Why Big Government Could Make Andrew Breitbart the Right’s Huffington

BreitbartCropAndrew Breitbart’s new political blog, Big Government, launched with a splash today, thanks to an investigative piece on ACORN. Could Breitbart, who worked as a researcher for Arianna Huffington back in the day, be following in her footsteps as an opinion blog rainmaker with a powerful one-stop shop?

Big Government got off to a big start today. Its main story was an undercover video taken by filmmaker James O’Keefe of what purported to be an ACORN worker advising a fake ‘pimp’ and his ‘prostitute’ how to avoid taxes and prosecution. ACORN, for its part, has condemned the video as “gotcha journalism” and demanded to see the full tape for proof that it wasn’t misleadingly edited. As of 1:50 pm, there have been 3 posts about ACORN, one introductory post, and one post about health care — a little slow, but the ACORN bit is probably enough to give the site a good first day.

And boy, does Breitbart know how to promote: he went on Fox News this morning to discuss his “exclusive” (and happened to mention his website a decent handful of times during the interview), and he got his video placed as the top story on Foxnews.com, ahead of arguably bigger stories like Joe Wilson’s outburst during Obama’s healthcare speech last night.

Having just launched, the site is in an embryonic RSS stage, but the similarity of its layout to Big Hollywood, another Breitbart site which has drawn hundreds of contributors into the relatively small niche of entertainment coverage with a conservative slant, bespeaks its ambition to become a leading political group blog.

Breitbart has proven himself much more web-savvy than his sensei/former boss Matt Drudge, whose Web 0.5 strategy of plastering a bunch of links on a white page still draws respectable traffic (1.1 million visitors a day, according to the New York Observer), and drives it to Breitbart’s sites. Breitbart’s expanding family of sites, on the other hand, includes straightforward link aggregator Breitbart.com, which is more navigable than Drudge Report thanks to tabs and search functions; Breitbart.tv, a curated set of embedded videos, with comments; Big Hollywood, a conservative groupblog on the entertainment industry which sounds based on that description like it should be an unmitigated disaster, but which somehow draws 700,000 unique visitors per month, according to Breitbart’s advertising kit. The whole family draws 5.1 million uniques a month.

According to a recent Sitemeter analysis by Bloggasm, conservative group blog Hot Air currently draws 808,777 uniques a day. It’s probably a long way off, but if a fully-realized Big Government even approaches numbers like that, Breitbart will have a vertically-integrated web empire on his hands.

Breitbart’s claim that the site will not be “a narrow Republican/conservative idea factory” seems dubious, especially because in the next breath he says in conservative code-language that “the advocates of liberty and free markets are not as narrow-thinking as the traditional media would have you believe.” Remember when HuffPo had the likes of Greg Gutfeld as columnists? Yeah, so much for that.

The political blogosphere thrives on brutal polarization, and Breitbart’s past successes show that he’s well aware of this.  The Atlantic’s Mark Bowden recently wrote a great article about the negative effects that the partisan web has on news coverage that’s well worth a read.

But if polarization is bad for the body politic, it’s good for making bank. According to his ad kit, Breitbart charges a Perez Hilton-like $25,000 a day to place the biggest type of roadblock banner across his current sites. Big Government could mean bigger business.

image (top) via Just Another Blog (From LA)


Here’s a longish video of Breitbart on Fox News this morning — the ACORN video takes up most of the first half, and Breitbart cuts in at about the 5:20 mark.


Yahoo’s Bartz On Alibaba Stake: ‘Very Good Investment For The Future’

Tension may be growing between Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and Alibaba Group—but don’t look for Yahoo to sell its 44 percent stake in the company any time soon or to offload its other Asian investments for that matter. During an interview on CNBC, CEO Carol Bartz described the Alibaba stake as a “way to profit” from the Chinese internet market without directly operating there.

“Frankly, when I got here, (I thought), ‘Oh, my gosh, we’re not in China, everybody has to be in China,’” she said. “But we all know China is a tough market to be in, especially in media. The Chinese government is much more interested in media companies being Chinese ... So I view it frankly as a very good investment for the future.” As for its 35 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, Bartz said that Yahoo Japan adds revenue and net income to the company. “That’s not an investment, that’s actually a partnership,” she said.

