Wingnut welfare

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One reason that propaganda often works better on the educated than on the uneducated is that educated people read more, so they receive more propaganda. Another is that they're the commissars. They have jobs as agents of propaganda, and they believe it. By and large, they're part of the privileged elite, and share their interests and perceptions.
Noam Chomsky[1]

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.[2] 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, but rather, to act as "loss leaders" in the promotion of right-wing ideas to the masses. The wingnut circuit isn't functionally different from the old (or current) Soviet propaganda apparatus.

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.


[edit] Notable recipients

  • Jonah Goldberg: One of the most successful recipients of wingnut welfare, and one of the few to have broad visibility.
  • Dinesh D'Souza: While in Dartmouth College, became a staffer for the campus's newly formed conservative newspaper, The Dartmouth Review, which was subsidized by outside donors.
  • Bill Kristol: A textbook case, Kristol manages to find consistent employment in spite of the fact that he's been wrong about virtually every claim he's ever made.
  • Ross Douthat: The man hired to replace Bill Kristol at the New York Times. After Kristol left, the Times felt obliged to hire a conservative to replace him.
  • Megan McArdle: A blogger employed at The Atlantic. Managed to get hired as an economics writer in spite of the fact that she has no expertise in economics. She now writes at Bloomberg, much to the dismay of Barry Ritholtz.
  • Bruce Tinsley: Creator of Mallard Fillmore, the primal scream in comic strip form. His strip is put on Opinion pages as a balance to Doonesbury in some papers.
  • Star Parker: Switched from actual welfare to wingnut welfare after realizing it paid better. A combination of wingnut welfare and tokenism who spends most of her time claiming that the African-American community (except her, naturally) is brainwashed and needs to WAKE UP!!!
  • Josh Duggar: Received a high-ranking job at the Family Research Council, even though he was only in his early twenties, presumably for no reason other than being the eldest son of the Duggar family. This backfired massively when certain facts about young Josh and his contact with police and his younger sisters at an earlier age came to light.[3]
  • Stephen Moore: Chief economist of the Heritage Foundation despite having so many factual mistakes in his writings the Kansas City Star stated it could no longer print his work. His PolitiFact score has never been above "Half-true".[4]
  • Amity Shlaes: Makes quite a bit of money off of conservative activists and websites for being a prominent New Deal denialist despite not having even a formal degree in economics or history and being heavily criticized by those who do.
  • Ben Shapiro: The gravy train began after he published his first book at age 20, Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth, a book with every innuendo against the supposed liberal bias of colleges that conservatives want to hear. Has made a career out of this kind of "political analysis" since then.
  • Milo Yiannopoulos: Founder and editor-in-chief of failed technology blog, The Kernel, Milo was able to parlay his failure (along with his ability to regurgitate anti-feminist 4chan memes and stale MRA arguments) into a managing editor position at's tech vertical. As Milo has repeatedly displayed a fundamental ignorance on the subject of technology and video games, his appointment aligns perfectly with Breitbart's high journalistic standards.

[edit] Notable sources

  • Regnery Publishing: Once the publisher of choice for conservative intellectuals, Regnery Publishing has become a clearing house for every right-wing commentator with a pulse and a dream. Among the authors published by Regnery are Newt Gingrich, Michelle Malkin, Dinesh D'Souza, Steve Milloy and Chuck Norris. Regnery is known for poor production values, selling books to affiliated book clubs to artificially inflate sales, and less-than-friendly contracts.[5]
  • Salem Radio Network: Salem Radio Network is the home of quite a few partisan hacks who manage to keep their jobs despite being horribly wrong on nearly every prediction they bother to make[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] or voicing opinions so atrocious that anyone with standards would have fired most of them long ago,[13][14][15][16] and they rarely receive even a slap on the wrist for their stupidity.
  • National Review Online: The online branch of the National Review (arguably a source of wingnut welfare itself) is home to many hack writers. While Jonah Goldberg is the most notorious, a far more egregious example can be found in Kathryn Jean Lopez, who was made an editor despite the frequent spelling and grammar errors present in her own posts.
  • To the right of National Review and has an enormous amount of columnists because they let nearly any wingnut with a keyboard and an internet connection contribute an article to the site.
  • WorldNetDaily: While definitely low on the totem pole, WND does provide sinecures for many bad writers.
  • RenewAmerica: While about as pathetic as you can get while still remaining at least slightly notable, it does still have many writers who are given a home there despite (or perhaps because of) their incoherent rambling and general insanity.
  • Whether you're a racist former US Representative (Tom Tancredo), a washed-up character actor (Robert Davi[wp]), an actual FBI agent provocateur (Brandon Darby[wp]) or failed tech blogger (see above), if you toe the line on populist conservative orthodoxy and can write poorly reasoned, hyperbolic, Manichean sentences easily understood by the more ignorant swaths of the American Right, then has a place for you.[17][18][19][20] Through, millionaire owner Stephen Bannon[wp] has emerged as one of the more significant Daddy Warbucks of the reactionary right, and his largess appears to know no benefactor too disreputable or too discredited. So long as long as they adhere to his populist, anti-intellectual, far-right worldview, then they can post whatever crosses their minds in his echo chamber.

