The latest Human Events advertising e-mail:
When I last complained about the awful advertisements they run, on Bloggingheads.tv, Conn Carroll wrote, “Conor is right that now is the time for cleaning house in the conservative movement. But he is more self serving troll than true believer. Take his Human Events criticism. What is he trying to accomplish?”
My plan was actually quite specific:
Step One: Post about the advertisements and talk about them on Bloggingheads.tv so that some people who work in the conservative movement are alerted to their existence.
Step Two: One of those people composes an e-mail to another friend in the conservative movement, subject line “THE SANCTIMONIOUS RINO,” that links my post and says, “Fucking Friedersdorf is harping on Human Events AGAIN, but these ads are pretty messed up. Beers after work at Capitol Brewing? Or The Big Hunt if you wanna do it by your office?”
Step Three: The e-mail is forwarded to 7 movement conservative bloggers who might want to join in for beers. One of them starts to research a post about how the emails ACORN sends out are way worse, but gives up halfway through after being distracted on g-chat by a woman he is trying to court, who is beautiful and smart, but uses emoticons a bit to frequently for his taste. Three bloggers ignore the e-mail, which contributes marginally to their general anxiety about the quantity of unread stuff in their Inbox. Two of them skim the e-mail, think I have a point, but never think about it again. And one of them accidentally opens it in a cab on his Blackberry, doesn’t know what he thinks, and mulls it over as he walks into an America’s Future Foundation roundtable.
Step Four: Inside the AFF event, he sees an acquaintance who works for Human Events. Over Sierra Nevada beer and hummus he says, “Hey, what’s the deal with those advertising e-mails?”
“Oh, yeah, Conor Friedersdorf asked me about those once,” the person says. “He wanted to know who at Human Events he could talk to about them. I saw a couple months later that he complained about them in a blog post, but I don’t actually know who is in charge of that.”
Step Five: The next day, The Human Events staffer takes another look at the ads, talks to her lawyer husband that evening about how really they are pretty indefensible, and then loses track of the conversation when the baby starts crying, probably because it is teething. Adorable kid though. Going to be an astronaut one day too — a courageous little fellow.
Step Six: The next day the husband goes for a long run through Rock Creek Park, thinking back to his collegiate days running cross-country, and how back then he didn’t have that slight, dull pain in his right lung. “Getting older,” he thinks. This has nothing to do with my plan. (Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious.)
His wife, whose lungs are tainted only by a single clove cigarette she smoked in high school because a cute boy handed it to her, says something to a co-worker about the ads. The co-worker kids her boss about them. “Didn’t you get the swine flu vaccine last week? I get your chair if you die.” The boss looks himself at the e-mail ads for the first time, panics about having gotten the swine flu vaccine, and orders the advertised product immediately. Ha, just kidding, he isn’t worried at all. And he actually knows Tom Phillips personally, and shoots him a quick email with the text of a particularly objectionable advertisement due for publication three days or so from now.
“Is this ad kosher?” he asks.
“We shouldn’t be running that kind of stuff,” Tom Phillips replies. “Our image as a company depends on our conservative readers trusting us. And I’ve never just been in this for the money. In fact, by most accounts, I am a perfectly upstanding guy! Let’s do better in the future.”
It wasn’t a perfect plan, obviously. Step One worked when Heritage Foundation staffer Conn Carrol was alerted to this whole subject, but instead of passing my work along in an e-mail whose subject line mocked me, he just questioned my motives in a comment thread at Bloggingheads.TV. Obviously, if it weren’t for that, everything would’ve gone according to plan, and the 89 year old guy in Tallahassee would get his swine flu shot tomorrow as planned, and he wouldn’t die three days from now. Thank goodness he was a guard in a Nazi death camp, and deserves what he gets, but we may not be so lucky next time.