Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ko$ola: The story so far

June 20, 11:18 p.m. EDT
Dan Riehl's got the
Jerome Armstrong's consulting firm collected over $161,700 from SEIU -- perhaps the most notoriously corrupt union in America -- in a single year! And DailyKos has been pimping SEIU!

One labor journalist accused SEIU of ripping off AFL-CIO for $3 million before splitting in 2005. Wait until Tom Buffenbarger finds out what Andy "Beach House" Stern has been up to lately ....
(Markos/CNN image by P.J. Comix)
* * * * *
June 20, 6:53 p.m. EDT
Kos flatly denies everything:
No politician, campaign, issue group, nor any other organization has directly or indirectly paid me for anything.
Right. Armstrong's been raking in big-time consultant bucks, but Moulitsas has taken a vow of poverty. In which case, Moulitsas is not the scammer, he's the scammee.
Not a pimp, but an abused ho.
Not just a sock puppet, but a stupid sock puppet.

We now return you to our previously scheduled cynical snarking ... oh, wait: Ace of Spades has beaten us to it!

Fine. Let's say there is no secret money moving directly from Armstrong to Kos. ...

Does Kos ever change his tune on a politician according to guaranteed ad revenue from Armstrong's clients?

That's the question, and Kos doesn't even address it.

* * * * *
National Review Online has timelined the Ko$ola scandal. Now let's establish how the story (as opposed to the scandal) has developed.

In January 2005, Chris Suellentrop reported the Armstrong-Kos-Dean consultant connection at Slate, but it seems this story scarcely caused a ripple of wider suspicion.

In October 2005, an Ohio Democrat (and ex-Kossack) sniffed an Armstrong/Moulitsas scam in the Hackett-Brown primary for the Senate (see here and here). This was also noted at the time by a Columbus Dispatch columnist. But for some reason, no one jumped in to investigate the possibility of a larger pattern.

Then, June 8-11, 2006, YearlyKos convened in Vegas, producing a tsunami of MSM coverage.

At YK, questions arose as to why the anti-war Kos was pimping for DLC poster boy Mark Warner.

On June 12, I stumbled over the 17-month-old Slate piece by Suellentrop and leapt to a blindingly obvious conclusion: Kos is a King Pimp Scammer.

On June 16, Suellentrop returned to the "blogola" story, noting that Jerome Armstrong (a) had been sued for pimping stocks during the dot-com boom, and (b) may have sold YearlyKos to Warner (or vice-versa). That story was then picked up Sunday June 18 by the NY Post.

On the evening of June 16, the Ohio Democrat "BuckeyeState" posted "The Armstrong Payola Incubator," reiterating his eight-month-old accusations about the Hackett-Brown race, and concluding:
It became obvious to me some time ago ... that [DailyKos] was a scam, perpetrated on people desperate for change and leadership.
By Monday night, June 19, Dan Riehl had figured out that Corzine's '05 campaign bought some "blogola" through Armstrong's Political Technologies LLC.

So today -- Tuesday, June 20 -- the story went viral. Why? Well, there's an old saying in journalism that "three is a trend" and the Armstrong/Moulitsas "blogola" pattern has now been detected with four campaigns:
  • Howard Dean
  • Sherrod Brown
  • John Corzine
  • Mark Warner
Given the parallels with Armstrong's dot-com pimping, it would defy logic that -- of all the candidates promoted at DailyKos over the past two years -- these four would be the only candidates with whom Armstrong and/or Moulitsas had a consultant-client relationship.

Is it a Hillary hit?
It would seem obvious that Team Hillary's oppo-research team is all over this thing, because her '08 rival Warner got hit by Suellentrop. But no, Garance Franke-Ruta at TAP reports that it was a "citizen investor" who tipped Suellentrop and the Post.

Is it a "right-wing" hit?
So says one Democrat blogger Chris Baker:
Obviously this has been the kind of red meat that the right has been looking for, and they will do everything they can to turn it into a blanket condemnation of the liberal blogosphere. ... They don’t have the time or the resources to wage an effective effort on this issue, even if the “liberal” media will eat it up because it attacks one of their enemies.
Friends don't let friends drink Kool-Aid, Chris.

Some points:

1. Yes, of course, trouble in Donkeyland is always a big funfest for conservatives. But it looks like Democrat hero Paul Hackett was one of the victims of the Kosola scam. And if the Warner-to-Armstrong-to-Kos angle is correct, then are you saying that supporters of, inter alia, Hillary or Feingold are "the right"? Cui bono?

