Ah, dragged in to another blogosphere fight. This post is one of the better ones, but I think there are two key points that are being missed which it doesn’t quite hit.
The first is my wonderment at why opinion for cash is worse than opinion for ideology, bias, pers0nal power, fame, etc. Suppose a weblogger is writing not because he believes in what he’s writing, but because he thinks it might shift public opinion in a way that will allow himself or his cronies to get elected to office after which they’ll loot it in the standard graft way. This, apparently, is OK but if the weblogger takes a bit of cash up front, suddenly it’s some horrible evil.
There’s also all the webloggers trying to get paying jobs. Is it so inconceivable that such people might shade their writing a bit to make that more likely? The result is that spinning one’s writing for remuneration tomorrow is accepted but cash on the barrel today is wrong. Again, I fail to see the fundamental distinction.
The other main thread is strongly related to the first. Since cash in hand is but one of a myriad of reasons for webloggers to spin their output, even if it were eliminated readers would still need to apply a lot of filtering. Moreover, arguments should stand on their own. To discredit them because of bias or cash payments is simply an ad hominem attack that fails to address the substantive point (or lack thereof).
Now, one could argue that cash payments may not create powerful arguments but can shift the amount of bandwidth devoted to different issues. Perhaps. But blogosphere triumphalism says that the blogosphere filters and routes around such distortions that are done for other reasons, why not ones done for cash in hand? And if one is not a triumphalist, why get worked up over it?