In a link driven world, where attention equals influence, *any* attention is good attention for someone who is a pundit and in the media. Hear me out now…
WashingtonPost.com is aware of the growing controversy over “Red America” – the blog for a part (the majority?) of Americans. If WashingtonPost.com had integrity, they would realize that they didn’t just hire one half of a Crossfire-like team (do they even realize this? if so where’s the other side WaPo?), they hired a political operative and someone who appears to have had a bad plagiarism habit a while back: Salon, Salon, Scott Rosenberg, Atrios, Atrios, Atrios, Albert.
Alex Koppelman calls this affair in a dragonfire piece The Post’s “Embarrassment”. It may well be. But it doesn’t matter. WashingtonPost.com probably already *has* taken its lumps from the Washington Post newsroom regarding this – but WashingtonPost.com is independent of the Washington Post! It has its own management and editorial team. Its audience is national, not local. Its goals and methods to reach that audience are different.
For confirmation, look at this email from the Washington Post disowning any responsibility:
From: Deborah C Howell HowellDC@washpost.com
Date: March 23, 2006 9:44:05 PM EST
Subject: Re: Domenech
The Washington Post has not hired him. The website has. The two are under totally different management. He will not be working for the newspaper. If you want to complain to the right person, try firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think WashingtonPost.com is smarter then everyone is giving them credit for. They took a calculated risk that has generated buzz and interest in their service. From folks they want linking to it. Link bait that has caught its prey. They will “cave” sooner or later and hire a hard left blogger to ‘balance’ Red America. But the influence gain is already done.
Thousands of influential conservative bloggers, plus a heaping of critical liberal bloggers have posted links pointing to Red America. On the web, such activity boosts you in Google and in services like Technorati. That boost equals influence. WaPo.com has probably already gotten a nice bump in hits but the big effect will be the additional Google-juice gained by the time the controversy dies down.
Fuck all about integrity. It’s about hits and Google visibility.
If I’m right, while I am disappointed in WashingtonPost.com – they are helping to further coarsen the dialog in this country (can’t blame them really – is *anyone* trying to get both sides to talk at that level?) – I can’t help but be impressed with their knowledge of the web, of Google, and the blogosphere. And yeah – that’s cold blooded.
Then again, I could be wrong. This is just my opinion.