and couldn’t be taken for granted any longer.

“They come to us, expecting us to give them free publicity, and we do, but it’s not a two way street,” Jane Hamsher, the founder of FiredogLake, said in an interview. “They won’t do anything in return. They’re not advertising with us. They’re not offering fellowships. They’re not doing anything to help financially, and people are growing increasingly resentful.”

Hamsher singled out Americans United for Change, which raises and spends big money on TV ad campaigns driving Obama’s agenda, as well as the constellation of groups associated with it, and the American Association of Retired Persons, also a big TV advertiser.

“Most want the easy way — having a big blogger promote their agenda,” adds Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos. “Then they turn around and spend $50K for a one-page ad in the New York Times or whatever.” Moulitsas adds that officials at such groups often do nothing to engage the sites’s audiences by, say, writing posts, instead wanting the bloggers to do everything for them.

Naturally enough, the spectacle of the self-appointed tribunes of the poor leaping and snapping at a major pile of cash was bound to provoke a certain amount of derision.

Rick Moran offered only false sympathy.

Hey! I’m with you guys 100%. If you’re going to shill, the least you can ask for is some pocket change. All those years of brown nosing and you’d think these big shots would have the common courtesy to toss a few coins in the hat and give you a hanky to wipe the stain off your face. I mean, what’s the use of prostituting yourself if the party pooh-bahs won’t leave any money on the dresser when they leave?

Meanwhile, Don Surber chuckled that it was too late for Jane to try to put a meter on it. “Why should they pay Hamsher to do what she was going to do anyway for free?”

Mickey Kaus suggests that Hamsher and Kos should pay attention to the approach described in Amy Wallace‘s profile of Variety’s former editor-in-chief Peter Bart

I have to tell you a story,” the studio boss said, launching into a tale about a lunch with Bart the previous December. It wasn’t the first lunch the two had shared, but this one was memorable.

According to this studio chief, before they’d even looked at their menus, Bart announced: “Your studio has not been advertising enough in Variety. That has affected my Christmas bonus.” Bart said there would be repercussions, the studio chief told me: “For the next six months, you won’t catch a break in Variety.”

I asked if Bart made good on his threat. “Oh yes,” the studio chief said, noting that even on the weekends the studio came in No. 1 at the box-office, the story in Variety would start off with a dig—something like, “Despite a string of flops…” So what did you do, I asked. The studio chief didn’t hesitate: “We upped our ad buy.”

This isn’t Kos’s first grab for the bucks either. Remember the great Kosola Scandal of 2006?

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