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Monday, May 15, 2006

And now an opposing viewpoint

It doesn't just take love

Blogs Run Ads for Corporate Takeover of Net

Right now, many of the leading progressive blogs on the net are running ads by the bad guys. Not only are these ads promoting the corporate takeover of Internet content, they are totally misleading, along the lines of the nuke industry running ads on "How Nuclear Leaks Make Your Community Healthier."


Right now there is a fierce Capitol Hill war being waged over whether the Internet will continue to belong to the citizens of America or will start to move down the path that cable television went: only the big players will survive as fully accessible content providers, as the Telecom broadband providers start to set up toll gates on the Net.


Okay, so where do these misleading ads show up in droves? Why, on progressive Internet blogs, that's where: blogs who are exhorting their readers to oppose the bill being sponsored by the Telecoms to assert private ownership over a public common carrier. (The FCC last year opened the way for this pernicious legislation by ruling that the Internet was not a common carrier, even though telephones are.)

A BuzzFlash reader pointed out this entire scam to us and how he had tried to get the progressive sites to have the ad removed on their sites, but to no avail. The ad is part of a package offered by a company known as BlogAds. (Click here if you want to know which liberal blog sites financially benefit from BlogAds.)

We don't know if all the sites listed on BlogAds are running the ad for a corporate coalition that wants to turn the Internet into another profit center of branded pablum and propaganda. But we checked three on Sunday night, May 14th, and they all were: Talking Points Memo, Raw Story and MyDD.

BuzzFlash has nothing but respect for the blogs listed on the liberal BlogAds network. We can safely assume they all support "net neutrality" and a pro-democracy Internet. Frankly, otherwise they would be committing suicide. So, it's not like they are seeking these "kill the open net" ads out. But they are trapped in an advertising contract, it appears.

We don't know their agreement with BlogAds, if it allows them to pull misleading and politically sabotaging ads from their sights, but the deceptive ads were still up on the three sites we looked at on the weekend of May 13-14 -- and, we can assume, on many of the participating BlogAds sites.

This is the deal with the devil you make when you start to depend on advertising. You end up in bed with the very people who would like nothing better than to see you shut down in the end. They are paying you in the short term, in order to pass legislation that will knock you off the Internet in the long-term.

If anyone ever asks again, why BuzzFlash doesn't accept advertising, let this example be your answer.

Building progressive values on the Internet and restoring democracy to the people of America requires rejecting the alluring dollars of corporate America, because they are running the nation now, not us.

And if they take away "net neutrality," the Orwellian propaganda of the Republicans and corporate America will have no counterbalance.

The prominent blogs who work with BlogAds are good people with good content and excellent commentary. We read them and post them. They are hard working heroes.

But BuzzFlash takes no advertising. And, this predicament for the BlogAd blogs shows you why.

Any banner ad you see on BuzzFlash is for a premium that we chose because of its quality. We have never accepted a fee for choosing a premium and we don't accept any sort of advertising dollars.

The lamentable news account of the ads for the Telecom front group is the best illustration we can find of why.

We are completely reader-supported and only accountable to you. We will not allow a slick Bush-like thoroughly misleading PR stunt to run on BuzzFlash. And what's worse, it's an ad that holds a gun to the head -- through the Telecom legislation it supports -- of every website on the Internet.

Advertising on Now, you know why we "just say no."

The problem with this editorial is that no one asked what happened with the telco ad.

The reason so many left sites took the ad is because I, among other people, argued that we should not be in the business of rejecting ads we disagree with on policy issues. Would we take a swiftboat ad? No, because they border on defaming people.

I mean, to criticize MyDD for taking this ad, while leading the fight on Net Neutrality proves that this was written from someplace other than actual knowledge. I argued with Matt Stoller that taking the ad made sense, when someone else rejected it out of hand.


First, I think picking and choosing ads for reasons of squeamishness or political opinion is a bad thing to do. The United Church of Christ has been blocked from network TV because of this. People were afraid their message would offend people, therefore they were unable to make their case.

I know pefectly well my readers do not agree with the content of the ad. I know that it doesn't represent anything I've written. But does that mean I don't allow them to buy space to make their case?

If that's the case, should I deny ads to Allan Lichtman over Kwame Mfume or Ben Cardin? Or Harris Miller, who I do not support, instead of Jim Webb?

If you only allow ads which represent your point of view, it's not much of a business plan or free speech, is it?

It's easy to be pure about the motives of other people, and to damn with faint praise Blogads, but that's unfair, and here's why: while the portal of Buzzflash might exist without ads and solely on contributions, Daily Kos wouldn't. MyDD wouldn't, Talking Points wouldn't.

There are real costs to running a blog, everything from computer repairs to hosting fees. Crooks and Liars doesn't just show videos for free.

This wasn't some kind of "contractual agreement", but a concious decision to accept the ad on a number of sites.

What the Buzzflash editorial doesn't seem to understand is that the ad is the least objectional way of presenting a message.There are other, more deceptive ways to do the same thing, fake blogs, sending information to selected bloggers

If the telcos think they can reach our audience in the least deceptive way, that's not a bad thing.

Second, what offends me is this purer than thou attitude which has crippled left politics for 30 years. Oh, we do this for free, why do we have to pay decent salaries.

If you want to know why Democratic politics have been so ineffective for so long, there's a single word for it, money.

The GOP can pluck kids from across the country, train them, and get them jobs, while Dems have to beg for work, and when they get a job offer, the pay is so low that they can't afford to take it, lest they starve.

Too many liberals act like money is a disease, how dare you ask for money, it is impure to ask for money.

This site has been generously supported by our readers, in every way possible, ads are a small part of it. But ads are important.

What the buzzflash editors may be unaware of is this: Henry Copeland is the first honest ad broker I've ever dealt with and that's eight years of dealing with ads. His work has allowed bloggers to support their sites, if not themselves, with money. That allows for people to support their sites and not take money from their families.

In the last two weeks, two bloggers have needed money for emergencies, I could kick in, partly because of ads.

This holier than thou crap has infected and crippled the ability of liberals to make real change for a long time. Now that money has finally come into left politics, Buzzflash wants to deliver a lecture on how ads are bad. Maybe for them, but I think that a true sign of progress is when every large site is fully ad supported.

The fact that Daily Kos and Atrios are, means lots of money they would have sucked up are available to smaller sites. Imagine if they had not taken BlogAds and relied on contributions alone? Not only would smaller sites be hampered, but the ability to grow blogs would be extremely limited.

Buzzflash runs links, they can afford to take those stands. But they should be aware that many of those links would not be there without BlogAds.

posted by Steve @ 2:41:00 PM

2:41:00 PM

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