Why can Leo Laporte and Disney do it, but Mike Arrington and TechCrunch can’t?

Tonight I was driving home from a family party with Patrick. We were listening to KGO Radio. AM-810. It’s the best rated talk station in the San Francisco area (and is among the best rated station in the world). Its signal can be heard from Alaska to Mexico. The show we were listening to was Bill Wattenburg.

Two ads on KGO caught my ear. The first was an ad for Pat Vitucci and AIG, here’s a list of some of KGO’s advertisers. It was read live by Bill Wattenburg. He endorsed Pat’s seminar.

The second was by Leo Laporte, who came on and endorsed GoToMyPC in his own voice.

I’ve heard Leo endorse other products on KGO recently too in advertisements, including a security dongle (Kevin Mitnick also did such an endorsement).

KGO Radio is owned by Disney Corporation.

These two examples of advertisements are FAR further along the endorsement line than what was done by Federated Media. The ads that caused the TechMeme outcry were NOT endorsements at all, but were just bloggers talking about an advertising slogan and even then weren’t told what to say.

But the ads on KGO radio go FAR further. Most of the ads that hosts on KGO read are from a script. It’s pretty clear that the company is paying those ad readers to say specific things.

Now, I know Leo is pretty high integrity guy. I doubt he’d do an ad for a product he really hated, but would he really endorse GoToMyPC if he weren’t being paid? Might he endorse a different technique? Or teach people how to do such a thing without a commercial product? I’ve listened to Leo a lot (I used to help run his chat room back when he was a host himself on KGO radio back in the mid 1990s) and I could see him teaching people how to do it themselves without buying a third-party product to let you remotely access your files.

One thing, though, all these ads are totally disclosed. It’s very clear they are paid advertisements and are separate from the editorial copy. It’s very clear that Leo is getting paid to take these editorial stances.

But, still, why isn’t everyone yelling and screaming about these kinds of ads on professional media (this is one of the world’s top radio stations, owned by a huge multi-national corporation)?

Here’s why? Beating up on Disney won’t get you any links. Won’t get you on TechMeme. Won’t insert you into a conversation. Won’t build your traffic.

In fact, Leo is so popular and credible that beating up on him might cause a major blowback the way that beating up on Macs usually gets you hundreds of angry commenters (ask John Dvorak about that one).

Now you know why Valleywag is still pushing this story front and center (even Larry Page, cofounder of Google, arriving at FooCamp in a helicopter couldn’t push this story off of the front page over there).

Translation: there’s lots of professional endorsing that’s been going on for years (this isn’t new). As long as it’s disclosed I don’t see the problem with it.

On the other hand, Jeff Jarvis has a major problem with these kinds of advertisements. I respect Jeff’s stance but don’t think Jeff’s stance will be followed by everyone.

For me, I will disclose when I’m doing stuff for money. I’m not going to be as pure as Jeff Jarvis is, sorry, but when I’m not I’ll let you know so you can make up your own mind about what I’m saying.

UPDATE: Leo Laporte explained why he does radio endorsements in my comments and that he won’t endorse a product that he doesn’t already use (and has turned down requests for endorsements from other companies because of that). I believe him when he says this, too, because I’ve seen him turn down advertising and sponsorship opportunities.

185 thoughts on “Why can Leo Laporte and Disney do it, but Mike Arrington and TechCrunch can’t?

  1. Robert,

    I think it’s simply down to the stupidity and immaturity of the medium and the detractors of this campaign.

    I figured these were ads, I assumed most normal people would.

    What federated media done was actually quite innovative for the medium of blogging, and moved it on.

    But bloggers do often have a high opinion of themselves, and their utopianism.

    As long as all campaigns/writers have a disclosure page, like a privacy policy page; and the campaigns themseligns themselves have something like “brought to you by, in partnership with…, etc. then most people following the same conventions as other established media won’t have a problem.

    Yours kindly,

    Shakir Razak,

  2. Robert,

    I think it’s simply down to the stupidity and immaturity of the medium and the detractors of this campaign.

    I figured these were ads, I assumed most normal people would.

    What federated media done was actually quite innovative for the medium of blogging, and moved it on.

