Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post. Bloggers vary in how they disclose such freebies, if they do so at all.
The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.
Bill Kristol was on retainer with Enron and never disclosed it. George Will accepted a large honoranium right before he wrote a glowing review of Conrad Black's biography of FDR. So why would a blogger with a free laptop be different?