Charlie Pierce over at Esquire Magazine online, is usually pretty astute about all things political, especially anything having to do with the insanity and flim-flammery of right wing conservatives.
But Charlie, in this post, stumbled across something, apparently unbeknownst to his self, that humble bloggers like The Gadfly have been ruminating about on their shitty little plots of cyber space for quite some time.
I have been remiss in not commenting on the fascinating piece in Tiger Beat On The Potomac this morning about the financial arrangements between various conservative sugar daddies and the radio stars of the far right, which is further proof that Ken Vogel is the most valuable asset that publication has. (Ably assisted in this case by Mackenzie --To The Ramparts Of Chapultepec! -- Weinger.) It seems that conservative political talk has brought us into an entirely new frontier of payola.
A POLITICO review of filings with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission, as well as interviews and reviews of radio shows, found that conservative groups spent nearly $22 million to broker and pay for involved advertising relationships known as sponsorships with a handful of influential talkers including Beck, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh between the first talk radio deals in 2008 and the end of 2012. Since then, the sponsorship deals have grown more lucrative and tea party-oriented, with legacy groups like The Heritage Foundation ending their sponsorships and groups like the Tea Party Patriots placing big ad buys.
Now I am no radio expert, but it seems to me that arrangements like the ones described in this investigation -- e.g. $1.3 million from the Heritage Foundation to Sean Hannity in 2011 -- largely would immunize the hosts against pressure from both sponsors and ratings. Why worry about landing that male-enhancing account or those nifty auto-glass commercials if Americans For Prosperity can just cut you huge checks just for...well, for just being you.http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Political_Payola
There is actually a term for this chicanery. It is known as "Wingnut Welfare."
Yup. And here is the "official" definition of what it is:
Wingnut welfare refers to jobs or deals offered to conservatives on the basis of ideological purity rather than talent or experience. The term was coined in 2005 by blogger Jane Hamsher, who used it in reference to Pajamas Media. It has since become a popular term among liberal bloggers.
Wingnut welfare typically describes positions at conservative publishing houses, opinion journals and websites. However, not all such positions are considered wingnut welfare. The term is generally applied to those positions or deals which are divorced from free-market business principles. Put simply, wingnut welfare recipients are not expected to generate profit or even make any money at all. Such operations are heavily subsidized by wealthy benefactors such as William Regnery Jr. and Richard Mellon Scaife and organizations such as the John M. Olin Foundation.http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Wingnut_welfare
In the simplest of laymen's terms, here is how it works.
Some right wing loon (some form of minor celebrity status is usually a prerequisite) somewhere gets a bug up their political ass and decides to write an article or a book attacking and trashing progressives, democrats, Obama, the "liberal media" or whatever their outrage of the day is, and so they shop it around to friendly media outlets (publishing, tv, web, etc.), and then they rely on a well-coordinated network of wealthy conservatives to fund the publishing of it. They collect the undeserved paycheck upon publication and recycle the money right back in to crafting ever more articles and books of dubious nature and equally dubious socially redeeming value.
A simple, more specific example would go something like this: Ann Coulter writes a screed smearing the patriotism of liberals who questioned Bush's decision to invade Iraq. She lines up a right-wing sugar daddy like Richard Mellon Scaife or the Koch Brothers, who buy up a million copies of her book. They subsequently turn around and peddle those copies away for pennies on the dollar to literature brokers and other retail book outlets, all the while pimping the book as a "best seller" that has sold a million units and therefore deserves prominent display at the front of the retailer's main display case. And now that Coulter is a "best seller" author, she gets invited to pimp her book on Fox "News" and AM hate radio and the cycle of degenerate narcissism is complete.
So you see how that works kids? It's all a bunch of bullshit smoke and mirrors to give the impression that the screed penned by the conservative "author" has widespread appeal and therefore national consensus popularity - when in fact it has none at all. It's quite a racket they have going on, and with the rise of the Tea Party, the underhanded practice of doing it has only become more prevalent in the conservative movement.
If you ask The Gadfly, the fact that the conservatives have to resort to such childish deceit and subterfuge to get their viewpoints out in to the arena of public discourse to begin with, truly is a tell-tale sign of just how noxious and unappealing those views must actually be to most Americans.
Anyhow, just something to think about the next time you're at Barnes & Noble and see a book by grifters like Rush Limbaugh, or Dinesh D'Souza, or Sarah Palin sitting in the main display case with the gaudy claim of "New York Times Best Seller!" as a selling point --- it's just a bunch of double-dealing bullshit lies.