[edit] Wingnut welfare and the Bush II administration

Most wingnut welfare comes from the private sector. However, during the Bush administration there were numerous high-profile cases of individuals receiving money or public sector positions on the basis of their beliefs. Here are a few of the more notable cases:

[edit] Armstrong Williams

In 2005, the Department of Education signed a contract with PR firm Ketchum to promote No Child Left Behind. As part of their campaign, Ketchum paid $240,000 to commentator Armstrong Williams to promote NCLB on his television and radio programs.[21] In the wake of the scandal, the White House disavowed any knowledge of the payoff, and Williams was released from his contract with Tribune Media Services. While Williams apologized, he also claimed that the only reason his conflict of interest was controversial was because he was black.[22]

[edit] George C. Deutsch

Deutsch, who worked on Bush's reelection campaign, was appointed to NASA's press office. A creationist, Deutsch attempted to have the word "theory" added to every instance of the phrase "Big Bang" on NASA's website. He also allegedly kept the press from talking to Dr. James Hansen, an expert on global warming.[23] He was released from his position in 2006 after blogger Nick Anthis discovered that Deutsch had lied on his résumé and had never actually graduated college.[24] He later claimed that the only reason his appointment was controversial was because he was a Christian.[25] (Noticing a pattern here?)

[edit] Maggie Gallagher

The noted homophobe Maggie Gallagher received a $21,500 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to push Bush's marriage initiative.[26]

[edit] In Iraq

Perhaps the most disastrous examples of wingnut welfare occurred in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. The problems stemmed from James O'Beirne, the White House liaison to the Pentagon.[27] O'Beirne's interviews of prospective CPA staffers included questions about their political beliefs and voting records. As a result, the CPA was largely staffed by loyal Republicans with little or no relevant experience. Among the more egregious appointments was Jay Hallen, a 24 year-old who was placed in charge of reopening the Iraqi stock market despite having no financial experience whatsoever.[28]

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Chomsky, Noam, "Propaganda Systems: Orwell's World and Ours", Propaganda Review no. 1 (Winter 1987-88).
  2. Wingnut Welfare, Firedoglake, 12/26/05
  3. Flashback: Duggars Call LGBT People A Threat To Child Safety; Duggar Resigns From FRC, Right Wing Watch
  4. 2 of his 3 scores is in false territory, too.
  5. Conservative Authors Sue Publisher, The New York Times, 11/07/07
  6. Hugh Hewitt being wrong on virtually every election outcome in both 2008 and 2012
  7. Hugh Hewitt being wrong on the "Friends of Hamas" manufactroversy
  8. Hewitt doubles down on "Friends of Hamas"
  9. Dennis Prager being wrong on the “In God We Trust” motto not being shown on television
  10. Picture of "Under God" motto shown on CBS News
  11. Michael Medved's book on why Obama will lose in 2012
  12. Bill Bennett on Mitt Romney's "momentum".
  13. Michael Medved on the inferior genetics of African slaves
  14. Dennis Prager on why Muslims (Keith Ellison, specifically) shouldn't be allowed to be sworn into office on the Koran
  15. "if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."- Bill Bennett
  16. Mike Gallagher calls for a "Muslims only" line at airports
  17. Tom Tancredo: If You Can't Spell Vote, Should You be Allowed To?
  18. Robert Davi: Trump: The Lion We Need
  19. Brandon Darby: Left Media Just Can't Stop Trashing Sheriff Joe Arpaio for Doing His Job
  20. Milo Yiannopoulos: Donald Trump is America's Number One Victim of Cyber Violence
  21. Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law, USA Today, 1/7/2005
  22. Commentator Caught Up in Controversy Tries to Move On, The New York Times, 02/17/05
  23. [1]
  24. BREAKING NEWS: George Deutsch Did Not Graduate From Texas A & M University, The Scientific Activist, 02/06/06
  25. Censorship Is Alleged at NOAA, The Washington Post, 02/11/06
  26. Writer Backing Bush Plan Had Gotten Federal Contract, Washington Post
  27. James is married to Kate O'Beirne, the Washington editor of the National Review. Just sayin'.
  28. Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq, The Washington Post, 09/17/06
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