The email reprinted above is the founding document of the beloved Media Bloggers Association, that venerable organization that bloggers across the world recognize as the leading bullshit pretend front for one self-aggrandizing tool to get on TV all the time and pretend to represent citizen journalists. That they recognize now, anyway, because until the MBA inserted itself into the Associated Press blog dispute, no one had heard of the four-year-old organization. Though Robert Cox, the guy behind the MBA, was perhaps more well-known as the notorious right-wing crank and annoying tool behind Olbermann Watch, the blog that disagrees with everything MSNBC host Keith Olbermann says. Come read the email that started it all, and learn so much more about Robert Cox.

Amusing that a dude so obsessed with the right-wing canard of the liberal media would found a "non-partisan" blogging organization that exists solely to suck up to the established press, right? Anyway, back in 2004, Cox sent this email to 9 TOP BLOGGERS inviting them to become members of his new club. The new club's purpose was "to promote its members." That was really about it. It was also about a little logo you could display on your site.

I envision three types of memberships..."FOUNDING MEMBER", "MEMBER", "HONRARY MEMBER". The MBAA Logo will indicate one of the three types. Obviously this is your only chance to get what I expect will be a coveted FOUNDING MEMBER logo.

Man, we are so disappointed that we missed that boat. We all know how much cred a FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE MBA badge gets you these days.

And now, over the years, as those founding members accidentally let their memberships lapse, the MBA has grown into Robert Cox's personal publicity organ. Mainstream media need someone to show up on TV and represent bloggers? Call Cox! He's got a prestigious title from a real-sounding organization, and that looks way better on an identifying chyron than some weird U.R.L.. Cox has made the most of it, as an investigation by Teresa at Making Light reveals. He doesn't blog very much or very well, but he shows up at every single conference foolish enough to invite him. And he's turned his right-leaning advocacy group into a money-maker!

He began charging dues shortly after he got some big dogs to sign up for free (see? we're legitimate!).

And so his group, initially founded to professionalize and legitimize bloggers, now exits to enrich Robert Cox and make him the Official Face of Mainstream Blogging for old media. And he's using his friendship with the print press to put together a list of guidelines we must follow if we wish to quote the Associated Press without getting sued.

Oh, and Cox also guards his Wikipedia entry as if it was his child. So go have fun!

AP to negotiate with sham "Media Bloggers Association" [Making Light]