Great minds think alike. But at different speeds.



Glenn Reynolds quotes Shannon Love as follows:

If we’re going to regulate speech based on inducements to bias why stop with mere financial relationships? I think we should require all media sources to reveal all possible sources of bias starting with the political affiliations of the publishers and reporters. After all, the media sells stories they advertise as accurate and objective. Shouldn’t consumers have ready access to the information they need to decide if those claims are true?

Politics is more important than money.  If you buy a toaster based on a biased recommendation, you’re only out the cost of a toaster.  If you vote based on a biased political recommendation, you could lose your freedom.   If the government has both the duty and the ability to protect you against bias in product recommendations on blogs, why doesn’t it have the same duty and ability to protect you against biased reporting on political matters?

Good thinking.  But then, hey, full disclosure, right? — I’m a little biased.  That’s because in January of 2005 I wrote this on LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®:

Last week 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?

This line of argument led to the publication of this op-ed by me, now far less agnostic, in the New Jersey Law Journal two years later.  Amazingly, you still can’t see the article for free on the site, which it explains the time delay:  That’s how long it took Shannon to get the routed copy of the Law Journal out in Chicago!

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Attorney Ronald D. Coleman