By Jeff Fecke | September 27, 2006
Michael Brodkorb responds to yesterday’s charges against him with a heavy dose of personal martyrdom, leavened with a dollop of self-righteousness:
The majority of the attacks focused on a one-time payment I received from Michele Bachmann’s campaign. This payment was properly and legally disclosed on Bachmann’s FEC report over three weeks ago. I will remind my friends in the liberal blogosphere that I am under no legal obligation to disclose a professional business relationship with a campaign on my personal blog.
No, Mike, you aren’t. And you haven’t. And that isn’t a crime, and I don’t think anyone said it was. It is, however, deeply disingenuous–it’s never good to lie to your readers, and posting on MN-06 while taking undisclosed money is lying in my book.
But my ethics are not governed by legal interpretations. This is why I have gone through the unprecedented efforts of creating a disclosure page on my blog. This page has taken longer to produce than I expected, but it will be posted in the next few days.
Uh…there are two lies in that sentence. The first is that the disclosure page is “unprecedented.” Hardly. I’ve got one. DFLSenate has one. I imagine a high percentage of blogs have them. They’re not the herculean task that Brodkorb suggests–mine took me about three minutes to create, and most of that was the time it took to boot my computer.
The second lie, of course, is that Brodkorb has created a disclosure page at all. After all, even if it was poorly done, he’d get some marks for having an extant one. But he doesn’t, and while he’s been saying he’ll get one for months, he still hasn’t done so. Indeed, he can’t even be bothered to post his ad hoc disclaimer from his Kennedy posts on a permanent page. (Or all his Kennedy posts–but that’s another story.)
I previously wrote on Minnesota Democrats Exposed:
Bloggers in Minnesota do a great job of policing other bloggers with undisclosed professional connections to campaigns.
What I learned today is that liberal bloggers do a great job of policing conservative bloggers with undisclosed professional connections to campaigns. But liberal bloggers have no interest in policing other liberal bloggers even if their conduct damages the reputation of the blogosphere.
I’m not sure what Michael would have us do, other than march down and beat up Noah Kunin, which seems unduly harsh. More than a few of us have noted that Noah screwed up big-time, and that he has to deal with the consequences of that. Meanwhile, how many conservative bloggers has Brodkorb “policed?”
I believe there are liberal bloggers with undisclosed professional connections to campaigns. I know there are liberal bloggers who fail to post disclaimers on posts discussing their clients. I strongly believe there are numerous nervous liberal bloggers tonight who are worried about similar posts attacking their lack of disclosure. Don’t worry, you won’t be reading any posts attacking you Minnesota Democrats Exposed. [sic]
Why not? What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If I’m taking in $10K a month from the Sharon Anderson campaign and only weakly disclosing it–if at all–then damn right I should be called on the carpet for it. It goes to my credibility as an “independent” blogger.
Now, Michael may be taking the high road–and I might be able to run a four minute mile. But I wouldn’t bet on either. My guess? Michael doesn’t have anything on any liberal bloggers of any note–but he’s sure going to imply stuff.
I have written before that the ultimate responsibility lies with each individual blogger to ensure they operate their blog without an inherent conflict of interest. As I am a Republican operative who exposes Minnesota Democrats, I am continually aware of my responsibility to disclose any conflict that could tarnish the effectiveness of my blog.
This is what is known in semantics as a “lie.” If Michael Brodkorb was “continually aware” of his responsibility to disclose conflicts, he wouldn’t have failed to do so on nineteen consecutive Kennedy posts last week. He would’ve disclosed the relationship with the Bachmann campaign immediately. He would have noted that he’s being paid an annualized salary of $55,000 to serve as a press flak for the Kennedy campaign–or at least that this payment was a significant amount.
Let’s go back in time and look at the disclosure made when Brodkorb was hired by Kennedy:
I am excited to announce that starting Monday, I will be a part-time consultant to Mark Kennedy’s U.S. Senate campaign. I am not a full-time paid campaign staffer and the concept of me working with Mark Kennedy’s campaign only became a reality in the last few days.
That’s truthiness in action. No, Michael Brodkorb is not a full-time campaign staffer. But he’s being paid like one–more than all but four full-time staffers, in fact, including Kennedy’s press secretary. Ethics demand that fact be disclosed.
It was not.
We move on to the next segment of Brodkorb’s response, the laughably-titled “MY LIFE IS ONE BIG DISCLOSURE.” Now, the funny thing about that is why whe know Mike Brodkorb is Mike Brodkorb. Why, you ask? Because he was outed by a lawsuit:
I had previously stated that I would never reveal my identity. I may have been naive to think I would be able to expose Democrats in the land of Hubert H. Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone, while keeping my true identity a secret.
So if your life is “one big disclosure”–but you were never going to reveal your own identity….
Well, let’s just say that you don’t get points for bravery when you do stuff you have to do.
Anyhow, back to the whining:
What my friends in the liberal blogosphere fail to recognize (I thought of this as I was driving home from a phone bank) is that since I have chosen to work in politics I can’t hide how I make a living. My life is one big disclosure.
No, Mike, we’re well aware of the fact. It’s you who have been hiding your work with Bachmann and your significant salary from Kennedy.