In the past, Yahoo has openly floated the idea that it might sell its Asian holdings. And earlier this year the company did in fact sell its 10 percent stake in Korean auction site Gmarket to eBay (NSDQ: EBAY).

At the company’s annual meeting in June, however, Bartz had implied that it was unlikely that Yahoo would unload its Alibaba stake in the short term. But she gave a much more muted explanation, saying that “selling it in this market is probably not the best idea in the world.” Alibaba controls Yahoo China and there have been reports that Bartz is less than pleased with Alibaba’s handling of the site.

Other highlights from Bartz’s interview:

—Asked whether she would have sold Yahoo to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) if she had been CEO a year and a half ago, Bartz said, “Well sure. You think I’m stupid? I mean let me see, 15, 34. Yeah, I think so.” Microsoft had offered as much as $33 a share for Yahoo. The company’s stock is now trading at around $15.

—There’s been rampant criticism that Bartz has sold around $2 million of her Yahoo holdings since taking over as CEO eight months ago. But Bartz said she “didn’t sell anything.” Asked whether she had reaquired the shares, she said “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” (Separately, SearchEngineWorld notes that the sale represents a very small fraction of her overall Yahoo holdings).


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Social Cause Marketing: A Seamless Integration

TobydRecent headlines have read that although the recession is nearing an end, it may be years before everyone feels the actual effects of an upswing. Particularly, non-profit organizations may be among the last to recover from the worldwide economic debacle. There is a silver lining: even amidst a global recession, the marketplace is chock-full of companies who are showcasing their cause-related commitments, especially through social media.

According to IEG, North American companies will spend about $1.55 billion on cause marketing efforts in 2009, a roughly 2% increase over 2008. MediaPost reports that 41% of Americans said companies should increase their spending on cause marketing. Additionally, a recent report by Cone Inc., a leader in the industry of cause marketing has identified 10 top trends in the world of cause marketing. One of the most interesting that they have spotlighted is dubbed: “a la carte Cause,” that is, leveraging online media, brands are engaging consumers to choose the causes the company will support.

As a digital strategist and Director of ThinkSocial, I am interested in ways that brands can utilize the power of social media, especially Twitter, to bring people together around the world to support social causes.

Here are some notable examples of social cause-marketing efforts:

· Retail chain Target and their “Bullseye Gives” campaign: The company will give 5 percent of its income to charity – about $3 million every week. For a short time, the company will let Facebook users decide how to allocate this money to a list of 10 charities.

· Staples “School Supply Drive”: Staples is again partnering with DoSomething.org to provide school supplies to children in need. Consumers can get involved by giving at the register, buying extra supplies to donate or running their own school supply drives in schools and communities.

In addition to my work at ThinkSocial, I am also helping to organize NYC Twestival. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Twestival is a global series of events held within a three-day period across the globe and is famous for harnessing the power of social media to bring people together for great causes.

On September 12th, New York will host a Celebrity Bowling Tournament, in association with Brooklyn Bowl and Flavorpill to benefit non-profit charity, CampInteractive.

As part of the fundraising effort, SeamlessWeb, the nation’s leading online food ordering service, will be donating the change from every single transaction made on its platform. While it’s not known exactly how much the effort will raise, it is clear that given the success of the site and the number of transactions they do on any given day, it could be significant.

