The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Does Steve Forbes Know (or Care) What Lewis Dvorkin Is Doing to His Brand?

Posted on | May 1, 2012 | 17 Comments

OK, I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, and actually started to do it two or three times, but set it aside, until at last I’ve had enough: What the hell is Steve Forbes thinking?

What finally pushed me over the edge was when I realized that Rick Ungar is now writing under the Forbes banner.

Does that name ring a bell? In 2009, when the body of Census worker Bill Sparkman was found in a Kentucky cemetery, it was Rick Ungar who notoriously declared, “Send the Body to Glenn Beck” — falsely claiming that “anti-government” rhetoric by Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs had made Sparkman the first victim of Tea Party violence.

Unfortunately for Ungar’s credibility, it turned out that Sparkman had committed suicide and staged it to look like a murder, apparently hoping to secure an extra life-insurance payout for his adopted son.

Ungar has never even admitted he was wrong, much less apologized to the innocent people he defamed, and now this reckless smear merchant has been rewarded with a gig writing for Forbes!

How did this happen? It seems to involve Lewis Dvorkin, a former AOL excecutive who managed to talk Steve Forbes into investing in an online start-up, True/Slant, that Dvorkin created in 2009.

True/Slant began with “a modest $3 million investment,” the New York Times reported in May 2010. If the jarring proximity of “modest” and “$3 million” causes your head to hurt, you’re not alone. As I explained (again) over the weekend, conservative online New Media is starved for capital. Using $75,000 as an average estimated annual cost per full-time employee, for $3 million you could run a 10-man shop for three years and have $750,00 to spare for incidental expenses — even if you never collected a dime of advertising revenue.

Three million bucks is a metric buttload of cash in blogworld, my friends. How this sum could have been described as “modest” by the New York Times is nearly as great a mystery as why Steve Forbes would have bankrolled a left-wing site like True/Slant. Along with such infamous contributors as Ungar, True/Slant also published Barrett Brown, an atheist and heroin addict recently raided by the FBI for his suspected role in the “Anonymous” criminal hacker conspiracy.

About two weeks after Dvorkin was featured in that New York Times article (“Their loftlike office, in a vintage SoHo building, was bare, white and slightly chilly, as if designed to reflect the present ethic of austerity”), Forbes bought True/Slant for an untold sum, and brought on Dvorkin as “chief product officer” to “lead all editorial areas.”

True/Slant was shut down and a handful for Dvorkin’s pets — apparently including Rick “Send the Body to Glenn Beck” Ungar — were put on the Forbes payroll. Forbes is now paying Ungar to bash Mitt Romney, bash Paul Ryan and bash John Boehner, and I suppose all this Republican-bashing might be a sound investment, if Ungar had much of a readership, but he doesn’t. In six days, his attack on Boehner got 4,581 views, and in four days, Ungar’s assault on Ryan got 4,288 views.

Dude: My blog got 11,000 page-views yesterday.

Rick Ungar has fewer than 700 Twitter followers.

I’ve got more than 11,000 Twitter followers.

Look, it’s not just me: Even his fellow progressives are mystified by Ungar’s employment by Forbes, and Ungar is certainly not the only left-winger whom Dvorkin has put on the Forbes payroll. Dvorkin also hired radical environmentalist Steve Zwick, who has repeatedly attacked the free-market Heartland Institute, and who recently lashed out at global warning “denialists”:

We know who the active denialists are — not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn until the innocent are rescued*. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.
They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?

Better question: Why is Forbes paying for this left-wing crap?

Ungar and Zwick were both hired by Dvorkin who, after apparently burning through his “modest” $3 million start-up capital pretty damned quick, was appointed to “lead all editorial areas” at Forbes. If nothing else, Dvorkin is helping Steve Forbes prove the truth of a sound conservative insight: A fool and his money are soon parted.



17 Responses to “Does Steve Forbes Know (or Care) What Lewis Dvorkin Is Doing to His Brand?”

  1. Quartermaster
    May 1st, 2012 @ 11:59 am

    I’m think that real fool here is Steve Forbes. Forbes may be able to afford the loss, but the conservative world can’t afford hits of teh nature Forbes is paying for.

    I’m wodering if Steve Forbes is even paying attention. If so, we can chalk another loss to the dark side.

  2. PaulLemmen
    May 1st, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    I feel even smaller. I am almost to 200 Twitter followers (RSM followed me today) and I hit 204 page views yesterday. On an average day I get 205 pageviews (my best single day was as a side-effect of an Instalanche on DaTechGuysBlog, by a story that had a post of mine linked, 2,374 pageviews). Heck, even the $75K makes my butt itch!

  3. TR
    May 1st, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    Steve Forbes has supported Tom Smith and was behind the scenes in support of Sarah Palin before she declined to run.  He was always a Republican outlier but hey, it takes all kinds.  He at least was not as bad in some ways as his father Malcom Forbes and he still brings some sanity to the Forbes Fox biz show on Saturday AM. 

