Joel writes about blogging and PR here: "Lately Microsoft, working through their PR agency, Edelman, has been getting rather aggressive about trying to buy good coverage from bloggers."
Whilst I've had similar doubts myself recently, I disagree when he says that "These gifts reduce the public trust in blogs", because I don't believe there is such a public trust, or that there necessarily should be. To me, one aspect of weblogs is that they're one-to-many conversations; as such they're implicitly untrustworthy - do you automatically believe the first thing a stranger says to you? No, they earn your trust by trusted by others or by building a relationship with you over time.
Anything you read here is certainly flawed: I wrote it here for entirely personal reasons and it's full of my own idiosyncrasies, contradictions and biases. But that's kinda why you're here, no?