Bloggers on the Payroll

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 29, 2006; 7:46 AM

Are liberal bloggers about to become part of the Democratic establishment?

This is no theoretical question, now that Hillary Clinton has reached into the cyberspace ranks and plucked a liberal blogger from Salon. (Yes, I'm sure it's just to help her keep her Senate seat this fall.)

The question has been bouncing around the increasingly influential blogosphere and debated by the practitioners themselves. Are lefty bloggers just foot soldiers in a grand effort to help the Democratic Party retake the Hill and the White House? Or are they independent commentators who are sympathetic to liberal politicians but will criticize them when necessary?

Because if it's the latter, wouldn't they zip their lips when a policy disagreement might prompt criticism that would hurt the party?

Hillary has tapped Peter Daou, who worked for John Kerry last time and has devoted his Salon column (which includes cyber-roundups from the left and right) hectoring the MSM for slobbering over Republicans and stiffing Democrats. Daou says his mission is "to facilitate and expand her relationship with the netroots."

Former Virginia governor Mark Warner has already hired his own blogger, Jerome Armstrong, Kos's co-author on the book "Crashing the Gates."

Kos, who did a stint with Howard Dean's '04 campaign, remains independent, though sometimes he makes endorsements, as he did in appearing in a campaign ad for Ned Lamont, the Democrat challenging Joe Lieberman in an August primary.

So are these bloggers just hired as ambassadors to a constituency group? Will they have real influence on campaign strategy? Are they just window-dressing?

A couple of HuffPost contributors weigh in on Daou and the larger issue. Cenk Uygur sees three possibilities in Daou becoming part of Hillaryland:

"1. Hillary will actually listen to what Peter has to say and adjust her views and actions.

"2. They will not be able to see eye to eye and Peter will be ignored and then will eventually leave the job.

"3. Peter will become an apologist for Hillary's current stances on things like Iraq, which are hideous and morally repugnant.

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