Last week (on January 13, 2005) Instapundit took the unusual step of opening comments on the ethics of Blog-payola. I wrote this:
I am pretty agnostic on this. I think it is hopeless to anticipate a standard of behavior in Blogovia. It won’t happen, and I am not sure it should. No one is free from bias of some sort or another. Being paid to express an opinion is not so different from being affected by your likelihood of getting tenure, or a promotion, or maintaining your anonymity, or getting a choice committee assignment, or for that matter stroking or offending the right or wrong people in the world of blogs, politics, one’s profession or with N.Z. Bear.
The only real difference I can see is that one form of blogola is liquidated, but the other sources of bias can be and of course are in some cases far stronger.
Consumers of blogs have to simply be skeptics. Those who disclose more, and more accurately, will be more trusted on that account. At the end of the day, all you have is your persuasiveness, your intellectual honesty, and — in my case — a good looking picture at the top of your columns.
Okay, I know — not everyone can have such a picture. But you work with what you have. You get my point?