New logo for GigaOm? Or TechCrunch?

Much love to our friend Jean-Paul Buquet, cartoonist for Macsimum News, for this cartoon. By way of explanation: It’s recently been discovered that certain bloggers have been taking money from Microsoft and then using Microsoft’s “people ready” slogan in their writing. “Spokesblogging,” it’s called. [Shurely “streetwalking”?! Ed] See examples here. The bloggers involved were part of the Federated Media network. Federated did the deal with Microsoft and then solicited “spokesblogger” comments — say something nice about “people ready” and you get some ads on your blog.

Basically this is akin to a movie studio saying to the New York Times, We’ll buy ads for our new movie in your paper — but only if you can get your movie reviewer to write something nice about our movie, so we can put that nice quote in the ad that we run in your paper. Geddit? (In the TV biz it’s called “the Shalit maneuver,” or “pulling a shalit.”)

Bloggers involved include Om Malik and Michael Arrington. Arrington is huffing and puffing that there’s nothing wrong with bloggers doing what he did. He ends up sounding like a gal who’s trying to convince you that she’s not a “prostitute,” she’s an “escort.”

What makes this delicious is that these “spokesbloggers” are the same sanctimonious twats who are constantly spouting bullshit about the glories of “citizen journalism” and patting themselves on the back and congratulating themselves for being so much more ethical and independent than the dreaded “Mainstream Media.” Riiiiight. That anyway was their story a few years ago. Now that they’re all struggling to make money they’re bent over their desks with their pants down, and it turns out they’re even easier to buy off than their Old Media counterparts.

And highly ethical Microsoft — of course, who else? — is first in line to take advantage of the situation. First they gave out free Vista laptops to bloggers. Remember that? Now they’re turning bloggers into Vista spokespuppets, paying them to parrot back Microsoft’s vapid catchphrases. For years Microsoft has faced a traditional press corps that is almost uniformly hostile to Microsoft and can’t be bought off. But bloggers? They practically go around with “For Sale” signs on their foreheads. The blogosphere turns out to be a wet dream for Microsoft.

Few final notes:

1. I’m proud to say that here at Apple we don’t pay off bloggers and hacks; we go to the trouble of hypnotizing them. It’s a lot more work, but we think it’s worth it.

2. Bit of advice to Microsoft: If you’ve got to pay spokesparrots to spout your slogan, you probably need a better slogan.

3. FWIW, Fake Steve did not participate in the spokesblogger scam.