The Reputation of Bloggers

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Pete Snyder

When you read a piece written on one of the multitude of blogs out there, do you ever stop to think about the author?  For example, do you ask what motivated him or her to craft the article and what agenda he or she is trying to advance?  Yes, when it comes to politics there are conservative blogs, liberal blogs, blogs that promote a grassroots or anti-establishment point of view, and those who seek to prop up certain elected politicians.

Last weekend I took a good bit of time to ponder this thought.  Several months ago a candidate contacted me as he was considering hiring me for his campaign.  After several abortive attempts I finally I spoke with his campaign manager just recently.  Although I was told that they didn’t have the funds to make an offer at this time, I was informed that I could help them out by writing pieces on this website critical of their opponent.  It was hinted that doing so might improve my chances of future employment.  However, the more I thought about the matter, the more it disturbed me.

One of my primary motivations in writing The Virginia Conservative is to report on political events around the state (especially in the Shenandoah Valley), offer my thoughts about politicians, their staffers, and legislation, and do my small part to promote political dialogue as well as the ideals of liberty and limited government.  The pieces I’ve written here I do so because I think they are important, because there is some matter that ought to be brought to public attention.  Have my opinions shifted and changed with time and new information?  Of course!  If you scroll back, you can find writings from 2008.  Who can honestly say that he or she has remained completely the same in an eight-year period?  However, no one has ever paid me to write anything that you find on this website and all thoughts presented (unless otherwise indicated) are my own at the time that they were written.

In response to this recent suggestion from the campaign, I included this statement in the message I wrote the candidate:

…I was asked to write pieces on my website attacking one of your opponents. If I were to do so, I was told it could improve my chances of getting hired when money became available.  Similarly the Stimpson campaign tried to funnel anonymous attack pieces through me in 2013, but I refused to do so.  Although I have made quite a few enemies these last few years, I always try to write what is true and right, not simply what benefits my point of view.  Given my limited experiences with [your opponent] in 2011, I believe it would be a terrible mistake for the voters of [your] district to choose him and I may write a piece to that effect on The Virginia Conservative.  Nevertheless, I steadfastly refuse to become a political hack, degrading either my honor or my work to do the behind-the-scenes hatchet attacks of others…

I was later informed that this situation arose out of a misunderstanding.  But it did get me thinking.  Is this idea foreign to many political blogs?  Are they merely fronts for various organizations, candidates, and politicians, willing to write whatever makes their clients look good (or calls their enemies into question)?

Let me expand on what I wrote concerning the Stimpson campaign.  Back in 2013 the Susan Stimpson campaign for lieutenant governor contacted me prior to the Virginia Republican Convention.  One of her staffers wanted me to write a piece critical of both Jeannemarie Davis and Pete Snyder, two of Stimpson’s opponents that year.  As such, they provided me with information and quotes from a gathering elsewhere in the state.  I did not personally attend this event, so the only material I had to work from was the information provided from the Stimpson campaign.  First of all, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic to attack either Davis or Snyder.  Both Jeannemarie Davis and Pete Snyder had taken time out of their campaign schedule to meet with me personally.  Although the Stimpson campaign repeatedly suggested a similar face-to-face meeting, they never made good on this promise.  However, in the interest of promoting dialogue, I agreed to write up a piece using the material that they sent me provided that I could mention that I had received this information from the Stimpson campaign.  However, they didn’t want their opponents to know that their campaign was behind it and so declined.  As a result, I decided not to run the story.

So are bloggers seen as mere mercenaries for hire these days?  Given some of the seemingly baseless attacks from one of the larger Virginia blogs against a certain legislator, I sometimes have to wonder.  Much like super PACs, do politicians and groups funnel money to bloggers to anonymously attack their foes?  Has that become our reputation?  If so, I would be ashamed to call myself a blogger. I would not want to associate with any writer or campaign that thinks that this kind of behavior is okay.  Yes, I do have an agenda to promote dialogue and liberty, but I feel if others discovered that I were writing thinly veiled behind the scenes attacks (paid or even unpaid), it would completely obliterate my credibility and any chance of even an attempt at objectivity.

Perhaps I am wrong.  After all, donations are few and far between and the costs of running The Virginia Conservative are higher than the monetary gains.  Nevertheless, I hope my readers can rest assured that when they read an article on this site, it isn’t written because I am getting paid to promote a certain cause or candidate. I do it because I’m one of those people who believe in what they say and think that honor is worth more that the lure of a possible job.  Revisiting 2013 once more, I’d like to believe that Ms. Davis and Mr. Snyder approached me because they considered me to be fair and objective, focusing on the issues we have in common, and not simply as someone who can be bought off to support a certain point of view.

So, what do you see as the reputation of bloggers?

