The right’s perpetual outrage machine, and how it works

Over the past few months, I’ve written a lot about the rise of a “perpetual outrage machine” on the right, a highly profitable mini-industry “that cannot ever accept compromise or agreement because compromise and agreement would destroy their business model.” They exist to create expectations among conservatives that can never be met, then reap the financial benefits of the frustration that results.

A piece in today’s New York Times explores how that machinery operates, and who benefits.

Take the Tea Party Patriots, which has helped to drive the efforts to unseat John Boehner as speaker and block Kevin McCarthy, and is now using its email list of contributors to gin up conservative anger against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Note that the villains whom they target are often not Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. They are usually fellow conservatives, apparently because these groups find the theme of internal betrayal to be particularly profitable.

As The Times reports:

“… campaign finance records show that while the (Tea Party Patriots) raised $14.4 million in the 2014 election cycle, only about 10 percent of that went to so-called independent expenditures to support conservative Republicans, with most of the rest going to pay staff members and consultants, including Ms. Martin, who records show was being paid $15,000 a month early last year. In the last election cycle, the organization spent four times as much on mailings, postage and email marketing as it did on these elections, the records show.”

A similar group, the Tea Party Leadership Fund, also joined the effort to “oust the sellout Republican John Boehner,” begging conservatives to donate to that worthy cause. “Your immediate contribution could be the most important financial investment you will make to help return America to greatness,” the group pleaded on its website.

But as the Times reports:

“… campaign finance records … show that of the $6.7 million the Tea Party Leadership Fund has raised since 2013, only about $910,000 has been spent on conservative Republican candidates it supports — either in direct contributions or independent expenditures on the candidates’ behalf — as an alternative to Mr. Boehner and his supporters.

Almost all of the rest of the money it has raised since 2013 has been spent on consulting firms involved in helping collect the donations.”

In short, it’s a scam. And websites such as Breitbart and the Washington Examiner are part of it, receiving notice of new fundraising drives ahead of time from the Tea Party professionals so they can match content and help raise the level of “grassroots” discontent to a profitable roar.  Martin and others are treated as conservative grassroots spokesmen, appearing often on Fox News or other outlets to boost their credibility that they then monetize through fundraising appeals.

That “grassroots” description is a central element in the deception. These outfits are generally based not in Peoria or Woodstock, Ga., but in places such as Washington, Arlington, Alexandria or other D.C. suburbs, and they are run by longtime professional fundraisers whose only real interest is in the response rate their appeals generate. They have no term limits, they are answerable to no one, but they are very much part of the permanent Washington establishment that they pretend to despise. Their only real connection to the grassroots is through their extensive databases of suckers willing to be flimflammed.

And even though they have no real policy goals, they do wield real power. If and when Republican leaders decide they need to do something responsible regarding the debt ceiling, for example, they will do so knowing that they will have to brace themselves for another blast from the perpetual outrage industry, and that the outrage generated will soon be transformed into a new Mercedes for somebody, or maybe a downpayment on another Alexandria townhouse.

Reader Comments 0

428 comments
JoelEdge
JoelEdge

"...it’s a scam."

If it's a scam then the Democrat Party is a full blown extortion racket. The Democrats pioneered the us-vs-them mentality. Gay vs straight, black vs white, american companies vs environmentalists, men vs women, old vs young, etc. If you're someone with a perceived grievance against someone else, the Democrat Party is your party. The only people that get a pass from the Democrat Party are rich people that give them money.

Juanx
Juanx

Is this poor cats getting rich or just getting rich cats richer? We need more info, Jay. Wonder if the Tin Hat Tea Party supporters would believe your report?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@SimpleTruths 

 Morons like Hank "Guam will tip over" Johnson? 

I was thinking more along the lines of Louie "Poors Get Fat On King Crab Legs" Gohnert.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

Meanwhile the latest poll unsurprisingly finds that food lovers love food by a greater margin than non-food lovers.

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

@Numbers_R_Us Did that poll include dead people - you know, the ones that wingers believe are still voting? Side note - Wings - yum!

