Bloggers Go Mainstream to Fight Regulation

Just so we don’t get sidetracked on personality issues. What is at issue is freedom of speech. If internet related communication which is essentially any computer mediated communication is restricted by the imposition of financial sanctions, regulations or compulsory disclosures, what will result is an indirect tax on the press. Dissemination of information will be restricted to those who can afford to maneuver through the system. That is not a free press. It’s almost like a STAMP ACT.

Are bloggers going mainstream? Web log founders who built followings with anti-establishment postings are now lobbying the establishment to try to fend off government regulation. Some are even working with a political action committee, lawyers and public-relations consultants to do it.

They say they have no choice.

"There's a certain responsibility I have to help protect the medium. I have the platform, the voice to be able to do so," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the Web log www.DailyKos.com.

Moulitsas testified Tuesday at a hearing on a Federal Election Commission proposal that would extend some campaign finance rules to the Internet, including bloggers. He urged the FEC to take a hands-off approach.

"We have a democratic medium that allows anyone to have true freedom of the press. We have average citizens publishing their thoughts through research, through journalism, their activism and encouraging others to do the same," Moulitsas told commissioners.

Moulitsas also is working with a lawyer who volunteered to help bloggers fight new government regulations and whose efforts were promoted in a PR firm press release Monday. Moulitsas is prepared to lobby Congress himself if necessary, and he is the treasurer of BlogPac, a political action committee formed last year by bloggers.

Another witness, Michael Krempasky, founder of RedState.org, a pro-Republican blog, called bloggers "citizen journalists" and said that like traditional media, they should get an exemption from campaign finance regulation.

"What goal would be served by protecting Rush Limbaugh's multimillion-dollar talk radio program, but not a self-published blogger with a fraction of the audience?" Krempasky asked the commission.