Late Night Cheap Speculation Open Thread: Who *Does* Fund The Federalist?

Admitted plagiarist and general internet nuisance Ben Domenech is the founder, editor, and biggest booster of a left-twitter punching bag known as The Federalist. Since I am not the only person who thinks of The Federalist as a kind of wingnut-wurlitzer sink trap, watching its public face throw a nutty on twitter is always mildly entertaining…

… The path of conservative media has largely mirrored the challenges of digital and print news operations broadly over the last decade, with wild experimentation in form and content, waves of consolidation, and a series of high-profile collapses…

And others have adapted to [Trump’s] rise and his style. The Daily Caller went populist, amplifying Trump’s anti-immigrant politics. Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire remained skeptical of the president but drew a huge following “owning” his liberal enemies. The Federalist followed a version of this second path.

The site launched in 2013. In a post introducing the outlet, publisher Ben Domenech compared its mission to that of the original Time magazine, which “aimed to cover and distill the news of politics, economics, world affairs, and culture for the nation’s rising middle class.” The site published a wide-ranging group of writers on a variety of political and cultural topics. Over the years, it has adapted to the Trump moment by criticizing perceived excesses of his detractors in the media and relentlessly questioning the Russia investigation.

Unlike some peers and more like Breitbart, which only revealed its ownership structure under pressure from a committee from which it was seeking congressional press credentials, the Federalist has been resolutely opaque about its finances. The site is owned by a private company and doesn’t have to disclose its ownership or funding structure; its parent company, FDRLST Media, was incorporated as a limited liability company in Delaware in 2016. And the omertà on the topic has prompted a considerable amount of speculation in the political media world, with the phrase “Who funds the Federalist?” becoming a recurring meme, often tweeted at the site’s top brass. The Federalist has winked at the controversy, selling at one point an “I Fund the Federalist” T-shirt.

Despite the air of mystery, publicly available information does shed some light on some of the Federalist’s financials, though it’s not necessarily the full picture — or anything that explains why the secret has been so closely guarded…

I personally assume Ben’s mother-in-law Cindy McCain is using her personal $200 million fortune to keep Domenech busy and out of her basement, because hell, given the option, wouldn’t you?








That’s One Way To Spend Your Sunday

I went to the park to do some reading today. On the way there, I passed by some folks having a normal and good one, throwing us a MAGA rally across the street from Trump Tower. House left we have a sign that calls for the imprisonment of Hillary Clinton. You can’t see it, but the next MAGA hat over was wearing a shirt that said, “Hillary Lost, Ha Ha Ha.” They seemed to think mentioning the loser of the 2016 election was better than mentioning the winner.

You might notice, on the far right, the flags of Israel and South Korea. They were also chanting “We love Israel!” as I walked past. In other words, it was as coherent as any other right-wing rally I’ve ever seen. Sad!

I’m kind of surprised they used the correct Korean flag. At any rate, I soon moved on to better views.

How are the dregs of the weekend treating you? I did my writing this morning, so now I’m playing Kerbal Space Program. I bought the new expansion and started a new career mode game; I’m trying to make it to (and, the tricky part, from) the Mün.








Open Thread: Trump’s (Anti-) “Social Media (Not-) Summit”

For edutainment purposes / posterity only, since this is one of those social-media sites…

Actually, the invitation list seems to have been curated (as the Youngs say) with a certain level of craft: The real bottomfeeders and genuine crazies didn’t get invited, just those one-foot-in-each-camp opportunists who are too careless for Fox Media and too careful to get banned by the big platforms.

The White House hasn’t released a public list of attendees for the Thursday afternoon event, but a number of pro-Trump personalities have posted invitations on Twitter. They include Ali Alexander, a right-wing operative pushing a smear that Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) isn’t really “an American Black,” a pro-Trump “memesmith” who goes by the screenname “@CarpeDonktum,” and blogger Jim Hoft, whose Gateway Pundit blog frequently promotes hoaxes.

