Bloggers Put On Pinstripe Suits

Bloggers who built their Internet followings with anti-establishment prose are now lobbying the establishment to protect their livelihoods from federal regulations.

Some are even working with lawyers, public-relations consultants and a political action committee to do it.

"I like to think of myself as just a guy with a blog, but it's clear that 'just a guy with a blog' is different today than it was when I started three years ago," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the Web log www.DailyKos.com. "One sign of having arrived is when government regulators start wanting to poke their fingers into what you do."

Moulitsas was to testify Tuesday at a hearing on a Federal Election Commission proposal that would extend some campaign finance rules to the Internet, including bloggers.

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. He is prepared to lobby Congress himself if necessary, and he is the treasurer of BlogPac, a political action committee formed last year by bloggers.

Duncan Black — who founded the www.atrios.blogspot.com blog — featured a headline Monday on his Web site, "Bite me, Congressman," that linked to a diatribe against a Republican House committee chairman over global warming.

Asked whether the use of hearing testimony and PACs is a sign that bloggers are succumbing to mainstream political techniques, Black said he and his colleagues have no choice.

"I think once you do achieve a certain degree of traffic, influence, notoriety — however you want to call it — eventually the outsider label is not perfectly applicable anymore," said Black, who describes himself as a "recovering economist." He too planned to testify before the FEC.
  • Dan Collins

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