Posted on | August 23, 2010 | 38 Comments
It was kind of weird to see myself quoted in a Daily Caller story with the headline, “True stories of bloggers who secretly feed on partisan cash“:
Conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain complains that politicians aren’t purchasing more advertising on blogs. “Advertising buys good will,” he says.
That complaint was in response to something reporter Jonathan Strong told me, and which he reports in his story:
In December of 2009, Red County received $20,000 from the Meg Whitman campaign, which has sent the site $15,000 a month since then.
Do the math. That adds up to about $125,000 — an insane sum to pay for blogging, which Strong implies was a quid pro quo, since Red County bumped an anti-Whitman blogger from its site.
We’ll let others debate the ethics of such transactions. What I see here is an example of several different problems with the Republican Party’s approach to New Media. As I explained to Strong, it would have been a lot smarter for Whitman to “spread the love” around the blogosphere, perhaps by buying Blog Ads (my rate is $25 a week) or Google AdSense placements.
If the Whitman campaign wanted to put all its eggs in one basket, however, why not throw $20,000 into the “Southland Fundraiser” idea that Joe Fein at Valley of the Shadow suggested? Bring several bloggers to L.A. for a weekend event that would combine New Media outreach with a joint fundraiser for candidates and the state party. However such an event was structured — seminars about online activism, meet-and-greets with candidates, etc. — it would serve many purposes, especially putting California “on the map” with conservative bloggers.
That kind of “more bang for the buck” approach is one I’ve discussed often with other bloggers — including my buddy Jimmie Bise Jr. of Sundries Shack — and yet it seems impossible to get people to listen. The strategic payoff of Rule 2 is to spread the linky-love around and build up the newer and/or smaller blogs, so that the conservative ‘sphere has a broader reach and a deeper base.
Most conservative bloggers are part-timers, for whom a couple of hundred dollars a month would be a godsend. Trying to “monetize” Web traffic is a notoriously difficult task, and even successful full-time bloggers aren’t exactly “farting through silk,” to borrow P.J. O’Rourke’s colorful phrase. You’ll notice that Professor Glenn Reynolds hasn’t quit his day job, and Ace of Spades isn’t lighting Cohibas with $100 bills.
I’m not the only blogger quoted in Jonathan Strong’s story:
“Riehl World View” readers might be interested to know that Riehl is not simply a blogger, but also a paid consultant to the RNC. In an interview, Riehl said he was paid an amount in the “hundreds of dollars” for writing a strategy document on how the RNC could better reach out to bloggers. Riehl said his motivation for defending Steele was to aid the Republican Party, and that he didn’t disclose his consulting work because, “I didn’t see it as having anything to do with my views.”
“I never made enough money to be bought,” he said. . . .
Dan Riehl is from New Jersey, as I often point out, and my advice to anyone who asks about him is always, “Don’t f— with Dan Riehl.” I’ll leave it to Dan to judge whether Strong has ignored that advice, but there’s something else that Strong quotes Dan about:
If it appears that conservative bloggers are more likely to take campaign money than their liberal counterparts, there may be a reason. According to Dan Riehl, conservatives can’t rely on the infrastructure of foundations and think tanks that supports so many liberal bloggers.
Riehl has made it a goal to mobilize conservative benefactors and organizers to establish a funding infrastructure mimicking what the liberal “netroots” created during the Bush years. “They did it the smart way,” Riehl says.
Dan’s comment about the relationship between conservative institutions and the blogosphere deserves a post of its own, but I’ll briefly say this: There is a notable tendency of all organizations on the Right to hire buttoned-down, strait-laced College Republican types. There is a glaring disconnect between these GOP clonebots and the conservative blogosphere, which tends to attract hell-raisers, wild cards and loose cannons who don’t like being told what to say and do.
I’ll leave that little lecture for another time, however, as it now appears that Dan Riehl isn’t very happy with the Daily Caller:
Straighten your bow-tie, jerk. You look like a fool to me from here.