All Quiet On The Southern Front

Working for the Ron Paul Presidential Campaign back in the late part of 2007 and early days of 2008 was certainly an interesting experience.  During my time, as I traveled the state of South Carolina, I had the good fortune to meet a Charlestonian radio host by the name of Jack Hunter.  Much like myself, he is a conservative political commentator who deplores the neoconservative hijacking of the Republican Party that strongly took root during George W. Bush’s first administration.  As a side note, unlike Mr. Hunter, I have so far been unable to achieve any sort of long or short-term job prospects as a result of my efforts.  But getting back to the subject at hand, many of his fans know Mr. Hunter by the moniker of the “Southern Avenger”.  In his early days, he even went so far as to appear in a mask just like so many of the professional wrestlers he enjoyed in his younger days.  Although such a practice might seem strange, I have discovered that until a person becomes established in political commentary, he or she often adopts a literal (or not so literal) cloak of anonymity.  His recent work includes pieces in the Charleston City Paper, The American Conservative, Taki Mag, and YouTube.  He is certainly one who tells it like he sees it and is driven to spread his ideology rather than making nice with the establishment.  Along with several other individuals, I credit Jack with helping to spark my creative energies that led me to create the political blog you are reading now.

Recently, the internet has been void of new commentary from the Southern Avenger.  Much to the dismay of his fans, his YouTube site has not been updated in several weeks. Given the growing agitation, I contacted him recently via Facebook to discover the cause of his absence.  He informed me that he was on hiatus and was toiling on a special project.  Once it is concluded, he should be returning to his regular activities.  So Southern Avenger fans, you should rejoice.  Jack Hunter will rise again.

In closing, if you have not heard the Southern Avenger’s viewpoints, I encourage you to check out his vast library of videos found on YouTube.  As with any political commentator, I doubt you will agree with him 100%, but I expect you’ll find something that you like.  Just a couple of clicks should be well worth your time.

Two Candles

Today is the day.  The Virginia Conservative has been around for two years now!  Two years!  Some of you have recently found this site; some of you have been visiting for the last several months or more.  Though mainly political, we’ve covered a variety of topics in the pursuit of limited government conservatism.  I’m pleased to say that site views have over doubled from the previous year.  More and more folks are tuning in and this influx is exciting!  Just remember, to reclaim our nation, we must accomplish three important tasks: spread our message to others, promote sound legislation, and elect like-minded leaders.  What this next year will bring I cannot say, but I hope you will continue to join me in the journey!

For liberty with responsibility!

Vote! Vote! Vote!

The big day is today.  Election Day has come at last.  Assuming my automatic timing is correct, polls are just now opening across the commonwealth.  So get out there and vote. If you don’t, and your side doesn’t win, you have no room to complain.  I’ll accept no excuses.  Although I’m many miles away from the 26th district right now, I voted absentee.  It wasn’t hard.  Our state needs strong, conservative leadership which is why we need to elect Bob McDonnell as our Governor, re-elect Bill Bolling our Lt. Governor, and Ken Cuccinelli as our Attorney General.  In addition, we must increase the number of conservatives in the House of Delegates.  So don’t wait until five minutes before seven to vote.  Make time.  Vote now.  It’s worth it.  Although separated in many cities and counties, tonight we will celebrate victory as one.

As a side note, I’m pleased to announce that The Virginia Conservative has passed the 10,000 views mark!  Thanks for joining me so far.  I’m looking forward to the road ahead.

Oh yeah…one last thing…vote!

For liberty with responsibility!

No Political Distortion

With Election Day about two weeks away, you may be wondering why I haven’t been writing more about the election.  The answer is twofold.  First of all, I’ve been extremely busy with work.  I certainly wish I had more time to blog during a time like this, as the news is practically unlimited.  The second is that I’m a bit restricted about my subject matter.  As a result of my current employment I can’t write as much as I’d like about the statewide races or the House of Delegates.  Believe me, I’ve read, seen, and heard a lot that I’d love to share, but for the good of my work I’ve refrained from doing so.  The reasoning for doing so is that I don’t want this blog to be used against my employer.  This campaign is not about The Virginia Conservative, per se and the small potential exists for my writing to serve as a “macaca moment” for our opponents.  Now that’s not to say that I’ve been coerced into writing favorable articles about any particular candidate or issue.  I assure you that this blog has, and will continue to focus on my ideology and my understanding of current and past events and politicians.  Although I may abstain from discussing certain issues, I will not distort my politics under any circumstances.

Moving on to an unrelated subject, I wanted to share a few pictures with you from Sunday.  That night I attended a Social Distortion concert with a friend from work.  Of all of the iTunes that I play at both this job and my last, I’ve gotten the most comments/complaints about Social D’s version of Ring of Fire.  Although I’m sure most people are far more familiar with Johnny Cash’s version, is it honestly better or just different?  Decide for yourself.

Either way, it was a great concert and I encourage you to check out their music.

Social D 1

Social D 2

Only 14 days until the election so let’s get out there and win this thing!