Red herring run

Red herring run

: RatherBiased and now a Pittsburgh columnist and now Instapundit are all nattering that CBS is in some payola scandal or conflict of interest — take your pick — because (a) CBS interviewed Bill Clinton and (b) CBS’ web site has an Amazon affiliate.

Oh, come on.

That’s the most crimson of herrings. These people all know in their sane moments that no one at CBS is choosing to interview the former President of the United States and now author of what may be a record-setting biography beause they might make, oh, 20 bucks from Amazon. Yes, and when they put on TV’s 10th home improvement show, it’s obviously because Amazon sells tools, right?

These critics better be careful, for if they set this as the standard for conflict of interest, then all bloggers who open up for ads are going to find themselves tied in knots: Take an ad for Walmart and Walmart sells books and so you’re tainted, eh? And what about the columnist who complains: Shouldn’t he start off every column with a disclosure of all the paper’s sponsors who pay his salary? Oh, yes, then there’d be no room for a column. But in this case, that may be a good thing.

Come on, folks.

: By this same logic, the LA Times is engaging in payola every time it reviews a movie since, on its web site, it has a deal with Fandango to sell movie tickets.

: UPDATE: Now this is just too beautiful. I go to the aforementioned columnist’s page and what do I see? Why, yes, an ad for the aforementioned Clinton book. So this columnist is sucking at the Clinton teat. Spit out that milk of commerce, boy! See for yourself:


: UPDATE: Let’s imagine this scene: Sumner Redstone calls in Don Hewitt and Dan Rather and giggles as he says, “Let’s get Bill Clinton onto 60 Minutes and when his book comes out our secret Amazon deal — well, actually, it’s not a secret; anybody can see it — will make us hundreds, I tell you, hundreds! That will cure our pathetic stock price, boys! Hee-hee-hee!”

Folks, this is about the most ridiculous meme I’ve yet seen. It makes Michael Moore’s almost-seven-minutes-in-the-classroom meme look like Pulitzer-calibre reporting.

If you want to complain about Dan Rather’s questions, fine. I’m no Rather fan; in a major national magazine, I called him the dumbest anchor alive. You want to complain about Bill Clinton’s answers, cool. I like Clinton; you don’t; that’s politics.

But this is below naive. In New Jersey, we have a word for it: It’s dumb. And, frankly, it doesn’t speak well for weblogs. Imagine you’re a first-time reader, having heard about the balanced, intelligent, nuanced, sophisticated, savvy discussion that occurs on weblogs. You come into the middle of a discussion about how 60 Minutes had on the former President of the United States and author of a record-selling book because they’d make a few Amazon affiliate bucks. It would make you run back to the comfort of old media. But you’re better than that, aren’t you?

: Q&O castrates this meme with a swift and sharp knife. [via Instapundit]

Max Black says:

Of course, Jarvis is right but I’m still fuming about the CBS 60 minute Clinton infomercial. In any case, CBS should have noted the apparent conflict of interest.

Oliver Willis does a little digging — didn’t take much; anybody could have done it; good on Oliver for doing it — to point out who owns the aforementioned Pittsburgh paper. Why, its none other than the behind-the-scenes bad guy of The Hunting of the President, the Clinton hater of Clinton haters, Richard Mellon Scaife. Says CNN:

Scaife’s tax-exempt foundations disclose their grants on the Web. Among them: $2.4 million over several years to American Spectator to pay for anti-Clinton reporting, even a private eye to dig up dirt. And millions more went to other anti-Clinton groups.

Hmmm. Shouldn’t the columnist have disclosed that: “My money to write this very column comes from the guy who spends his money to smear Clinton.” Not doing so is what I’d call, well, a conflict of interest to beat all conflict of interests. But I expect no more of the likes of these.

Says Oliver: “Nothing to see here, move along.” Yes, sir, officer!