Red State’s Friday Massacre
At this point, many of you have perhaps heard that a significant number of writers at RedState have been cashiered. Even CNN Money has reported on it. Before I chimed in, I wanted to confer with one of my colleagues – Susan Wright – the writer generating the most site traffic and among the group that was dismissed, to get a sense of what the prevailing motive was behind the firings.
As Erick Erickson, who himself was a writer at RedState until 2015, said on Friday – it was an political decision by management and less so, a financial decision.
“Salem has worked to re-align itself to be more pro-Trump. I have talked to a Salem host who felt immense pressure to conform to the corporate line on the President and today, talking to a friend, discovered others in the same boat.”
Red State – at least as of today, refuses to acknowledge the real motive behind terminating the group of writers let go on Friday. This from an internal memo written by Townhall GM Jonathan Garthwaite, obtained by CNN Money:
“We had to make some tough changes to RedState today. While these changes are painful, they were necessary once we reached the conclusion that we could no longer support the entire roster of writers and editors.”
That the RedState opinion outlet is under performing financially, is not in dispute, but for most observers, neither is the calculus behind who was pushed off the island and who wasn’t – it all centered around Donald Trump.
Jay Caruso, a former RedState editor, now writing at the Dallas Morning News , told the Atlantic. “When you look at he names across the board, the people that were let go had a clear bias against President Trump.”
Among the lead editors at Red State was Caleb Howe, who along with my friend Susan Wright, were the most read authors on the site. Both are not favorably disposed to the president and both were given the boot yesterday. Another of the dismissed group, Patrick Frey, aka “Patterico” tweeted this yesterday:
The rumors are true. There has been a mass firing at RedState, and those let go (including me) are all Trump critics. His supporters remain.
— Patterico (@Patterico) April 27, 2018
Ben Howe, Caleb’s brother, who was another of the “mass firing” group, told the Daily Beast:
“There was a time that Republican politicians were terrified if [RedState] excoriated them from the front page. But the modern conservative movement seems to have grown tired of accountability. ‘Liberal tears’ is the new operating principle. Unless you’re causing those tears to flow you aren’t being a team player.”
Howe told the Atlantic’s Rosey Gray that, “I think the ones who were shitcanned—and this is just my opinion—could probably be easily defined as the loudest and most vocal Trump critics.”
My friend Susan Wright, who I discussed the firings with on Friday, put the political landscape that has led up to the dismissals, in these terms:
“Basically, what the purge of anti-Trump, conservative voices from RedState means is that there is a rift that exists between partisans and ideological conservatives. Until now, they’ve both existed within the Republican party, living in basic, peaceful communion for many years. It’s as if they were unaware of each other, or the differences. The introduction of Trump into the bloodstream of the GOP inflamed the differences and made them difficult to ignore.”
She went on to tell me that, “in the case of RedState, principled, ideological conservatives were purged. Partisans now have free rein. The two or three anti-Trump voices that were allowed to remain with the site will have to walk on eggshells. There will be no dissent from the party line. That’s bad for everybody involved.”
My interpretation of what is going on at RedState is that Salem Media, owner of a large contingent of right leaning talk radio based stations as well as Townhall and Twitchy, are not concerned about the losses they will experience from letting the roster of writers they have dismissed, go. It probably is the one component every media conglomerate has in the stable, that’s used as a tax write off for the purposes of the corporate tax return. Were that not the case, this event would be an inexplicable case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.
The mass firing at Red State, illustrates that the social fabric of conservatism is being torn asunder by the fear, loathing and desperation of Trumpism.
Supporters of Trump, are of the opinion that every problem that Trump is experiencing could be easily solved if his critics are silenced. That is demonstrably wrong. None of us – not me, not Susan Wright, not CNN, not the Washington Post or the New York Times or National Review, can compete with Donald Trump in destroying his personal brand or his presidency.
Trump is the sole architect of his demise and continues to be on an hourly basis. It does seem odd that so many, including the management at RedState and their parent company, Salem Media can’t comprehend that Trump will take much of what used to masquerade as ‘conservatism’ down with him. When he takes his rightful place on the ignominious trash heap of history, they will accompany him.
That’s on them.