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Wingnut welfare

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Good to know my nation’s foreign policy was in the hands of a Palpatine fanboy. THOSE REBELS WERE JUST LOOKING FOR A HANDOUT!...I honestly can’t believe I live in a world where fartsniffers like Kristol and Tom Friedman still manage to flourish. Why haven’t these men been dropped down a manhole? Who keeps giving them money? I have no faith in anything.
—Drew Magary[1]

Wingnut welfare refers to job offers or deals 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]

Are you surrounded by yes-men and lackeys and feel under political threat? No need to toss reporters into jail for daring to criticize Dear Leader — that's what public relations is for! You see, in "Real Democracies™", you just slander real journalists and incentivise shills.

Wingnut welfare typically flows from conservative publishing houses, opinion journals, and websites.[note 1] Such operations are heavily subsidized by wealthy benefactors such as the Koch brothers, William Regnery Jr., and Richard Mellon Scaife, as well as organizations such as the John M. Olin Foundation. However, not all such publications are considered wingnut welfare. The term is limited to deals that 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 that different from the old (or current) Soviet propaganda apparatus.

Notable recipients[edit]

Keith Ablow
He's got political aspirations. Those almost always include eagerness to put somebody else's "boots on the ground."
Michael "Decius" Anton
So, basically the conservative utopia is a less-noisy bar.[3] This guy once had a job on the National Security Council.
Glenn Beck
The harm this man did with a camera and chalkboard is amazing. He is a nefarious Stephen Colbert.
Andrew Breitbart
Helped bring down that evil organization known as ACORN, granted he continuously cited a highly-edited, out-of-context and fabricated "sting video" that had little-to-no-factual basis at all. Of course, the use of doctored footage didn't mean shit to him or Fox as long as they were able to further their agenda.
Ben Carson
Carson had pretty amazing fundraising numbers for a guy that walks around with his eyes closed. There's been speculation that Carson's whole Presidential campaign was a scam, with millions of dollars in donations being spent and recycled by advertising, bulk mailing, and other PR companies.[4] If there was ever a case of someone using the race to the White House for personal profit (or, like so many failed Republican candidates, becoming a paid commentator for Fox News), this is it. When asked about whether he'd settle for a VP slot, he said "I'm not looking for a job."[5] Yeah, except for the job of becoming the President of the Fucking United States.
Ann Coulter
She is an agitator. She doesn't appeal to many, but she offends millions. She knows that pissing off the left is a great way to keep herself in the spotlight. She doesn't have to appeal to anyone on the right, she can maintain her celebrity by manipulating the left.
James Damore
Went from novice software engineer to "alt-right" celebrity overnight, ironically with a memo asserting workplace diversity gave undeserved rewards to minorities.
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.
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.
Josh Duggar
A truly odious example. 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, along with a paid account for the adultery facilitating website,[6][7][8][9][10] Duggar was convicted of the receipt and possession of child pornography and sentenced to over 12 years in prison.[11]
Rudy Giuliani
Giuliani was respected before he went crazy and sunk into right-wing news circuit hell.
Jonah Goldberg
One of the most commonly-printed conservative columnists, and a lifelong (literally from the womb) recipient of wingnut welfare. Pretty much any one of his columns can be summed up as "DAE LIBERALS ARE SO SMUG".
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.
Art Laffer
Laffer is still making the rounds? (Explains the depth of economic illiteracy in government if people are listening to him.) It was clear even as Reagan was trying it that Laffer's results weren't as forecast. Also, his own proof (which doesn't actually prove anything) shows that government spending is sometimes a good thing.
This is the guy who, in 2007, when asked if a recession is coming, said "the US economy has never been in better shape!"[12] Economics has to be the only field where you can be dead wrong and still have a lucrative career.
Rush Limbaugh
After years of struggling as a sportscaster, he finally found his bread and butter. Not a surprise that Rushbo's syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, is the single largest "independent contractor" of the Heritage Foundation, receiving $2,236,555 from the think tank in 2013.
Megan McArdle
A former blogger, now an opinion columnist at the Washington Post. Managed to get hired as an economics writer in spite of the fact that she has no expertise in economics. Before 2013 at The Atlantic. From 2013 to 2018, she used to write at Bloomberg, much to the dismay of Barry Ritholtz. Now she writes at the Washington Post, to the dismay of everyone.
Christopher Monckton
He refused to cough up the name of the financier who pays him to "investigate" climate science. However, DeSmog UK has discovered that mystery man's identity: Edgar Miller, a right-wing Texan who made his fortune in shale gas.[13]
Stephen Moore
Chief economist "Distinguished Visiting Fellow" 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. (Unsurprising, since Moore isn't actually an economist.) His PolitiFact score has never been above "Half-true".[14]
Charles Murray
The thinking man's white supremacist. NYT published an article by the pepes who invited this guy to their college, and they're just bewildered why anybody would object to this cross-burning caliper-clutching race scientist speaking there.
Grover Norquist
