Human Events made headlines this week when its sales staff tried to sell a RedState political endorsement. They've done far worse.
In the conservative movement, there is a tension between staying loyal to the rank and file and exploiting the fact that there's a lot of money to be made selling them stuff. Some institutions pull it off, as when National Review readers pay to go on a luxury cruise so that they can meet writers and editors. Other times, a guy like Glenn Beck manipulates his audience into buying marked up gold.
An item Ben Smith published Tuesday broke the latest news on this beat:
The endorsement of Erick Erickson, the founder of the conservative blog RedState and a CNN contributor is for sale as part of an advertising package, according to an email circulated by an account executive for The Human Events Group-Eagle Publishing, which recently purchased the site.
"Erick Erickson's reputation along with his rising profile, combine to make RedState the most influential conservative blog on Capitol Hill and across America," writes the account executive, Chris McIntyre, in a form email forwarded to POLITICO by two surprised conservatives. "Why not put Erick's influence to work for your organization?"
Erickson quickly responded, acknowledging that the sales pitch in question was sent out, but assuring his readers, "no, my endorsements are not for sale." I believe him, because for several years now I've watched in horror as the Human Events Group advertising staff revealed its moral compass. To be clear, I don't think a television network or a publishing company or a billboard owner implicitly endorses every business to whom it sells advertising. But I do take exception when a company is especially complicit in ads that take obvious advantage of vulnerable people who trust them.