Tea Party news site: mission or marketing scam?

A new conservative news site may give you cause for concern, whatever your political persuasion. As Politico reports, the Tea Party News Network announced its formal launch today as the only site “that caters directly to Tea Party conservatives.”

The site, which appears to have been online for awhile, offers little more than links to anti-Obama screeds from right-wing standard-bearers like Red State and Michelle Malkin. There is also a smattering of original content from “volunteers.”

While liberals will cringe at headlines like “Would it surprise you to know that Barack Obama used to deal?”, Tea Party types may not be thrilled by the site either. For them, the issue will not be the site’s content but rather its editor, Todd Cefaratti.

Cefaratti, you see, appears to be more hustler than true believer. According to news items, he used a Tea Party-branded website before the 2010 midterms to rake in $469,000 in donations, but did not spend any of it on conservative candidates or causes. Instead, half the funds went to marketing and the other half went to non-political activity.

Worse, Cefaratti works in direct marketing. Various Tea Party discussion blogs (see here, here and here) have accused him of data mining the faithful in order to sell mailing lists to third-party companies. This may explain why the new Tea Party News Network so prominently asks readers to supply not just an email address, but their names and zip codes too:

When conservatives have called him out on these activities, Cefaratti has responded with a stock answer that the accusations are a plot by liberal news media.

The more likely explanation is that Cefaratti is a deeply cynical man who is not just publishing inflammatory headlines but treating his readers as dupes for his marketing machine.

(Image by  spirit of america via Shutterstock)