Congratulations, Me?

The Federal Elections Committee just ruled that a political blog called Fired Up! qualifies for the media exemption to campaign finance activity. Why care? Because a legal regulation now explicitly validates a blog with status as news media of-a-kind. Interesting consequences of the FEC ruling might be to pave the way for more affirmations of bloggers as amateur journalists, for example extending them the right to confidential sources. (An issue which, just as Scooter Libby receives his inditement, has been reignited by Bob Woodward's recent disclosure that he knew Plame was a CIA operative before even Judy Miller landed the illicit exclusive.)

The BeltwayBlogRoll writes that blogs are responding to the news cautiously, noting that Duncan Black of Eschaton (who contributed testimony to the the FEC), commented warily that the decision is "no guarantee that a future set of commissioners would feel the same."

But Daily Kos touted the ruling as "a tremendous victory for online free speech [that] will impact on the current debate in Congress." Daily Kos is referencing (I believe) the House of Representative's Nov. 2nd sentiment that political blogs should not even be regulated by the FEC. According to AP:

The House voted 225-182 for a bill that would have excluded blogs, e-mails and other Internet communications from regulation by the Federal Election Commission. That was 47 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed under a procedure that limited debate time and allowed no amendments.
Ironically, the bill's sponsors sought to curtail the growth of "soft money"political campaigning, witnessed most drastically by the evolution of the PACs (public action committees) in 2004; and the opponents sought to protect the new campaign finance laws that allowed for a more diffused spending process.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said that without the legislation, "I fear that bloggers one day could be fined for improperly linking to a campaign Web site, or merely forwarding a candidate's press release to an e-mail list."

However, the FEC ruling has now ironically further protected the "soft money," the internet PACs, and the widening democratization of political campaigns. It's almost enought to make the younger me--of a couple posts ago--blush with excitment. Those curious about campaign finance can spy on their neighbors' at opensecrets.org, so long as thery're not a blogger.
Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.
-- Will Rodger