Erick Erickson is not for sale, says Erick Erickson. You will have to take his word for it, because for some reason it regularly looks a lot like he is for sale. The most recent example: this mass email, obtained by MediaMatters, sent to the entire email list of Erickson’s RedState blog, promoting a financial newsletter by Mark Skousen, an Austrian economist whose uncle was the legendary right-wing pseudo-historian W. Cleon Skousen.
Also most of the email pitch was plagiarized from a four-year-old Ann Coulter email pitch for the same financial newsletter.
Erickson works for Eagle Publishing, a company founded and run by longtime movement conservative panjandrums with a lot of important connections and absolutely no compunction about milking the conservative rabble for everything they can get. In 2011, Eagle promised to sell Erickson’s endorsements to conservative organizations, just as movement figures like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are paid to talk up certain conservative groups on their shows. Erickson denied that his endorsement was for sale. Later that year, he withdrew support from a candidate he’d previously backed because his bosses were friends with George Allen, the more establishment (and much, much more racist) candidate. The other day BuzzFeed presented evidence that a contributor to Erickson’s RedState praised the country of Ukraine for $500. And now Erickson’s signature ends up at the bottom of this pitch for Mark Skousen’s “Forecasts & Strategies” email.
If you sign up for automatic renewal, you can subscribe to “Forecasts & Strategies” for the discounted rate of $99 a year.
But Erickson, still, is not for sale, according to Erickson.
If, as Erickson claims, he did not get paid for this endorsement (or, rather, if he wasn’t paid to have his name affixed to this boilerplate get-rich-quick scam email), then his claim to moral purity is that he sold out his readers for free. And he also plagiarized! It’s also not clear why the email included a disclaimer labeling it as an advertisement, and not a “favor for a friend.” Generally, renting the RedState list, in order to send out an ad like this, costs $6,250. As others have pointed out, Erickson likely gets a cut for everyone who subscribes to Skousen’s newsletter through the affiliate link included in the pitch.
As I have mentioned once or twice or maybe multiple times, the conservative movement is an elaborate moneymaking venture. For professional movement conservatives, their audiences and followers are easy marks.
If some modern-day David Brock wanted to defect from the conservative movement and write a tell-all focused solely on the financial chicanery of the entire right-wing nonprofit/think tank/publishing sphere, I would read the absolute heck out of it. It’s huge business, targeting both millionaires and pensioners for fleecing, and these days it often seems like maintaining this ecosystem of free money for professional ideologues is the highest priority of the movement. The self-perpetuating fundraising machine’s greatest accomplishment is its own existence, and there are probably a thousand otherwise useless people who reside in Erickson’s 53 percent thanks entirely to it.