    Imagine the fireworks would not have even reached 1/2 mega-ton yet Steve Forbes had hired RSM as a political consultant on his magazine. 

    Ahh, one day Stacy, the world will be in alignment and we will will all have our own Rule 5 babe to take home with us too!

  4. gwheelockvan
    May 1st, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

    “Why is Forbes paying for this left-wing crap?”

    Maybe he’s become fond of flat-racks.

  5. Ian Vaughan
    May 1st, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

    Steve Forbes doesn’t own Forbes any more.  He sold it to Bono a couple of years ago.

  6. Jngpersonal
    May 1st, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

    You talk about the need for investment in conservative media instead of investing in these others. It is the same thing that I have seen mentioned numerous other places. I have always been surprised as to why the don’t teach a business plan development and fund raising class at things like blog con. I have been involved in several startups and have helped raise funds for them. I don’t think it’s a result of a lack of money that could be invested its that conservatives don’t put forth a good argument. The argument is always you need to give the money to save the country. Well smart investors don’t invest to save the county (even if you think they should or not) smart investors invest to get a return and ownership. The money is out there look at Glenn Becks empire, carlson raised money to start the daily caller, and now we have the free beacon. You give me a great business plan backed by solid fundamentals and realistic views and I can raise a million dollars.  

  7. TC_LeatherPenguin
    May 1st, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

    TRUE FACT: “Young Forbes was never allowed to ride in Daddy’s yacht until Daddy kicked the can.”


  8. Bob Belvedere
    May 1st, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

    Why do you come here?

  9. ThePaganTemple
    May 1st, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

     I doubt he even knows about it. He probably doesn’t bother himself with such day-to-day minutiae. His staff takes care of matters like that. Of course it will eventually come to his attention, the only question then is, what will he do about it? Hopefully, he will fire not only Ungar, but whoever is responsible for hiring him.

  10. ThePaganTemple
    May 1st, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

     I can’t stomach that Fox business show. It’s more like a damn frat party than it is serious business journalism. I can’t believe anybody watches that shit.

  11. ThePaganTemple
    May 1st, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

    All it takes is a look at the record. Fox News, which I don’t consider truly conservative, has the best ratings of any other cable news show, and most of its audience is conservatives, who know at least there they’ll get some kind of balance in the reporting as well as the opinions.

    And if investors might be worried about the prospect of funding a full-on conservative venture, you need look no further than Rush Limbaugh. And for that matter, look at the ratings of conservative talk radio in comparison to liberal radio.

    Does anybody remember Air America, other than as a vague memory?

  12. Adjoran
    May 1st, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

    Forbes only sold a minority stake in the publishing company to a consortium in which Bono is an investor.  But he hasn’t been involved in day-to-day operations for at least 15 years. 

    Once again, the idea of spending Forbes’ money on conservative bloggers is just fantasy.  If page views and Twitter followers for specific writers had any direct relation to money, you should be kicking Forbes’ butt.   They do not, and so the entire analogy falls flat on its face.  Because it isn’t about a few writers or editors at Forbes versus a few select others from the blogosphere, it’s about the overall performance of the product in the market.

    Everybody always supposes they have a better idea to run someone else’s business – odd they never seem to actually run with the idea, though, isn’t it?  It is still a free country, you can still start up a company, and the news biz is one that isn’t over-regulated by every level of government (yet). 

    If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.  Or you can complain about the existing mousetraps to those passing by.  The ability to do the second in no way indicates an ability to do the first.

  13. Jngpersonal
    May 1st, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    Pagan investors dont just look at the record. The want a full on business plan. The want to know what you plan on doing and when. What your revenue model is. How you are going to acheive that model. Investors dont care about ratings or that conservatives read conservative news. They want to know how you will monetize that. Their not worried about it being a conservative venture they are worried about your ability to monetize it. Thats what investors care about. I mean look Huckabee is getting a huge new radio show, GBTV had investors, Daily Caller had investors, and the free beacon has investors.

  14. Adobe_Walls
    May 1st, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

    And the obligatory Bolsheviks for comic relief on every panel.aren’t very funny.

  15. ThePaganTemple
    May 1st, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

     It’s without a doubt the worst show on Fox. I’d rather watch Lawrence O’Donnell or anybody else on MSNBC than sit through an hour of that silly shit.

  16. TR
    May 1st, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

    You gotta admit though that the gal  from San Fran, Victoria Barret is cute!  (even though, no doubt she probably has a husband or partner, since she just had a kid).  For Sat. pickens with eggs and a side of toast (Tom Waits style) its not too bad.

  17. ThePaganTemple
    May 2nd, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

     I don’t watch news shows to look at the girls, even though there are some who make the news somewhat more pleasant. But nothing can help that crappy Fox business show, short of Katie Holmes in a string bikini.