Media Types: Don’t Call Someone Who Works for Republicans a Disaffected Progressive

From today’s WaPo:

In the ever-evolving world of campaign fundraising, some politicians have stumbled on yet another way to bring in buckets of cash. Let’s call it the “money blurt.”

Here’s how it works: An up-and-coming politician blurts out something incendiary, provocative or otherwise controversial. The remark bounces around the blogs and talk shows and becomes a sensation.

And in the midst of it all, the politician’s fundraisers are manning the phones and raking in the donations.

Nothing surprising there. We know politicians’ “spontaneous” outbursts are increasingly staged and intended to gin up attention and cash. But this I found interesting:

Jeff Cosgrove, managing director of the CommonSense Media online advertising network, which has clients in both parties, said a growing number of campaigns book ads in connection with television appearances or other public events.

“These things aren’t necessarily as organic as you would think,” Cosgrove said. “They seem to be often premeditated.” [Emphasis added]

If you follow the link to CommonSense Media and then click on the About page you find this:

Yes, that’s right, CommonSense Media, a firm that does work for Republicans, is led by Jane Hamsher.

In isolation, I don’t care what Jane Hamsher does for money (and it’s not even clear that any revenues from CommonSense Media make it to Hamsher’s pocket). She can do whatever she wants, and I’m not interested in getting in to any battle about purity with her or any of her allies. But it’s time for the media to stop lazily presenting her as a representative figure of liberal Democrats, of the Netroots or of ideologically committed progressives. She’s not. She’s someone who leads a firm that Republicans pay to help them defeat Democrats.

CommonSense Media Ad Network has done work for Democrats in the past, and they may still be doing work for Democrats. They have done work for Harry Reid. In 2011 Hamsher may be telling prospective Obama voters “don’t give yourself away cheaply,” but in 2010 they thought the president was still in to them, because the Democratic National Committee paid for $10,000 worth of advertising through CommonSense Media.

But CommonSense Media also does work for entities working against progressive interests and Democratic candidates. At the same time BP was being accused of “greenwashing” their record after the Gulf oil spill, CommonSense media was doing online advertising for BP.  In Campaigns and Elections magazine’s political pages, a directory of political consultants, Democratic firms have a D after their name, Republicans an R. Commonsense Media has an N (presumably either “nonpartisan” or “neutral”).

There isn’t a good online tool to search for vendors listed in FEC reports, so it’s unclear which Republican(s) are CommonSense Media clients. I suspect they’re not working for rightwing culture warriors. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re working for Scott-Walker-if-he-were-more-low-key-&-didn’t-care-if-you-get-stoned, AKA Greenwald-darling Gary Johnson. But just because we don’t know which Republicans they’re working for, Commonsense Media says they have Republican clients, so why shouldn’t we take them at their word?

If the national political media is going to present Jane Hamsher as a one-time Obama supporter who has now concluded that Obama “just isn’t in to her,” fine.  But it’s horribly irresponsible and inaccurate for the press to file those stories without noting that she at one time did business with the DNC, and apparently now does business with Republicans seeking to defeat Democrats. She’s not just a disaffected progressive, she’s someone who leads a business that takes money from Republicans to defeat Democrats.

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47 Responses to Media Types: Don’t Call Someone Who Works for Republicans a Disaffected Progressive

  1. Bludhurst says:

    There’s no business quite so profitable as being an arms dealer who also has influence on keeping the war going.

  2. ira says:

    Her conduct is unusual for a liberal dedicated to civil rights. Today in a comment she wrote:

    “We’re going to start an “identity hardening” page, for when community members suspect that someone is an anonymous plant. Right now they have their permissions suspended until they provide proof of who they are, but I think we should be collecting them all on one page.”

    Comment #33 here:

    • Fred says:

      [ED NOTE:

      I may not catch every blatantly offense comment on this site, but if I see comments with inexcusably sexist insults like what was in this comment, I’ll continue to delete them.


  3. Pax Lupo says:

    Apparently the slogan on your masthead “Solidarity & Pluralism, Politics & Society (Plus maybe some Rock & Roll, AL & NL…)” doesn’t apply to solidarity with the National Writers Union which has called for a boycott of Huffpo because of the writers strike (or dispute).

  4. Jenny says:


  5. VCubed says:

    I would be upset about this “news”, if it weren’t for the fact that Democrats also take money from Republicans. Our entire problem is legalized bribery aka campaign contributions. If the all-powerful Democrats in the House, Senate and presidency take million$ from bankers, hedge fund managers, oil and gas and nuclear corporations, what’s the diff? For 2012, Obama alone “needs” to raise $1,000,000,000 – that’s one billion dollars. You think he’s going to get that from Democrats only? And one of the biggest Democratic donors, Savin, states his biggest priority is unconditional support for Israel from U.S. Deal w/the real problem: legalized bribery. In reality, we’re barely a step above Mexico when it comes to pay-to-play.

