Sunday, January 09, 2005

Glenn Reynolds the hypocrite

On Friday, Glenn Reynolds, posting about the Armstrong Williams scandal, goes out of his way to write about his purity:

I've never had anybody offer me money in exchange for blog posts (bogus claims regarding Wonkette notwithstanding), but I have been offered substantial amounts of money to author opeds furthering the agenda of some people. I declined; even if it were an opinion I already held, undisclosed third-party payola just seemed wrong to me.

But quite ironically, on the very same day he wrote a shameless advertisement pretending to be a normal post where he tries to get you to buy a cordless percolator and a french press.

In case you don't know how this stuff works, Glenn Reynolds is using affiliate links. If you click on his link and buy the item, Glenn Reynolds gets a kickback. Essentially he's getting paid to write a blog post about a percolator.

I don't see such a big difference between being paid to write about a political agenda and being paid to write about a percolator. In both cases, he's converting his respect and internet traffic into cash.

Glenn Reynolds might point out that it's transparent he's getting a kickback from the percolator, because anyone can tell by examining the link. And he would have a point, but I think that the majority of web surfers don't realize the true nature of affiliate links and they think Glenn is just enthusiastic about a percolator.

I don't want to get on the bad side of a handsome rich guy like Glenn Reynolds (too bad he's married). I don't think he's done anything wrong by trying to sell a percolator. Many websites shamelessly comingle editorial content with advertising. Check out Christian website WorldnetDaily for example. If I had over 100,000 hits per day like Glenn, you can be sure that I would be trying to make some money from my traffic!

Don't be mad at me Glenn, I still love you.


I wrote another post on this topic: Did Glenn Reynolds really comment on my blog?


Danny Taggart said...

Oh come on now, making $0.10 per click for a percolator is NOT the same thing as accepting a quarter million dollars to push a political agenda. Have a little perspective here.

rox_publius said...

The difference? Open disclosure. When you go to Glenn's blog and see that little box for a six-slice toaster, you KNOW it's an advertisement. You are under no delusion that Glenn has a strong, uncompensated point of view regarding the necessity of six-slice toasters to a meaningful twenty-first century lifestyle.

Accepting cash money (not to mention confiscated taxpayer dollars via the Department of Edumacation) in exchange for your proportedly unbiased viewpoint is unethical at best and downright treasonous at worst.

As for the Bush administration allowing this kind of thing... well... gov't interference in the media has never led to anything positive to the best of my knowledge.

Glenn said...

Er, try reading my FAQs before you call me a hypocrite, next time. OK?

Greg said...

Way to get on Glenn's bad side. I have trouble understanding how his post about a deceptively-titled "cordless" percolator and mockery of its adherents, comparing them to the Mac vs. PC debate, constitutes an advertisement. Advertisements are supposed to make a product look good. And surely you've noticed that Glenn blogs about a lot of fun little trivial things. It says to me he has a sense of humor, not that he's a hypocrite.

Libertarian Girl said...

I'm sure the real Glenn has been called a lot worse then a hypocrite, and he's not going to waste his time with semi-anonymous comments on my unknown blog.

The amount of money he made from the coffee percolator post may be small and pathetic (way less than ten cents per click), but he's still getting paid money for writing about it, so technically when he wrote that he has never been paid money for a blog post, it's not really true.

People visit his blog for his posts about politics and the blogosphere, they really don't care about his coffee maker. I was reading it and I thought "Oh my god! Glenn is trying to make some extra money by linking to a coffee maker. This is so tacky!"

Greg said...

I think you're one of the few who thought that. And I think you're missing the entire point of his post on payola, which is that he controls his agenda, not that he'll never link to a product that a reader might conceivably buy. Be more like the laid-back libertarians at Reason, and less like the humorless blokes at the party itself.

Brian Macker said...

Greg, what makes you think a guy who takes $200,000 is not "controlling his agenda". In that case the agenda being money over credibility.

I don't think it's any big deal since Reynolds does have a disclaimer in his FAQ and the post really was not any sort of advertisement. It was more mocking of the product than anything else.

The other thing is that the money from Amazon comes regardless of which product he chooses. Thus, there is no inherent conflict of interest with his true opinion because he is not being paid more to espouse a particular opinion. I think that this is the most important point that could be made to show that LG is in the wrong here. I wonder if she will apologize.

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