    But bloggers do often have a high opinion of themselves, and their utopianism.

    As long as all campaigns/writers have a disclosure page, like a privacy policy page; and the campaigns themseligns themselves have something like “brought to you by, in partnership with…, etc. then most people following the same conventions as other established media won’t have a problem.

    Yours kindly,

    Shakir Razak,

  3. This wouldn’t have happened if the phrase “People Ready” weren’t so frickin’ lame. It’s a failed meme, and TechCrunch is now paying the price for supporting something so utterly lame.

  4. This wouldn’t have happened if the phrase “People Ready” weren’t so frickin’ lame. It’s a failed meme, and TechCrunch is now paying the price for supporting something so utterly lame.

  5. It’s simply a case of tradition in different mediums. People are accustomed to ads read by people in radio, it’s just been going on for decades. Double standard rears its ugly head whenever a new medium is introduced and weened during its infancy.

  6. It’s simply a case of tradition in different mediums. People are accustomed to ads read by people in radio, it’s just been going on for decades. Double standard rears its ugly head whenever a new medium is introduced and weened during its infancy.

  7. jccalhoun,

    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/RapidsCCM/Register.asp?lang=E
    If anybody else wants to file, you can do so online here.

    Here is my specific complaint. I strongly suspect Leo chose Amber’s replacement knowing the CRTC regulations on Canadian programming.

    Here is a copy of my complaint as plain text.
    http://www.nordikel.com/complaint.txt

    It is simple and straight forward. If it can not be understood, then I fear for the competence of our Govt.
    The cable broadcasting license they were given was a privilege and not a right, and they were given it on condition that they would respect our norms and interests. I honestly feel they betrayed the public trust.

  8. jccalhoun,

    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/RapidsCCM/Register.asp?lang=E
    If anybody else wants to file, you can do so online here.

    Here is my specific complaint. I strongly suspect Leo chose Amber’s replacement knowing the CRTC regulations on Canadian programming.

    Here is a copy of my complaint as plain text.
    http://www.nordikel.com/complaint.txt

    It is simple and straight forward. If it can not be understood, then I fear for the competence of our Govt.
    The cable broadcasting license they were given was a privilege and not a right, and they were given it on condition that they would respect our norms and interests. I honestly feel they betrayed the public trust.

  9. Chris –

    How is Leo personally responsible for abusing Canadian content laws? Shouldn’t Rogers Cable be the one that you hold responsible for the abuse? I really don’t see how Leo is the one doing anything wrong. His show in the US got canceled. Rogers called him up and said, “Hey, you want to come up here and do it?” so he did.

    If anyone is doing anything wrong it is Rogers cable. However, they are trying to abide by the laws by having Canadian co-hosts like Andy Walker, Monica Latonwa (sp?), and Amber MacArthur. They also had a lot of Canadian guests on the show.

    On the new show there are numerous Canadians in front of the camera and I’m sure that everyone behind the camera is Canadian as well.

    I’m sure that if Leo could get a show on in the US he would much rather do it in the US than having to fly away from his family for a week at a time once a month and film 20 shows in that week.

    Leo is just trying to earn a living. If you want to complain about someone complain about the Canadian companies hiring Americans.

    And on PBS there is tons of stuff that is from the UK and some from Canada. There isn’t any programming on PBS that is reserved for US-produced content.

  10. Chris –

    How is Leo personally responsible for abusing Canadian content laws? Shouldn’t Rogers Cable be the one that you hold responsible for the abuse? I really don’t see how Leo is the one doing anything wrong. His show in the US got canceled. Rogers called him up and said, “Hey, you want to come up here and do it?” so he did.

    If anyone is doing anything wrong it is Rogers cable. However, they are trying to abide by the laws by having Canadian co-hosts like Andy Walker, Monica Latonwa (sp?), and Amber MacArthur. They also had a lot of Canadian guests on the show.

    On the new show there are numerous Canadians in front of the camera and I’m sure that everyone behind the camera is Canadian as well.

    I’m sure that if Leo could get a show on in the US he would much rather do it in the US than having to fly away from his family for a week at a time once a month and film 20 shows in that week.