You are able to attack my work for Mark Kennedy, because FEC rules require expenditures to be publicly reported. You are able to see that I was paid a one-time fee from Bachmann’s campaign, because it was publicly disclosed. You are able to attack me for my work with the Campaign for St. Paul’s Future, because it was publicly disclosed. You can attack my previous employment with the Republican Party of Minnesota because it was properly disclosed.
Again, no points for doing things you have to do. Good for the Kennedy campaign for following the law, but if you’d had your way we wouldn’t know who Michael Brodkorb was–and there wouldn’t be a way to tie MDE to Brodkorb.
Is this fair? Yes, it is and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life is one big disclosure.
In a matter of minutes, anyone with an internet connection can find out more about me than you can your average blogger. I’ve got nothing to hide.
Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.
At any rate, next Mike attacks Robin Marty for practicing journalism. I’ll quote the full segment:
Sadly, I would like to express my personal disappointment in the conduct of Robin Marty from Power Liberal. Yesterday, I received an email from Robin asking for confirmation that I make $4500 a month as a part-time consultant to Mark Kennedy’s campaign. I decided to call Robin on her cell phone and I informed her that I am technically paid $4583 per month.
I asked Robin why she was asking and she said she was writing a post about “the salaries of staffers on U.S. Senate campaigns.”
I was very surprised when I read Robin’s post and discovered what her story was actually about.
Upon further thought, I believe Robin’s answer to my specific question was technically accurate, but purposely deceptive. I left numerous messages for Robin to contact me today, but I haven’t received a return phone call or a response to sent emails. I assume that Robin’s lack of response is a evidence that she may be embarrassed about her conduct.
Robin achieved her goal of writing a post attacking me, but in the process she lost a fan of her work and an ally in the blogosphere.
In numerous media interviews I have plugged the work of Robin and her blogs Power Liberal and DFL Senate. I won’t be making that mistake again.
I don’t even know where to begin with this whining. Taking things in reverse order, I would have to ask if Michael was plugging the work of DFLSenate when he slimed Patrick Timmons, but that’s too easy, so I won’t.
No, I’ll deal with the laughable idea that Robin owed Michael any more than a “technically accurate but purposefully deceptive” explanation. She didn’t. Robin was researching a story on Michael Brodkorb. I know Michael may expect that people will fax him copies of stories on him in advance, but they aren’t going to, any more than I expect he calls Mike Hatch up and explains every story he writes.
No, Robin had a good reason not to alert Michael about what the exact subject of her story was–she was trying to write a well-sourced, accurate, and complete story that wasn’t going to go up in a series of half-baked posts, but in a complete and thorough article. She shouldn’t be embarassed about her conduct–she should be proud of the top-notch article she produced.
And somehow, I think she’ll survive without your help.
Mike’s concluding paragraph is more of the same:
In closing, I will repeat that what my friends in the liberal blogosphere fail to recognize is that since I have chosen to work in politics I can’t hide how I make a living. My life is one big disclosure.
You are able to attack my work for Mark Kennedy, because FEC rules require expenditures to be publicly reported. You are able to see that I was paid a one-time fee from Bachmann’s campaign, because it was publicly reported. You are able to attack me for my work with the Campaign for St. Paul’s Future, because it was publicly disclosed. You can attack my previous employment with the Republican Party of Minnesota because it was properly disclosed.
Is this fair? Yes, it is and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ll fight a disclosure war with the liberal blogosphere any day of the week. I’ve got nothing to hide – do you?
So to sum up: I had to disclose who I was because of a lawsuit, and my patrons had to disclose that I work for them because of FEC regulations. And I know it will come off poorly if I complain, so hey, whatever. But watch out, ’cause I bet somebody’s done something somewhere that I can turn into a nine-part series, despite the fact that I said earlier in this screed that I won’t.
In the end, Mike Brodkorb has written quite a bit–most of it pointless–and the funny thing is that he really never addressed the heart of the problem.
The problem is that Brodkorb wants to have it both ways. He wants to be an independent blogger and a highly-paid political consultant.
But consider Brodkorb’s job. He’s a press flak. His job is to get media play for the Kennedy campaign.
Now consider MDE’s job. He’s a media outlet.
So what does Brodkorb do? In order to get media play for the Kennedy campaign, he walks to the computer and publishes a story on his own media outlet.
I don’t know of a firewall that could possibly exist that would make that kosher. There is no way Brodkorb can be seen as an independent blogger.
That’s the problem–Brodkorb’s voice is not independent. It’s bought and paid for. And the simple fact that he won’t–and can’t–address that is telling.
Mike Brodkorb needs to choose whether he values his job or his blog more. Unfortunately for him, the two are inextricably linked. He’s less valuable if he shuts off his megaphone. Surely Brodkorb knows that. It’s time the rest of us acknowledged it, too.
- BREAKING: DIRTY TRICKSTER MIKE BRODKORB FAILS TO DISCLOSE KENNEDY CAMPAIGN LINK IN POSTS ATTACKING KLOBUCHAR CAMPAIGN
- BRODKORB ADDS DISCLAIMERS AFTER THE FACT, FAILS TO APOLOGIZE FOR NOT ADDING IN THE FIRST PLACE
- NO MINNESOTA CONSERVATIVE BLOGGERS CONDEMN BRODKORB
- UPDATE: WHY HAS BRODKORB NOT DISCLOSED RELATIONSHIP?