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Friday, July 01, 2005

Carol Darr Embarrasses IPDI in Press

Posted by Bob Brigham

Yesterday, I wrote about Carol Darr. Really, how could I not with Darr being the guest of honor at the first ever online magazine celebration (now a blogosphere magosphere holiday). Now the George Washington University scandal has hit the newspapers with it looking like the head of the GWU's Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet knows abso-fockin-lutely nothing about the Internet and democracy:

Carol Darr, director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, says that if the FEC considers every blogger a journalist, wealthy individuals and organizations will exploit that definition to evade the campaign-finance law.

In an interview, Darr sketched out this scenario of how such a move could destroy the fabric of McCain-Feingold:

Suppose Halliburton, a corporation with close ties to the Bush-Cheney ticket, set up a blog to help their ticket win. If the blogger had journalistic status, there would be no limit on what the corporation could pay the blogger or spend bankrolling the blog's activities. There would be no restriction on coordination between the blog and the Bush-Cheney campaign.

The blog could solicit campaign contributions, steer traffic to the Bush-Cheney campaign website, amplify an attack strategy against their opponents, and directly advocate a vote for or against. The blog also would not have to disclose where it was getting its funding and would not have to publish any disclaimer alerting readers that it was a virtual extension of the Bush-Cheney campaign.

As technology evolved, maybe the Halliburton-sponsored Bush blog would make and circulate videos that could be posted on the blog, and e-mailed to millions of voters, with all the costs paid by the corporation and with no restrictions as to content, disclosure or disclaimers, Darr said. But in their testimony, bloggers said one sure way the FEC could undermine the democratizing potential of the Internet is to imagine abuses that have not occurred and to impose regulations that would require every blogger to hire a lawyer and an accountant for fear of violations.

Under the headline, Halliblog, Atrios notes:

Look, the basic issue is that no one has figured out the grand "if only I had 10 million bucks to spend I could have the most trafficked site on the internet" issue. If that were true, it would happen. It doesn't. Who the hell would read a Halliburton blog or website? If they had 10 million to spend on it, what would they spend it on?

Many of the most popular websites are low tech and require little money or bandwidth (aside from the bandwidth which inevitably results from having a lot of traffic). Think Drudge. Aside from the proliferation of intrusive pop-ups, that dude's site hasn't changed in 8 years. As I told the FEC, aside from maintaining a computer, paying for my basic broadband connection, etc... I've probably had about $150 in direct expenses to keep this site running.

Call GWU President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg at 202-994-6500, for the good of IPDI, Carol Darr should move on.

Posted at 10:42 AM in Netroots | Technorati