Too bad, because that's where the real meat is in this controversy. I don't care that Chris Brogan and Joe Jaffe disclosed that they were paid to post on behalf of Kmart and Sears. They're big boys. They can do what they want.
The issue that's sorely lacking is an objective look at the impact of an episode like this on credibility and trust.
Mitch Joel gave it a good crack with his blog post and we've had several discussions offline about what the downsides are to paying bloggers to post about products.
Bottom line for me is I don't trust bloggers who do sponsored posts as much as those that don't. I'd never suggest to a client that they get into a pay-per-post deal with a blogger because I just don't think they have an impact.
You may beg to differ, but you won't change my mind on this. I don't believe that bloggers shouldn't do pay-per-post. That's their choice to "rent their audience" if they so choose. But I do believe that brands shouldn't get involved with pay-per-post because it's a cheap and obvious shortcut.
I read somewhere that Markets are Conservations. I don't think the inverse is true.
And the authors of the Trust Economy e-book got it right too:
Understand that the digital natives know who’s there to market and sell, and who’s there to build relationships. We (the digital natives) know you’re new. We often can tell really quickly that you’re hoping to introduce your product or service to the conversation. Some of us will even be more responsive to this than others. But, then there will be many who will cry foul the moment you cross the line into pure sales or marketing. Remember, the Trust Economy is a conversation/relationship environment. We know you’ve got a job to do, but there are lots of people who prefer you do it elsewhere if you’re going to use traditional “bomb” marketing and sales efforts, versus “hand to hand” relationship building.