Politician Cites Blog Commentator In TV Ad

    September 25, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

It’s hard to make TV political ads lower, but politicians have done it by sourcing anonymous blog commentators as detractors of their opponents.

In all fairness, we’ve quoted blog commentators, and have made it very clear that they were commentators, to present a new idea, opposing viewpoint, or unique perspective, under the assumption it was a legitimate commentator.

The difference here is the sheer incentive that the commentator not be legitimate. How easy is it to log in and comment to a blog and then source it? Or maybe you think it’s time to trust politicians.

You can read this Washington Post article and decide for yourself whether that time has come. What’s most interesting in it is that the blog the politician source is actually authored by a supporter of his opponent in the race. It was the supposed commentator, not the blogger, that criticized, yet the blog is sourced as if it is the blog’s stance.

That brings up an old (in Internet years) argument about how much responsibility a blogger bears for comments on his blog. The answer to that is still not completely settled, but often (from my so-not-a-lawyer understanding) courts side with the Communications Decency Act, which protects providers of interactive computer services from liability for third party comments.

The details on that get muddied when bloggers moderate comments, and when they do not host their own blog, but use a service like BlogSpot, which technically makes BlogSpot the interactive computer service and the blogger a publisher.

Regardless, it still seems a bit shady for a politician to source an avatar named "Pitin" as a voice against his opponent.