Monday, March 07, 2005

Regulating blogs?

I didn't really get into the big stink over comments made last week that blogs might be under the purview of the FEC. The idea that any journalist who mentions a specific campaign or gives to that campaign the same way a donor does is just stupid. Columnists mention campaign and politicians all the time, and that doesn't count as contributing, so why would blogging about them? That's why I really think you should read Mark Schmitt's take on the affair.

That's mostly right. Even without calling him a liar, it's enough to note that Smith, a Trent Lott appointee to the commission, opposes all campaign finance reform and the very existence of the agency that he chairs and that pays his salary. If he says that the FEC might have to regulate bloggers linking to campaign web sites, it's certainly not because he wants to or thinks the FEC should regulate such activity, or any other. It's because he wants to make the argument that the current trend in regulation might lead to that point. And he would find it useful in his own deregulatory campaign to get the internet activists worked up about a threat to them (us). He's not saying this because the FEC is actually about to enact this regulation. This is reminiscent of those "Congress is about to tax the internet" scares of a few years ago.
It goes on from there to describe the myriad ways that Smith might be trying to end regualtion of campaign finance or scare Congress into some kind of regulation of the Internet. It's a great piece.

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