If FTC Regulates Blogger Conflict of Interest, What about the Post?

From (our new favorite) the Consumer Advertising Law Blog, “FTC Prepares to Crackdown on Conflicts of Interest in the Blogosphere“:

Controversy is brewing over whether the FTC will exercise its enforcement discretion and go after bloggers for violations of the current testimonial guides or the revised testimonial guides once they are approved (likely later this summer). The issue is whether a blogger who is compensated by a manufacturer should disclose the connection when recommending the product. The compensation can be in the form of cash, advertising dollars or products, such as a free computer or a free vacation. Does compensation in any form affect the bias of the blogger such that a failure to disclose violates Section 5? Should the concern be limited to cases of cash payment but not free product? Does it depend on the total value of the compensation, whatever the form?

Conflict of interest for bloggers, eh? And if the FTC has the power to regulate that, well…

From Politico, “Washington Post sells access, $25,000+“:

For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to “those powerful few” — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer is detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he feels it’s a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff.”

The offer — which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters — is a new sign of the lengths to which news organizations will go to find revenue at a time when most newspapers are struggling for survival.

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