    • bmull says:

      Exactly. Almost every fatcat plays both sides, no matter how radical their personal politics. That’s the real issue here.

  6. Norbrook says:

    It’s been her pattern for a while, and after watching her in action, it’s pretty apparent that she regards the various “purity” groups on the Left as a cash cow and a way to promote herself, rather than a means for political action. A look at her various PAC’s FEC statements showed a lot of money going into her pockets, but not a lot that one could point to as going towards their stated purpose. I don’t see any effective action from her or her minions. As a political movement, they suck. As a way to line her pockets, it’s doing quite nicely.

    • bmull says:

      She’s not and never has been “lining her pockets.” She was doing all right off her producer earnings before she got into the blogging business and as far as I can tell it’s been a money pit. Are FDL Action PAC and Accountability Now PAC funds spent with an eye toward synergies with FDL? Wouldn’t surprise me. Has any donor ever complained about it? Not to my knowledge.

      • Norbrook says:

        Hmm… let me see. If I look at the FEC filings (which I have), I see a lot of “consulting fees,” the purchasing of mailing lists from FDL, hosting fees paid to FDL, and a lot of other things which end up back in Jane’s pocket or subsidizing her blog. Almost nothing going to the stated purpose of the PAC’s or to candidates identified by them. So, whether Jane made money from being a producer (and you might want to take a look at why she’s not that welcome in Hollywood), and that donors aren’t complaining, is irrelevant. What is relevant is that her PAC’s seem to spend a lot of money for her and her friends, but not on “political action.”

  7. bmull says:

    I asked Jane about her advertising in the past and she said it was too hard to pick and choose which advertising to approve. Which is kind of a bummer since CSM was supposed to be a progressive advertising network, but at the end of the day it’s about paying the bills. I think Jane’s priority at this time is to find a sustainable way fund FDL and other progressive sites. It’s a worthy undertaking and I don’t think people should be criticizing her for that.

    • txvoodoo says:

      Really? You think it’s ok to take money in order to help defeat Democrats and/or progressives/liberals in order to run a blog?

    • cinesimon says:

      You’d be correct, if she weren’t presenting herself as being in it for the cause.
      You’re saying she’s in it for her business. That’s fine.
      I agree. That’s the point.
      And Hamsher does not present herself that way.

    • Elizabeth Sholes says:

      Her commentary against the president is so mindless and usually filled with errors that I find it impossible to take her seriously as a “critic” as opposed to a “GOP shill”. The money trail tells a great deal about her values, and they are all about her, not about real concern for accuracy, substantive critique, or reliable facts. This article is a real eye-opener and shows me that she, like Arianna Huffington, really has no values at all.

  8. Pingback: Balloon Juice » Anyone Who Every Played a Part

  9. This proves that Obama’s done a really good job as President.

    • Dana Houle says:

      Funny you mention it, because I thought it proved that Francis Bacon wrote everything attributed to Shakespeare, that you’re supposed to starve a fever and feed a cold, and that the clause about a well-regulated militia is too-often ignored when interpreting the Second Amendment. But if you with the apt moniker say it proves something about a subject I didn’t address and isn’t relevant to the conclusions of the post, who am I to argue?

      • Your point is that you aren’t relentlessly cheerleading for Obama in this post, but merely attacking a critic?

        O.K. Dana, I’ll grant that point. But I won’t concede that things we all justly criticized G.W. Bush for are now A.O.K. when Obama does them.

  10. Pingback: Balloon Juice » Jane Hamsher’s “Afro-American” Reeducation Program Rolls Through Washington, D.C. (and Other Ratfucking Tales)

  11. Miracle Max says:

    This post is rubbish. — The blogger formerly known as MaxSpeak

  12. Bobo says:

    I concur. This post is rubbish.

    Even if she did make money off of it, so what. She’s not hiding anythying. It’s a company for profit selling a service. Whether it’s orange juice or balloon juice or political ads, selling stuff to political opponents and allies alike is what people do to put food on the table. I do it every day. Does that mean I am a tratior too?

    • Dana Houle says:

      Did I say she was hiding anything? Is “hiding anything” relevant to my point? Is everything OK as long as long as you don’t hide it?

      But hey, thanks for offering up that excuse. It’s not at ALL ironic that you’d offer up an excuse for Jane that if offered to Jane for someone with whom she disagreed would probably get you called a proud resident of the veal pen.