    Leo is just trying to earn a living. If you want to complain about someone complain about the Canadian companies hiring Americans.

    And on PBS there is tons of stuff that is from the UK and some from Canada. There isn’t any programming on PBS that is reserved for US-produced content.

  11. @83 and 84.Brian old media’s for the masses new media is for those connected and looking for more. Sadly that may always be the case. I applaud these geeks for advancing the web 2.0 space.Yes disclosure is important that seems obvious. But old media’s advertising model does also seem to be the most viable for web 2.0 sites.. that is…traffic + advertising = viability.

  12. @83 and 84.Brian old media’s for the masses new media is for those connected and looking for more. Sadly that may always be the case. I applaud these geeks for advancing the web 2.0 space.Yes disclosure is important that seems obvious. But old media’s advertising model does also seem to be the most viable for web 2.0 sites.. that is…traffic + advertising = viability.

  13. You can only defend somebody mindlessly up to a certain point. And that threshold has broken for Mr. Laporte and Greedy Productions.

  14. You can only defend somebody mindlessly up to a certain point. And that threshold has broken for Mr. Laporte and Greedy Productions.

  15. “most recently, Leo LaPorte”

    If Leo doesn’t want people ranting against him, maybe he shouldn’t have abused the system in Canada.

    You can use whatever colourful adjectives you like and I know you probably have a thesaurus sitting right next to you, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that what Leo is doing here is essentially illegal. It certainly goes against the spirit of the laws put in place to protect Canadian programming.

    You want adjectives?

    Podesta is an insane lunatic whos name is irrelevant and who is such a p*ssy he has to post anonymously and can’t back himself up. How did I do?

    Can I host Fox News now? I am Canadian after all.

    Talk is real cheap on the Scoble blog. My complaint against Leo is going out for real. I am also going to lodge a complaint at ITAC.

  16. “most recently, Leo LaPorte”

    If Leo doesn’t want people ranting against him, maybe he shouldn’t have abused the system in Canada.

    You can use whatever colourful adjectives you like and I know you probably have a thesaurus sitting right next to you, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that what Leo is doing here is essentially illegal. It certainly goes against the spirit of the laws put in place to protect Canadian programming.

    You want adjectives?

    Podesta is an insane lunatic whos name is irrelevant and who is such a p*ssy he has to post anonymously and can’t back himself up. How did I do?

    Can I host Fox News now? I am Canadian after all.

    Talk is real cheap on the Scoble blog. My complaint against Leo is going out for real. I am also going to lodge a complaint at ITAC.

  17. @79 “I think what they mean is ‘any behavior that will make money for me is fine.’ Surely, that is what Mike Arrington meant in his defense of his sleazy conduct. T’aint so. Not knowing that ‘anything for a buck’ is not acceptable is in itself is a failure of a test of basic integrity.”

    Seriously? Look, it’s not like these people are taking money to promote anything unsavory (let the MS bashing begin!). If someone wants to take money to promote a product, hey, good for them! And this is not “any behavior”, it is someone capitalizing on his “reputation”, credible or not. Nothing wrong with that, IMHO. Most bloggers sense of their credibility is self imposed so the only thing many of them are risking is not fomenting their narcissism. The general public is pretty smart and able to distinguish the difference. If bloggers think they can’t, perhaps the bloggers “credibility” is not what they think it is.

  18. @79 “I think what they mean is ‘any behavior that will make money for me is fine.’ Surely, that is what Mike Arrington meant in his defense of his sleazy conduct. T’aint so. Not knowing that ‘anything for a buck’ is not acceptable is in itself is a failure of a test of basic integrity.”

    Seriously? Look, it’s not like these people are taking money to promote anything unsavory (let the MS bashing begin!). If someone wants to take money to promote a product, hey, good for them! And this is not “any behavior”, it is someone capitalizing on his “reputation”, credible or not. Nothing wrong with that, IMHO. Most bloggers sense of their credibility is self imposed so the only thing many of them are risking is not fomenting their narcissism. The general public is pretty smart and able to distinguish the difference. If bloggers think they can’t, perhaps the bloggers “credibility” is not what they think it is.

