from John Goodman's character in The Big Lebowski
, political campaigning is not like 'Nam. It's like bowling. There are rules.
If you distribute campaign material in Missouri, for example, you must announce
who's paid for it. And if you're already an elected official, you can't use public resources to distribute that material.
But that's "campaigning" in the legal sense. Colloquially, to campaign means "to get people to vote for you." And such activity can fall in a gray area.
Consider the case of St. Louis Core
, a website launched in March 2009 by Board of Aldermen President (and mayoral hopeful) Lewis Reed.
Reed has a background in computer science and set up the site himself, using
his own money. Folks have noticed: In KMOX's Most Valuable Blogger
Awards 2011, it won
with both editors and the voting public.
St. Louis Core purports to be an apolitical community news hub. According to its mission statement
it's "dedicated to covering the issues important to the people of St.
Louis, including highlighting the positive aspects of the St. Louis
Yet lately, it's done a solid job of highlighting the positive aspects of Lewis Reed.
December 1, it has run 20 "feature stories." Within that coverage, 17
photos of Lewis Reed have appeared, and he's also mentioned 10 times --
and I'm only counting Monday's profile of him
as one mention.
(Presumably, this profile ran in case you missed the one back in August
. That's right, he's been profiled twice in five months.)
reader can get a sense of his importance through sheer repetition:
Every single article on board meetings begins with: "This past week the
Board of Aldermen held their weekly meeting, presided by Lewis Reed,
President of the Board of Aldermen." All those articles end by reminding
you that Lewis Reed adjourned the meeting.
Sometimes, coverage is glowing, as in the feature that popped up on December 28
2012-2013 budget in these economic times was one the the most analyzed
budgets in recent years. Due to the leadership of President Reed the
taxpayers of the City are receiving the maximum benefits possible.
All fine and good, if Reed set up St. Louis Core as a private media enterprise (which he says
he did). That would give him the right to steer the message how he
wants. But in that case, why are his city-employed staff members writing
for it, occasionally on taxpayer time?
To apply some