According to the immodestly-titled "Norquist pledge", any revenue gained from the closing of tax loopholes must go toward lowering tax rates, and thus be revenue neutral (as Romney insisted with his "tax reform" proposal). We've been hearing this Abramoff/Nixon/Reagan/Bush crony cajole and bully and whine for decades, but nobody has the spine to tell Norquist to fuck off. He's just another corrosive influence on politics for personal gain.
James O'Keefe
Until he was shit-canned for financial malfeasance in 2023, he received a salary of $230,000 a year, much of it from the Koch brothers, for using deceptive tactics to stage "sting operations" and show doctored videos to the right-wing echo chamber. Though most of these operations have failed on every conceivable level, O'Keefe has kept his high-paying position for seven years.[15]
Camille Paglia
Take archaic assertions about women (which sound an awful lot like redpill arguments), dress them up with $2 words, declare it a breakthrough in gender politics. Her latest, It's A Man's World, And It Always Will Be earned her a new generation of fans. (People think it's interesting that she would criticize feminism, seeing that she is a "female intellectual".)
Although she calls herself a feminist, she seems more misanthropic than anything. However, unlike, say, Phyllis Schlafly, Paglia is, fundamentally, all about attention-seeking and saying radical contrarian things to seem smart. She occasionally writes incoherent rants for Salon (strange, considering it's something of a moonbat welfare provider) covering topics like: lesbian bed death, comparing Sarah Palin's word vomit to listening to some pretty excellent jazz, how global warming is not real, etc. etc.
Sarah Palin
Someone loves her enough to subsidize her family tooling around in a Hummer limousine.[16] But wait, it gets dumber. Remember when Bristol Palin, daughter of national oddity Governor Palin, was on Dancing with the Stars? When the audience was asked to call in and vote, she won in a landslide — and it was determined that Republicans, hoping to raise her Q rating so it might rub off on her mother in that election, brigaded the show: They used their campaign's robo-call system to flood the lines with votes for Bristol and swarmed the website.[17][18]
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!!!
Ron Paul
Ron would often add earmarks to bills that were guaranteed to pass, siphoning money to his state, and then he would vote against those bills, just to show ideological purity. Which actually makes him an even worse hypocrite than the majority of congress!
This is the same "maverick" who holds moneybombs every other weekend — including his own birthday and Labor Day (because "Ron Paul" is the first name we associate with everything Labor Day is about). His son's presidential money bombs were really sad — especially toward the end, where he would continuously struggle to raise a paltry $50k over the course of a week.
Jordan Peterson
There is a reason why it's advised to stay away from people in the "self-help" section.
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.
Amity Shlaes
A prominent New Deal denialist. Makes quite a bit of coin, despite not having a formal degree in economics or history (and being heavily criticized by those who do).
Christina Hoff Sommers
An incredibly sloppy, lazy pundit who embarrassed herself with Gamergate. Thinks rape is a social construct.
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.
Blaire White
A trans woman who tells transphobic people what they want to hear. Considered more important than actual research because she makes bigots feel comfortable about their beliefs, whereas research doesn't.
Milo Yiannopoulos
An exposed Neo-Nazi and compulsive liar who laundered white nationalist ideas into an "alt-right manifesto" that he co-authored (and still has the nerve to say he's not a member of the alt-right).[19] Whines about the mistreatment of gays in Iran, then calls them "tranny faggots" in the same breath. (Most Americans are familiar with him as the guy who gave them "permission" to use the word "faggot.")
Before that, he ran The Kernel, a failed technology blog, which tried to capitalize on Gamergate. Most of YouTube's leading lights launched their careers on it and, as we all know, the alt-right is heavily rooted in it. Milo, Sargon, and Cernovich existed before, but Gamergate is arguably what made them relevant to a US presidential election. Milo leveraged it into a managing editor position at Simon & Schuster paid him 250K to regurgitate stale 4chan memes and MRA arguments (The solution to harassment online? Stop going on the internet, ladies!)
Over the years of getting banned from platforms, payment methods suspended,[20][21] and dropped by financiers, he's gone from being a rich trust fund kid to 2 million in debt.[22] Will he finally learn empathy when he's forced into the shoes of the people he hates? Probably not.

Notable sources[edit]

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.[23]
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[24][25][26][27][28][29][30] or voicing opinions so atrocious that anyone with standards would have fired most of them long ago,[31][32][33][34] 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 and recipient of wingnut welfare itself — it has never been self-supporting) 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.
While definitely low on the totem pole, WND does provide sinecures for many bad writers.
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 DaviWikipedia), an actual FBI agent provocateur (Brandon DarbyWikipedia), or a 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.[35][36][37][38] Through, millionaire owner Stephen BannonWikipedia has emerged as one of the more significant Daddy Warbucks of the reactionary right, and his largess appears to know no beneficiary too disreputable or too discredited. So long as they adhere to his populist, anti-intellectual, far-right worldview, then they can post whatever crosses their minds in his echo chamber.

