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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Who is Brian Faler and Why is The Washington Post Publishing His FEC 'Reporting'?

Editorial leaders at major MSM outlets like The Washington Post often claim their organizations are more reliable because they employee only trained professionals who are always subject to multiple layers of editing to insure accuracy and fairness.

The often-hollow reality of such claims is demonstrated yet again today on the Post's Federal Page in an article on the FEC and bloggers written by Brian Faler. The byline describes Faler's article as "Special to the Post," which usually indicates a free lancer. No information about Faler qualifications or professional associations are provided.

Faler offers Post readers a lot of opinion but little to indicate the credibility of those expressing the opinions. For example, Faler repeatedly cites sources such as "some observers," "some election law experts" "others pushing for" "those who want additional disclosure requirements " and "some said."

Yet Faler quotes only one named person favoring new FEC disclosure regulations for bloggers and only two other named people appear in the story, current FEC Chairman Scott Thomas and former FEC Commissioner Trevor Potter. Faler identifies neither Thomas nor Potter as advocates for new FEC regulations, though the former seems to be and the latter is on record as a vigorous supporter of new regulations.

But what really makes Faler's article memorable is this line about the fear that bloggers might receive funding that is not adequately identified: "Some election law experts want the FEC to reverse that policy, saying it gives campaigns the opportunity to use ostensibly independent blogs as fronts to create the illusion of grass-roots support ..."

Does the idea that discreet funding could be used to "create the illusion of grass-roots support" remind you of Sean Treglia? Discreet funding of $123 million by eight liberal foundations seeking to create the illusion of grassroots support for campaign finance reform?

Amy Ridenour does a little counting of the pros and cons and has more to say about Faler's article here.

Captain Ed isn't too impressed with Faler's reporting, either, noting that his Post piece is more accurately described as something meant "to scare people, and Congress, into fighting the proposed exemption for bloggers by creating a strawman of rampant corruption in the blogosphere that doesn't exist." The proposed exemption is the Reid-Coburn bill in the Senate that specifically exempts bloggers from proposed FEC regulations governing political speech on the Internet.