  19. @81. you mean like talk radio in the “old media”. I would submit that is MORE of a “conversation” than this “discussion” How is this type commenting any different than newsgroups? Which have been around since…well, the internet. Seriously, when you get down to it, blogging the context of creating “conversations” is not all that effective.

  20. @81. you mean like talk radio in the “old media”. I would submit that is MORE of a “conversation” than this “discussion” How is this type commenting any different than newsgroups? Which have been around since…well, the internet. Seriously, when you get down to it, blogging the context of creating “conversations” is not all that effective.

  21. The big difference between old media and new media?

    Old media is important. New media just thinks it is.

    Seriously, every time the concepts of “business” and “blogs” join in the same conversation, we see the demagogues rise out to denounce revenue models.

    2c.

  22. The big difference between old media and new media?

    Old media is important. New media just thinks it is.

    Seriously, every time the concepts of “business” and “blogs” join in the same conversation, we see the demagogues rise out to denounce revenue models.

    2c.

  23. My point was Podesta that this is not something new, and any journalistic enterprise that claims there is a hard line between advertiser dollars and editorial copy is lying to you.

    I am not condoning it I just know it to be the truth.

    What FM and its talent did was much less deceptive than any number of common practices of the MSM.

  24. My point was Podesta that this is not something new, and any journalistic enterprise that claims there is a hard line between advertiser dollars and editorial copy is lying to you.

    I am not condoning it I just know it to be the truth.

    What FM and its talent did was much less deceptive than any number of common practices of the MSM.

  25. I’m still rather amazed that some vacuous people are still insisting that mouthing advertising copy for money without disclosure is a ‘gray area.’ I think what they mean is ‘any behavior that will make money for me is fine.’ Surely, that is what Mike Arrington meant in his defense of his sleazy conduct. T’aint so. Not knowing that ‘anything for a buck’ is not acceptable is in itself is a failure of a test of basic integrity.

    Robert, other people have brought this problem to your attention, but I’m going to add my voice. ‘Chris’ has become a burden to Scobelizer. On any thread, many, sometimes as much as half of the comments, are his. They are either promotion of his business, inane rambling or attacks on someone (most recently, Leo LaPorte). I find myself reluctant to read the blog as a result and suspect scores of other people do, too. You are running a blog here, not a mental health service. It is time to do something about ‘Chris.’

  26. I’m still rather amazed that some vacuous people are still insisting that mouthing advertising copy for money without disclosure is a ‘gray area.’ I think what they mean is ‘any behavior that will make money for me is fine.’ Surely, that is what Mike Arrington meant in his defense of his sleazy conduct. T’aint so. Not knowing that ‘anything for a buck’ is not acceptable is in itself is a failure of a test of basic integrity.

    Robert, other people have brought this problem to your attention, but I’m going to add my voice. ‘Chris’ has become a burden to Scobelizer. On any thread, many, sometimes as much as half of the comments, are his. They are either promotion of his business, inane rambling or attacks on someone (most recently, Leo LaPorte). I find myself reluctant to read the blog as a result and suspect scores of other people do, too. You are running a blog here, not a mental health service. It is time to do something about ‘Chris.’

  27. @66 Again you are missing the point. The issue is not specifically the Sprint vs iPhone example. The point is to summarily say you would turn down $1MM to endorse something you may not use is easy to say in the theoretical world. It’s much different when the offer is actually on the table. Again, as noble as you sound, everyone has a price. Moreover, you don’t have to keep the money. Maybe you can’t but I certainly could find A LOT of good things to do for a million dollars in exchange for endorsing a product at least one time. By a show of hands, how many think Tiger Woods really drives a Buick as his preferred automobile?

  28. @66 Again you are missing the point. The issue is not specifically the Sprint vs iPhone example. The point is to summarily say you would turn down $1MM to endorse something you may not use is easy to say in the theoretical world. It’s much different when the offer is actually on the table. Again, as noble as you sound, everyone has a price. Moreover, you don’t have to keep the money. Maybe you can’t but I certainly could find A LOT of good things to do for a million dollars in exchange for endorsing a product at least one time. By a show of hands, how many think Tiger Woods really drives a Buick as his preferred automobile?

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