The invitee list also includes more traditional White House visitors, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and representatives from campus conservative group Turning Point USA and conservative YouTube channel PragerU. In an Instagram post, Turning Point executive Benny Johnson promised to use the conference to give Trump “dank meme ideas.”…

Notably, the group so far doesn’t appear to include anyone who has actually been banned from major social platforms, even though those bans have played a significant role in driving accusations on the right that the social giants are biased. Pro-Trump figures like anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer, InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Proud Boys men’s group founder Gavin McInnes, for example, don’t appear to have been invited…

Of course, count on Infowars to show up anyway (and not get chased off):

L-R: Ali ‘Kamala’s Not Really Black’ Alexander, James ‘Breitbart’s Bastard Son’ O’Keefe III, TP-USA’s Charlie ‘Diaper Boy’ Kirk, and Gateway Pundit Jim ‘Dumbest Man on the Internet’ Hoft

And one more who couldn’t bear to stay away…


 
Notes from an actual journalist with the ‘nut graf‘ of the proceedings:


Read more



Open Thread: Catering to ‘Fox Nation’ Snowflakes’ Sensibilities…


 
But wait, there’s more!… Almost forgot I’d been saving this gem for a quiet patch. From Vanity Fair, “Hannityflix for Snowflakes: Fox Nation, the Murdoch’s New Streaming Service”:

The animating spirit of Fox Nation, the Trump-friendly network’s new video-streaming offering, is inadvertently revealed in the fifth episode Brian Kilmeade’s travelogue show, What Made America Great. Dressed in a sharp blue-checked shirt, the Fox & Friends host strolls through Andrew Jackson’s former plantation, absorbing the majesty of America’s seventh president. “Walking around, you get the sense that Andrew Jackson just left,” he marvels, admiring the poplar-wood columns and military portraits lining the Hermitage.

Like many programs on the so-called “Netflix for conservatives,” the pastoral scene—Kilmeade in gingham, colonnades, portraiture—is unnervingly familiar. In fact, much of the footage from What Made America Great is recycled from Andrew Jackson: Hero Under Fire, overlaid with new narration, graphics, and calming piano music. The same promotional image and footage appears again in America: Great from the Start, Kilmeade’s live lecture series wherein he summarizes historical events covered in his nonfiction books (in this case, 2017’s Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans).

Recycled content appears to be part of the Fox Nation business model. If Fox News exists to serve red meat, Fox Nation is its mechanically separated byproduct—extra bits scraped off the carcasses of more profitable franchises, puréed, and shaped into spongy content nuggets. It is unapologetically a platform of B-sides. The impetus behind Fox Nation’s launch is fairly obvious; the brand appears to be a naturally recurring retirement community trying to keep apace in a dynamic media ecosystem. The network’s average viewer is 64 years old, 21st Century Fox has sold the majority of its entertainment assets to Disney, and the next generation of viewers is cutting the cord. (“It’s scary, right?” Kilmeade told The New York Times, recalling a conversation with his son: “He’s like, ‘Dad, nobody’s watching cable anymore.’”) For $5.99 a month, the subscription platform promises to deliver extra-special content from its deep bench of talent, and to provide an exclusive entre into their world. The sign-up-screen video shows Kilmeade and Co. at a party, popping the corks off champagne bottles and playing pool. Below, a tantalizing promise: “More of the content you love from the people you trust.”…

Fox Nation, for when chewing your own oatmeal is too much of a mental chore…








Be A Masshole!

This is without doubt my favorite ad of the cycle.

Backstory:  In 2016, Massachusetts approved a law that adds gender identity to the list of reasons people can’t be discriminated against in public spaces.

This year, bigots opponents managed to place a question on the ballot that would repeal the law. Somewhat confusingly, the question is worded so that it takes a “yes” vote to retain the law — a quirk of drafting (perhaps deliberate) that casts some doubt on the polling that shows a two to one edge here opposed to discriminating against trans people.  I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re all good, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the following is a perfect little slice of campaign art:

Open thread, y’all.