2. The people who did the most to push this story forward were Chris Suellentrop, "Ohio Buckeye," and the Kossacks who complained about Warner's YK appearance. The "right" only picked this up 17 months after Suellentrop reported that Markos and Jerome were blogging on DFA's dime. And except for Dan Riehl's Corzine research, most of what the "right" has done is to assemble reporting by others.

3. The Right "doesn't have the time or resources" to expose this scandal? Are you kidding me, Chris? National Review, American Spectator, Weekly Standard, Fox News ... hello? The RNC research boys would be all over this, to say nothing of the various think-tank operatives. There's plenty of well-paid research professionals in the VRWC, to say nothing of a mighty legion of crafty amateurs who'd bust it open just to get the Web traffic the smoking gun would produce. (Donkey Cons is about #25,000 in Technorati, and we've gotten roughly 2,500 hits off this story so far.)

4. As has been repeatedly observed, Armstrong & Moulitsas aren't exactly the Vince Lombardis of politics. True, they never seem to quit, but they never seem to win, either. From Dean in '04 to Busby in '06, Kos has promoted a seemingly endless succession of losers. Dean couldn't even beat Kerry, who was so pathetic he couldn't even beat Dubya/Bushitler/Smirking Chimp. And, even in the wake of the Duke Cunningham scandal -- the biggest congressional bribery case in U.S. history -- Francine Busby couldn't beat Bilbray.

To the extent that Moonbat bloggers have driven the Democrats leftward and picked a bunch of loser candidates, they have been a tremendous blessing to the GOP (and God knows the GOP needs the help). If the MyDD/DailyKos operation were to continue at its present pace, I dare say that by January 2012, the Democratic Party would be out of business.

5. Scamming is scamming, and it's up to Democrats how they deal with their own scoundrels. What Armstrong & Moulitsas are accused of doing to the Moonbats is quite similar to what Ralph Reed is accused of doing to the Christian Right in the Abramoff scandal. You'll scarcely find a blogger on the right who's been more critical of Reed than Donkey Cons.

There is no indication that Ko$ola involves any crime, nor could it be argued that there is any ethics violation involved, since no one has ever accused political consultants of having ethics. If Democrats don't mind getting bamboozled by fellow Democrats -- hey, it's a free country, pal.

But consider this, Chris: If the Ko$ola gang helps lead the Democrats to another disaster in November, remember that campaign consultants get paid for their services, win or lose.

You? You'll just be a loser, Chris. Again.

See you Nov. 8, good buddy.

6/20: Kosola scandal goes viral
6/19: Will blog for $$$
6/19: Kos pay-for-play scam

6/12: Tin foil: The new fur
6/11: How not to win (Kos video)

6/9: The ultimate losers hit Vegas

Ko$ola is also being blogged by: Politburo Diktat, Outside the Beltway, Hot Air, Chris Nolan, P.J. Comix, Tapped, Crank (Red State), Krempasky (Red State), Ace of Spades, Tim Chapman, Marc Parent, the Blog Herald, Political Vindication, Super Fun Power Hour, Kaus, Blogging Heads, Free Republic ...

Short "ethics" lecture
Martini Republic sez:
We simply found it impractical to aspire to maintain the kind of firewall that exists in print and broadcast media between political advertising and political content, and we hope readers always read this, that, or any site while considering the purse strings attached. All sites should welcome such scrutiny.
OK. Full disclosure: The whole point of Donkey Cons (the Blog) is to sell DONKEY CONS the Book.

That's pretty simple, huh? Pure capitalism is the most honest thing in the world.

We figure, if you like the blog, you'll like the book. Or, at least, if you click onto the blog and see the title "Donkey Cons" and the cover of the book, that's a form of promotion. Thus, we post stuff that's interesting, so you'll click here. Simple.

And so, in addition to items about our raison d'etre -- sex, crime and corruption in the Democratic Party -- the blog sometimes just has fun stuff that people might want to click onto, such as links to Right Wing Howler's "Chick of the Week" (especially when it was Estella Warren).

I'm a long-time admirer of Hunter S. Thompson, who hated the boring, stuffy "objective journalism" of his day, and I have thus always been suspicious of the Olympian Gods of Journalism Ethics. In my view, if you've got the facts right, it doesn't matter how much free food you eat. Just last week, I ate a free lunch at an event where Hillary Clinton spoke -- am I now "compromised"? No, I'm just another journalist who's figured out that eating free is the best revenge.

Whoever said "there's no such thing as a free lunch" was not a journalist.