Interior Conspiracies

Originally published at NationalJournal.com
By K. Daniel Glover

A few months ago, Mark Nickolas of Bluegrass Report worked himself and fellow Democratic bloggers into a tizzy about a blog ban aimed at state employees in Kentucky. Nickolas smelled a conspiracy engineered by his political nemesis, Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher, and sued to overturn an Internet-filtering policy that Fletcher’s administration had applied not just to blogs but to numerous categories of content.

Now there is fresh conspiratorial talk about a blog ban — only this time it’s at the federal level, and bloggers on the right are the ones crying foul.

The rumors surfaced last week, thanks to a self-described Interior Department employee who clearly has too much spare time at work. Upon realizing that employee access to certain Web sites had been restricted, the employee compiled a list of inaccessible blogs and contacted Gates of Vienna.

“Please, please get the word out about this,” the employee said. “It not only royally sucks that I can’t read stuff during down times at work, but they are being so blatantly biased as to what is being blocked.” The worker’s list of banned sites included Captain’s Quarters, Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin, Power Line, Protein Wisdom and Wizbang. The list of still-accessible blogs included Americablog, Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo.

Gates of Vienna dutifully spread the word online, and before long, the online legend of the Interior Department blog ban had taken firm root. Atlas Shrugs, Bird of Paradise, Boker tov, Boulder, Brendan Loy, Little Green Footballs and The Retread Ranger Station were among the blogs to post entries about Interior’s actions.

Loy penned this taunt: “I’d love to see the department higher-ups try and explain the selection of banned sites — although I’m guessing this is probably the idiotic decision of some mid-level IT muckety-muck who thought (stupidly) that no one would notice, so I’m sure if the question is asked loudly enough, the policy will change.”

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