But the really interesting part is in the way they are integrating with Twitter. SeamlessWeb recently introduced a ‘Tweet this’ feature to their site, allowing customers to Tweet about their recent SeamlessWeb order. If you’ve ordered from them you may have tweeted something like this:

“Thanks @SeamlessWeb! Just ordered my meal online from Red Basil Thai Kitchen at http://www.seamlessweb.com

On September 12th they will be change this message to:

“Just ordered my meal online from Ashiya Sushi and @SeamlessWeb donated 67 cents to @campinteractive! http://www.seamlessweb.com

This is an interesting example of social cause marketing on so many levels:

1.  The campaign fits within the existing flow of the customer transaction

2.  It creates awareness without being disruptive

3.  It integrates with Twitter, without asking the customer to do any additional work

4.  It utilizes the brands core strengths, without deflecting from their message

5.  It drives attention to the cause, while raise money passively, not through donations

6.  Everyone wins; the user, the cause and the brand

“By combining a commitment to give back to the local community with social media tools like the “Tweet This” feature, we’re enabling our customers with both a reason to speak well of us, and the tools to do so easily,” said SeamlessWeb’s Director of Marketing Matt Johnson.

This example demonstrates that initiatives such as Twestival provide compelling opportunities for brands as they create natural online buzz as members of the digital media community blog and tweet extensively around the event. Leading up to the events this September, Twestival has already generated a tremendous amount of attention and has been picked up by national television, radio, online, and print publications including: The New York Times and Guardian, Mashable, PBS, and CNET.

With SeamlessWeb’s involvement and willingness to try something creative and untested, we hope this initiative will generate even more buzz and awareness and most importantly essential funds for the charities it supports through this initiative. We also hope that more brands will follow their lead and work with other Twestival’s around the world to support vital causes through integrated social cause marketing initiates.

You can find out more about NYC Twestival here.

Toby Daniels is an entrepreneur and digital strategist. He is the founder of SocialMediaWeek, cofounder and Director at ThinkSocial at the Paley Center for Media and facilitator of mass-collaboration. Dupe Ajayi contributed to this column.

What Did the President Really Say?

Politico got it just about right. “In the end,” wrote Carrie Budoff Brown, “a speech meant to reset the health care debate ended up sounding in large parts like speeches Obama gave before, raising the question of whether the public heard anything Wednesday night to calm their nerves.” While the pollsters will do their best to answer that...

Norman Horowitz: Rush Limbaugh Is Not a Zaddik!

To all of you young people out there who want to succeed in talk radio or on Fox News, here are some things that will get in your way if you do them. They are: Stay in school until you finish college, avoid drugs, work hard in a real job, defend your country, fall in love and marry your "one and only", and be willing to vilify others who do have a better education and more work experience then you.

I would speculate that at a very early age Rush wanted to avoid any hard physical work so he became a radio disc jockey and started in the "business of talking on the radio."

He worked at several radio stations before settling in Kansas City, Missouri. Then in 1979 he took a position as director of promotions with the Kansas City Royals baseball team.

Limbaugh returned to radio in 1984 as a talk show host at KFBK in Sacramento, California. Having achieved a "ratings success" in California, Rush began his national radio show in 1988 in New York City. As a result of his national show, Rush Limbaugh became "famous for being famous on the radio." Wow!

He encountered a few well publicized trivial personal difficulties in the 2000s. He faced criminal probes from a highly publicized illegal abuse of prescriptions and the prescription drug OxyContin.

In 2006, kind and gentle soul that he is, he imitated the physical symptoms of actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease. He said "[Fox] is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act ... This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

Limbaugh referred to a Los Angeles Times editorial which claimed that Barack Obama was filling the role of the "magic negro", and that this explained his appeal to voters. Then he played a song "Barack the Magic Negro" sung to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon".

Commenting on the Obama Presidency he said "... I hope he fails." He explained that he didn't want "absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business to the mortgage industry, the automobile business to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work." He continued, "What is unfair about my saying I hope

Liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what's gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here."

Now I ask you, how responsible is that?

This year, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele referred to Limbaugh as "an entertainer" and his rhetoric as "incendiary" and "ugly". Despite Limbaugh's assertion that African-Americans, in contrast with other minority groups, are left behind socially because they have been systematically trained from a young age to hate America through a widespread movement headed by figures such as Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, and Barack Obama, inconceivably, Steele later telephoned Limbaugh and apologized.

Rush is not qualified in any way to take issue with the President of the United States about anything!

In the last Presidential election, almost seventy million people voted for President Obama and no one voted for Rush.

