Anyone can start up a blog claiming to be anyone else: sometimes the “identity theft” is satirical and most readers will catch on. “Harriet Miers” blog lampooned (in the first person) the aborted Supreme Court nominee; some Virginia wags started a political blog titled “Not Larry Sabato” in reference to the massively-quoted University of Virginia political science professor. The “Roger Ailes” of the blog of the same name is not the president and CEO of Fox News and the blogger tells us so, in this manner: “Not affiliated with Fox News Channel or any other houses of ill-repute.”
Less identity theft than personal assault are blogs dedicated to attacking the person in the title or address. The bloggers at SantorumExposed.com focus their ire on Pennsylvania republican Senator Rick Santorum. Rockford Illinois-based “Ellis Wyatt” (itself a pseudonym) talks about many subjects at Dump Dick Durbin but the democratic senator is a special target of negative criticism.
So what happens when you, or your staff, or people affiliated with your campaign start blogging and don’t reveal their affiliations? And they do so to laud you or slam your opponents? Is that unethical? A scandal? In the past, such chicanery with say, call-ins to talk shows have forced resignations from political campaigns.
The State Journal Register of Springfield, MO, reports BLOG POSTS TRACED TO CAMPAIGN COMPUTERS (December 13, 2005):
The publisher of the political newsletter Capitol Fax reported Monday that people using computers assigned to Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign have been posting anonymous messages bashing and praising other candidates in the governor’s race on the Capitol Fax Weblog…
In the future, we can expect a growth industry in fake blogs (either to praise your candidate, what Michael Cornfield calls a “flog” or to attack an opponent, what I call a “hitblog”).
Political workers will also infiltrate existing blogs and write comments in line with campaign talking points. More on this later!
Challenge: Blogging is a sort of ebay of ideas: the system depends on most people being honest about who they are and the authenticity of the goods (ideas) they have to sell.
Originally posted January 4, 2006 at PolicyByBlog