      • Bobo says:

        Well, if that is true, it could not be any worse than your response.

        On the merits, you are wrong. What that company does is only one step removed from what every blogger who accepts advertising does. Atrios, daily kos, etc. have run ads from conservative orgs. and corporations out to destroy progressives politically. They are not traitors or two-timers for doing so.

    • SamR says:

      “She’s not hiding anything.” Hamsher’s FDL description:

      Jane Hamsher is the founder and publisher of, a leading progressive blog. Her work has also appeared on The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, AlterNet, The Nation, and The American Prospect. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Al Jazeera, PBS, and the BBC. She is the author of the best-selling book Killer Instinct, and she has produced such films “Natural Born Killers” and “Permanent Midnight.”

      So Natural Born Killers is relevant enough to make it into the bio on her political blog, but CSM isn’t?

      As for making money by selling stuff to your political opponents, its one thing if you’re selling, its one thing if you’re selling consumer goods, its another if you’re selling political advice about how to beat the side you’re supposedly aligned to. Doesn’t make you a traitor, more a mercenary or hired gun.

    • Elizabeth Sholes says:


  13. Bobo says:

    Sam, i haven’t seen anything saying she’s selling political advice on how to beat the mighty left. (Indeed, who would buy it? )

    The company sells advertising space, no? It’s like having a bilboard company.

    And their expertise is getting ads to politically interested people of all polotical stripes, with the ability to closely target the audience.

    Run for your life! Jane Hampshire is Godzilla!

    There is nothing duplictious about this in my view. It makes perfect sense to me. And I am glad she is developing sources of income (if she is) that allow her to carry on her other work.

    Go Jane!


    p.s. You better go after Atrios. I saw a BP ad on his site.

    • Dana Houle says:

      I’m sorry you didn’t see anything that says she’s selling political advice. That means you didn’t bother to click on the link to Campaigns and Elections to see that they don’t present themselves as a firm that possesses a billboard, but as media consultants who can provide “high-end targeting.”

      The “I didn’t see anything” defense, issued while your eyes are closed, isn’t very compelling. But it’s probably great for keeping you from feeling any cognitive dissonance.

      • Bobo says:

        I did click through to the site being criticized and spent some time looking around.

        All they do is sell thespace. They do not do political strategy or the ads. They just book the space. And yes, they can target it for you. They know the market well.

        If I am a broker of billboards, I can do the same thing. What’s your target audience? Tell me. I will give you the perfect billboards to reach them. That’s about what they do.

        You seem to have a need to run me down and insult me, just like you are running Jane down. That tells me a lot.

  14. watou says:

    The only way I ever end up on this site is to read yet another poorly executed hit piece against Jane Hamsher or FDL. The hit pieces are hilariously transparent, poorly executed, and ultimately fail to reveal anything interesting. The only thing interesting about it is the frothing viciousness coming from the author. Atrios gave Dana a concise smackdown this time, and well deserved. It’s almost as if people with dubious motives are hellbent on inventing dubious motives in their enemies. Embarrassing to witness, actually.

    • Dana Houle says:

      “…yet another poorly executed hit piece against Jane Hamsher or FDL…”

      Only time I’ve ever written about Jane Hamsher, and I don’t know what you think Atrios said about me, because I didn’t mention anything about him or his site, and he hasn’t said anything about or linked to me. but hey, why let facts get in the way of your beliefs?

  15. Pingback: Obama enforcers go after Jane Hamsher « D2 route

  16. Frank says:

    It’s amazing. I’ve come here, Dana, since you started the site, because I’ve always enjoyed your writing. You post a couple times a week. There’s usually not more than a couple comments.

    And the minute you write about Blackface Jane, suddenly, the comments explode.

    Are they all from Blackface under different names, or does she have a bunch of minions sniffing around for anyone who takes the name of their saint in vain? That’s what I want to know.

    Of course, you know I agree with everything you wrote. Except for that you were probably too nice 🙂

    • Norbrook says:

      Are they all from Blackface under different names, or does she have a bunch of minions sniffing around for anyone who takes the name of their saint in vain? That’s what I want to know.

      It’s the minions. Between her and GG, it’s amazing at how they rush to “defend” they leader’s “honor,” whenever something critical (and based on facts) comes out.

  17. Bobo says:

    Wow, the hate fest is still going on.

    I have seen this sort of thing play out before. Group demonization and vilification of one individual. Everything he or she does is twisted into proof of what an evil and wicked person she is.

    Very creepy.

    Dana, you must be proud! You have stirred the emotions and prejudices of the unwashed…

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