One of the big stories of 2005 has to be the extent to which the media turns out to have been bought and paid for, bullied and manipulated by an elaborate right wing money machine. Each new week brings some shocking revelation about how the White House kept its illegal activities out of the pages of the major papers by its bullshit claims about national security, spiked the stories it found unflattering by denying "access" to journalists and then just plain bought off those who were otherwise too lazy to cooperate.
I have to say the last few weeks have amazed even me.
On one hand it has lead to a burst of blog traffic as people realize they can’t trust media outlets who are so busy dry humping a corrupt administration that reporting the news isn’t even an afterthought. But on the other it has lead to an incursion of GOP money to prop up the right-wing blogosphere in an attempt to skew the dialog in the same way they have the MSM.
People have wondered why we’re bitching about Pajamas Media and the so-called "liberals" who have chosen to hitch their wagons to them so let me explain why this isn’t just some bloggy infighting. When liberal bloggers join the "advertising liberally" network we do one thing — sell ads. Our finances are incredibly transparent, just look up and see our rates and the number of paid ads and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what we make. The rate we charge is based on traffic we manage to generate, subject to the much-vaunted "free market" that the wingnuts are always applauding. If we churn out shit and nobody wants to show up and read it, we don’t make anything.
And most liberal bloggers make just that — nothing. People like TBogg, Roy and Roger Ailes, amongst the very best voices in the blogosphere, all manage other paying gigs and then snatch what time they can away from their families to blog. There is nothing on the right — and I mean nothing — that compares with their quality, their insight, their wit and their panache.
When the wingnuts chant their talking points like a bunch of tambourine-beaters at the airport, they want to be paid for their efforts. And Pajamas Media was set up to do just that. They received by some accounts $7 million dollars to subsidize 70 right wing bloggers, and if you look at their sites there are no ads, many don’t even identify their affiliation with a logo. Look at some full-on loon like the Confederate Yankee who earns his/her 800 hits a day by having seizures over Google’s attempts to mock Christmas with Jesus butt plugs. The General will easily draw twenty times the traffic with his rapier-witted takedown, but the Confederate Yankee probably earns a lot more money than the General. These illiterate zeros are being paid out of principal, not out of any ad revenues. They are all Armstrong Williams.
The Pajamas Media folk ridicule the liberals they have bought for the purpose of rendering them neuter and biting their heads off like chickens in some geek show. Let’s just be clear, they didn’t offer this gig to James Wolcott who could tear them to shreds and blow the pig up from the inside, and they didn’t want anything to do with Crooks and Liars who draw more traffic in a day than all these fools combined simply by putting their cretinous droolings on video clip display. They are not there to make a profit. There is no "business model" involved. And every criticism they all laid at the feet of every East German factory worker after the toppling of the Berlin wall — they have no ability to work in a competitive environment, they know they will never be fired — comes into play. They’re fools, but they’re subsidized fools. They never have to worry about traffic, they never have to be even a little bit clever or creative or think or even spell right.
All they have to do is continue to repeat what they’re told.
In the past year alone many fine voices on the left have stopped blogging because they could no longer spare the time, had to go tend to their lives and finances. You won’t have to worry about that with the Pajamas Media crowd. Even the most dilatory, the most insultingly stupid amongst them will continue to be subsidized and probably make more than Digby. More than Billmon. All that noise about the free market, natural selection and survival of the fittest is just so much racket.
So the next time you hear us bitching about Pajamas Media, the incursion of right wing money into the blogosphere or the compromised voices of the "liberals" they’ve bought, remember that it’s just another attempt to control the message. They’re not our "counterparts on the right," they’re paid operatives. I’ll leave you with this little paean to the free market by Neal Boortz, talking about one of the African-American victims of Hurricane Katrina that earned him one of Media Matters‘ most outrageous statements of the year:
"I dare say she could walk out of that hotel and walk 100 yards in either direction on Fulton Industrial Boulevard here in Atlanta and have a job. What’s that? Well, no, no, no. … Well, you know what? [laughing] Now that you mention it … [i]f that’s the only way she can take care of herself, it sure beats the hell out of sucking off the taxpayers."
If they’d care to explain how the jizz of right wing robber barons trying to preserve their privilege of feeding at the taxpayer trough is oh so much more righteous and anything more than illiterate wingnut welfare then let’s fucking hear it.