Thursday, July 23, 2009

Are some South Florida bloggers actually paid political operatives? defines the word "shill" as:
"a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty."

I had to look up the meaning of the word after a commentator on South Florida Daily Blog (SFDB) accused the blog's author of being one. I'm not sure whether "Rick", the blog's author, actually denied the allegation. Their exchange took place on this post, the relevant portions being:
"Truther": I won't bother to read your response, because I've seen you do little more than personally attack anybody that posts a comment disagreeing with you. I kind of suspect you're (sic) political blogging is paid for, and you're a shill.

"Rick": As far as your other comments go, you get what you give here, Truther. Use words like "shill" and make spurious allegations and I can guarantee you that the next time you poke your nose in here, using whatever pseudonym you choose that day, you'll be treated accordingly.

I am not sure whether "Rick" intended "spurious allegations" to serve as a denial of his being a paid political operative, or rather as reference to "Truther's" doubts regarding President Obama's place of birth.

The reason I found the exchange so interesting is that I also harbor some doubts as to the motivation for the political posts on SFDB. SFDB, at its core, is a thrice daily digest of South Florida news, aggregated at "Rick"'s discretion. According to the site, "The South Florida Daily Blog sifts through and reviews most of the blogs based in South Florida and highlights those posts that stand out from the rest of the day's traffic." "Rick" does his job well, and I enjoy the stated purpose of the blog. Judging by the discretion he employs when selecting posts for inclusion in his digest, he/she seems to be a well-rounded individual with diverse interests and broad general knowledge.

"Rick" diverts from the stated purpose of the blog several times a week, and takes up certain political topics. This habit of his/hers appartenly caught "Truther"'s attention, as well as mine. These posts seldom relate to local politics, the majority are national in focus.

The political posts are, in my opinion, strikingly dissonant with the rest of the blog. They are inconsistent with the diverse, liberal-minded and educated picture of "Rick" the rest of the blog paints. Instead, they are painfully simplistic left-wing talking points, seemingly harvested directly from sites like Media Matters (cited to and discussed in comments by "Rick" here) and other (allegedly) partisan-funded outlets. It is difficult to believe that the "Rick" who assembles the daily digest could possibly be the same "Rick" who authors the political posts.

I simply dismissed the situation as strange, but "Truther" may be on to something. Is SFDB a sham "astroturf" blog? I use software to block ads in my browser, so I can't say for sure there are no ads on SFDB, but could the regurgitation of left talking points be a source of income for "Rick"? Why not? If he's getting traffic for his well-assembled daily digest, why not sell some of that traffic to political PR buyers?

If its not already what is actually going on, then it certainly would be a brilliant strategy for marketers of all kinds, political or commercial. Either buy "posts" on blogs, or create a franchise of blogs, unrelated to politics. For example, you create a blog devoted to [INSERT CITY HERE] dog owners, where you blog about dog parks, local dog events, etc. Then out of the blue, once a week, the "blogger" goes off on a political tangent under the guise of "just making conversation." Its a beautiful idea, if I do say so myself.

That being said, let me announce to the world that this blog is damn sure for sale! Sign me up! "Rick", if you're out there, please give me the name of your agent!


  1. Interesting theory, King of Cats....a paid political "shill."

    Politics has been part of SFDB from the very beginning and, if you did your homework, is more than posts that are "out of the blue, once a week."

    For the record, I don't receive a dime from any one for blogging.

    This is going to be fun, KC. Keep it going.


  2. Rick-
    I take your word for it that nobody pays you.

    Your comments here are welcome. I doubt I will ever have many commentators, but dissent as well as support is encouraged.