Nationally noted political blogger, Peter Daou, who writes the Daou Report for Salon, announced that he would begin doing political consulting for Hilary Clinton’s upcoming presidential campaign. One of his alleged goals will be to try to undo some of the damage done to her reputation by the savage attacks emanating from political blogs like Daily Kos and many others. In short, most Democratic political bloggers detest Hilary. Daou’s going to try to undo that or at least mitigate it. All I can say is good luck. I think he’s running a fool’s errand.
But what I personally find even more troubling is that Daou will continue to be affiliated with Salon & the Daou Report while he works for Hilary Clinton. To me this raises too many possibilities of conflict of interest between his allegiance to Clinton’s campaign and the interests of his Salon readers.
While I generally decried the attacks on Kos by David Brooks & Chris Suellentrop, one thing I thought valid was the latter’s contention that when you’re a political blogger who also consults you have two masters. Can you serve each one well and not do a disservice to either? Perhaps. But perhaps not.
I think it’s too much of a crapshoot for Salon not to disaffiliate with Peter for the duration of his involvement with Clinton. When he writes about politics in ways that even remotely intersect with Clinton how will we know which hat he has on? How can we see him as a fully disinterested observer of the political scene? In short, how can we fully trust what he’s saying to us?
My views on this subject are influenced by the post I just wrote about Kos’ troubles with the conservative and moderate media types who’ve just tried to roast him for various alleged ethical misdeeds. In that post, I called for a political blogging code of conduct which, among other things, would insist that political bloggers enumerate precisely their consulting relationships: how much they’re making, who they work for, etc. But the issue for Daou and Salon is even more complicated since Salon is not his site. That’s why I think it would be far better for the two to part ways at least temporarily.
It’s similar to what happens when a media/news personality declares themselves a candidate for political office. It’s customary for the customary for the candidate to take a leave of absence so that the radio or TV station’s credibility and non-partisanship will not be questioned. I don’t think the Daou-Salon situation is much different.
As for Salon, what will it do with Daou’s material? Will it publish a disclosure each time he publishes which notes his involvement with Clinton. And if not, why not? How will it enforce a separation between Daou’s work for the site and his political affiliation? How will it guarantee that his professional prejudices will not inform his writing for Salon? I have written to Salon asking them to clarify what their policy is regarding their politics writers who consult for political candidates; and what Daou’s relationship with Salon will be while he works for Clinton. No answer yet.