George W. Bush administration[edit]

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:

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.[39] 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.[40]
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.[41] 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.[42] He later claimed that the only reason his appointment was controversial was because he was a Christian.[43] (Noticing a pattern here?)
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.[44]
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.[note 2] 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.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. The liberal/socialist equivalent could be referred to as "moonbat welfare", but that isn't as catchy.
  2. James O'Beirne is married to Kate O'Beirne, the Washington editor of the National Review. Just sayin'.


  1. Drew Magary, Deadspin
  2. Wingnut Welfare, Firedoglake, 12/26/05
  3. Gray, Rosie, "The Populist Nationalist on Trump's National Security Council", Atlantic (3/24/17 at 5:00AM).
  4. Graham, David A., "Does Ben Carson Suspect His Campaign Was a Scam?", The Atlantic 2.24.16.
  5. Transcript: CNN Republican Presidential Town Hall, Greenville, SC.
  6. Flashback: Duggars Call LGBT People A Threat To Child Safety; Duggar Resigns From FRC, Right Wing Watch
  7. Hemant Mehta, Josh Duggar Faces 40 Years in Jail for Receiving and Possessing Child Porn. Archived from, 30 April 2021.
  8. Adam Klasfeld, Josh Duggar Tries to Dismiss Child Porn Charges on Grounds That Trump’s Homeland Security Leaders Were Unlawfully Appointed. Law and Crime, 20 August 2021.
  9. Adam Klasfeld, Feds Say They Found a Toddler Rape Video on Josh Duggar’s Computer. Here’s the ‘Horrendous’ Story of the ‘World’s Worst Pedophile’ Who Made It. Law and Crime, 22 June 2021.
  10. Reality TV’s Josh Duggar convicted of child porn possession. Associated Press, 9 December 2021.
  11. Josh Duggar, a former reality TV star, gets 12 years in a child pornography case. NPR via the Associated Press, 26 May 2022.
  12. Serchuk, Dave, "Great Moments In Punditry: Art Laffer Edition", Forbes (12/28/2011 @ 9:49AM).
  13. Montague, Brendan, "Lawson's Climate Denial Donor Boasts of Shale Gas Investment", DeSmog UK (9/30/14 -at 1:15 am).
  14. 2 of his 3 scores is in false territory, too.
  15. Meet the people bankrolling James O’Keefe’s group
  16. Itkowitz, Corey, "Bristol Palin Throws a Mean Right Hook", WaPo 9.11.14.
  17. Morrissey, Tracie Egan, "How Palin Conservatives Are Cheating The DWTS Voting System", Jezebel (11/16/10 1:21pm).
  18. Guthrie, Marisa, "Why Bristol Palin Is Still on 'Dancing With the Stars'", The Hollywood Reporter (11/11/10 at 5:59 AM PST).
  19. Bernstein, Joseph (2017). Here's How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream
  23. Conservative Authors Sue Publisher, The New York Times, 11/07/07
  24. Hugh Hewitt being wrong on virtually every election outcome in both 2008 and 2012
  25. Hugh Hewitt being wrong on the "Friends of Hamas" manufactroversy
  26. Hewitt doubles down on "Friends of Hamas"
  27. Dennis Prager being wrong on the “In God We Trust” motto not being shown on television
  28. Picture of "Under God" motto shown on CBS News
  29. Michael Medved's book on why Obama will lose in 2012
  30. Bill Bennett on Mitt Romney's "momentum".
  31. Michael Medved on the inferior genetics of African slaves
  32. Dennis Prager on why Muslims (Keith Ellison, specifically) shouldn't be allowed to be sworn into office on the Koran
  33. "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
  34. Mike Gallagher calls for a "Muslims only" line at airports
  35. Tom Tancredo: If You Can't Spell Vote, Should You be Allowed To?
  36. Robert Davi: Trump: The Lion We Need
  37. Brandon Darby: Left Media Just Can't Stop Trashing Sheriff Joe Arpaio for Doing His Job
  38. Milo Yiannopoulos: Donald Trump is America's Number One Victim of Cyber Violence
  39. Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law, USA Today, 1/7/2005
  40. Commentator Caught Up in Controversy Tries to Move On, The New York Times, 02/17/05
  41. George C. Deutsch III, Sourcewatch.
  42. BREAKING NEWS: George Deutsch Did Not Graduate From Texas A & M University, The Scientific Activist, 02/06/06
  43. Censorship Is Alleged at NOAA, The Washington Post, 02/11/06
  44. Writer Backing Bush Plan Had Gotten Federal Contract, Washington Post
  45. Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq, The Washington Post, 09/17/06