I applaud Wal-Mart for reaching out to bloggers and feeding them bits of information, but there are a couple things wrong with their approach, in my opinion: 1) It doesn't appear that they've worked with bloggers to ensure transparency. I would place more of the blame for a failure to disclose on the bloggers themselves, but an agency as smart as Edelman should know better than to take a chance that they will be perceived as puppetmasters.
2) (The biggie.) Edelman shouldn't be handling the relationships with bloggers. Wal-Mart should be doing that. The program in question simply looks like a mere extension of traditional PR, and I think that's selling conversational marketing short. Wal-Mart should ultimately be responsible for conversing with their customers, critics and supporters. Otherwise, how does Wal-Mart ever have a chance to be able to participate in conversations, particularly if they have to coordinate responses through a PR agency and God knows how many other corporate channels?
Of course, I'm assuming that Wal-Mart and Edelman are telling the truth when they say they're not compensating bloggers. If that's not the case, then there's a lot more wrong with this.