The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Monday, July 14, 2003

Today Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean starts a guest blogging stint on Lawrence Lessig's blog. (I know very little about Lessig other than that he is a Stanford Law professor and is involved in several internet foundations.) I checked out his first post and found it rather wanting.

Dean chose to complain about Internet deregulation:

The Internet might soon be the last place where open dialogue occurs. One of the most dangerous things that has happened in the past few years is the deregulation of media ownership rules that began in 1996. Michael Powell and the Bush FCC are continuing that assault today (see the June 2nd ruling).

The danger of relaxing media ownership rules became clear to me when I saw what happened with the Dixie Chicks. But there’s an even bigger danger in the future, on the Internet. The FCC recently ruled that cable and phone based broadband providers be classified as information rather than telecommunications services. This is the first step in a process that could allow Internet providers to arbitrarily limit the content that users can access. The phone and cable industries could have the power to discriminate against content that they don’t control or-- even worse-- simply don’t like.

The media conglomerates now dominate almost half of the markets around the country, meaning Americans get less independent and frequently less dependable news, views and information. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson spoke of the fear that economic power would one day try to seize political power. No consolidated economic power has more opportunity to do this than the consolidated power of media.

Ignore for now the silliness of imagining the Dixie Chicks as Solzhenitsyn; as Richard Bennet pointed out in one of his bomb-lobbing comments, the Chicks have benefitted immensely from the scruitiny after attention was drawn to their Bush-bashing gaffe in Britain. What I really object to about Dean's post is that it is just another venue for campaign propaganda, and has nothing to do with blogging.

Start with the post itself; it's phoned in, and could have been written at any time in the last five years. It's not topical or personal or accessible, it's just three paragraphs from a Dean position paper. Then there is a superstructure of campaign activity. The post I quoted was bracketed by two posts from the people who probably did the actual typing, viz:

The post below is from Governor Howard Dean. You can check out the crossposting and commentary at and read more about Howard Dean at Thanks!-- Matt, Zephyr and Nicco, Dean Internet Team

There's nothing really wrong with Dean having a bunch of piss-boys type his words into Lessig's blog. And there's nothing really wrong with the fact that Dean is not going to respond to comments, and almost certainly will not even read them. That's how presidential campaigns work. But please don't make the mistake of thinking this whole publicity stunt has anything to do with blogging.



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