No one elected him for anything!

No one voted for him to do anything!

So a short explanation about why Rush could be Rush on the radio.

The Fairness Doctrine, which had required that stations provide free air time for responses to any controversial opinions that were broadcast was rescinded by the FCC in 1987. This meant that stations could broadcast editorial commentary without having to present opposing views.

I personally abhor the fairness doctrine for reasons I have often expressed in the past, but if it were still the law of the land, Rush "never would have happened."

Talk about a wide open opportunity to take irresponsible shots at whomever he wished. Wow!

Rush, was in a manner of speaking created by the fairness doctrine.

Talk radio has given this entertainer a platform to attack and vilify whomever he chooses to attack and vilify.

Boy, is this not a great nation wherein an uneducated drug addicted, military avoider, divorced three times who never participated in the political process can challenge the President of the United States about anything?

Everyone in America is an expert in at least three things. They are:

  • The Weather
  • Politics
  • Movies and Television.

Rush Limbaugh is an American, and is at least expert in two out of the three and possibly all three.

However!

Would he argue and take issue with a doctor about diseases?

Would he argue and take issue with a geologist about the earth?

Would he argue and take issue with a physicist about nuclear energy?

Would he argue and take issue with a pilot about flying an airplane?

Would he argue and take issue with an economist about the details of the economy?

There is after all something to be said about education, training, and experience.

Would Rush be in a position to tell Wall Mart, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, General Motors, Conoco Phillips, General Electric, Ford, Citigroup, and AT&T how to run their businesses?

How in heavens name can he tell our President, Congress, and Courts how to run theirs?

When I hear Rush rant about anything, I truly wonder why, in that as a rule, he does not have a scintilla of experience, training, or education that would allow him to take issue with what others are actually saying or doing?

He has never been an operating executive in anything nor has he to the best of my knowledge been in charge of anything substantial other than possibly his three wives.

So how come I have never heard him be critical about how AT&T is being run? How about Chevron?

But of course he knows about everything he can take issue with when it comes to President Obama, his presidency, and anyone and anything else when he so chooses.

Now please tell me what might be wrong about that?

The "Wizard of Oz" anyone? His followers have looked "behind the curtain" and do not care about what they have seen.

In the real world, had it not been for Toto, we might never have known what went on behind the Wizards curtain.

Rush is "the Wizard" and I only wish that Toto were here to pull back the curtain on him.

As I conclude I shall define a word which is most certainly not in common use and that is: Zaddik. In Judaism it means a righteous and just man.

I just decided to throw that in.

Rush for sure is not a Zaddik.




Reshuffling the Senate

I was somewhat critical of a David Rogers article earlier this week, but his Politico piece today on the shuffling of committee chairmanships in the Senate is terrific: written for political junkies, to be sure, but packed full of news, context, and history. The committee system basically creates a structure in which senators whose home states...

Joe the Heckler Not Ready For Prime Time

wilson_9-10Sometimes when a person inadvertently lands in the spotlight, they pounce on the opportunity and make the most of their 15 minutes. Like Joe the Plumber, for example.

Well Joe the Heckler isn’t that person. After Rep. Joe Wilson became a household name last night for shouting “You lie” during Pres. Obama’s address to Congress, he quickly apologized in a statement. But we demand video! We got it today, and now we kind of feel bad for the guy.

Appearing nervous, his voice shaking, Wilson was bombarded with cameras and microphones this morning as he left his office. “I, last night, heard from the leadership that they wanted me to contact the White House, and state that my statements were inappropriate,” said Wilson. “I did, I’m very grateful that the White House, in talking with them, they indicated they appreciated the call.”

Here’s another part of his comments, word for word:

We need to be, uh, discussing, uh, issues specifically to help the American people. And, uh, that would not include, uh, illegal aliens. These are people…I’m for immigration, legal immigration. I’ve been an immigration attorney.

Then he’s completely thrown off with a “tweet”-related question.

Now his opponent is raising big money in response and more dirt is being dug up on Wilson. At least Pres. Obama accepted his apology.

Here’s the video:

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