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Polling News You Can Use, courtesy of 538 today:


Vladimir Putin has a 90 percent approval rating in Russia, according to a state-run pollster that is totally legit and in no way influenced by Vladimir Putin, who controls the state that runs it. 

JayBook
JayBook moderator

@Visual_Cortex Speaking of which, is Lenin now mummified on Red Square or something?

SimpleTruths
SimpleTruths

"Honestly, I really don't care about Clinton's trustworthy rating."

The liberal stance, in a nutshell.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@SimpleTruths Honestly, a nutshell is the remnant left behind after a right wingnut cracks.  Trey comes to mind as a recent case.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@SimpleTruths 

No, that's the Brosephus stance in a nutshell.  In case you haven't followed, I don't really give a rodent's rear about ANY politician, be they liberal or conservative.  I've also stated that I'm not a Clinton supporter and will not be voting for her.

Don't try to use MY words to broad brush people who didn't speak them.  You phony conservatives are very good at such BS. 

Any other misconceptions that I can clear up for you, young buck?

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@SimpleTruths

Why don't you tell us how the GOP candidates poll on that Very Important Metric.

Surely you know this off the top of your head, since it means so much to you... right?

kitty72
kitty72

@SimpleTruths 


Considering the nuts in the conservative clown car I wouldn't throw stones if I were you. I doubt those guys would understand honesty if it hit them upside the head or they could just be stupid...even worse.


It comes down to picking a loon or Hillary who is a consummate politician, I think I have to pick Hillary. I don't worry as much about WW3. The Donald on the other hand, well, no.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@SimpleTruths The right does not care about foreign policy because if it did the two front runners would not be total losers on the subject.

Eustis
Eustis

"Their only real connection to the grassroots is through their extensive databases of suckers willing to be flimflammed"


DIA's phone number is at the top of their list.

SimpleTruths
SimpleTruths

@Eustis "DIA's phone number is at the top of their list."

Link please?  Or are you citing pulledouttayourassica.com?

td1234
td1234


Gallup’s latest poll finds the much-demonized National Rifle Association with far higher approval ratings than two of its most prominent assailants: President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  The NRA had a 58 percent approval rating, far higher than Obama’s 45 percent or Clinton’s 41 percent.

Furthermore, Gallup reports the highest “very favorable” rating for the NRA, 26 percent, since it began testing the organization’s popularity in 1989.

The NRA’s approval rating has been fairly steady in recent years, only dipping to 54 percent after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012, while peaking at 60 percent in 2005. Gallup recalls its all-time low approval rating was 42 percent in June 1995, “at a time when the NRA sent out a fundraising letter calling federal law enforcement agents ‘jack-booted government thugs’ in the wake of the Waco siege in 1993,” with the Oklahoma City bombing following soon after.

Unsurprisingly, support for the NRA is divided sharply along partisan and ideological lines, with Republicans and conservatives viewing it far more favorably than Democrats and liberals. Conservatives give the NRA a soaring 77 percent approval rating, with 41 percent “very favorable,” while liberals express only 30 percent approval, with 45 percent rating it “very unfavorable.”

It is equally unsurprising to find the National Rifle Association much more popular with gun owners (78-20 approval) than non-gun owners (49-42).

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

@td1234 Squirrel! Hey, I have an idea - I wonder how the wingers would accept doing abortions with guns?

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@td1234 So it's back to NRA, Obamacare, and abortion since Benghazi failed.  Gotta keep that bagger money rolling in to pay the moochers. 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

DiA: "other side of the wager"


Does that mean betting on (insert Republican candidate) being rated "trustworthy"?

Nope. I ain't taking that bet. 

steveatl
steveatl

@LogicalDude I could never vote for a Candidate like Carson, that's for sure. He doesn't understand the Constitution, obviously.

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

@LogicalDude The beauty of polls is that we're getting a couple of calls a week from pollsters. We fit some idiotic demographic (old, white, always vote in Republithug Primaries for tactical reasons), apparently some "ASSumptions" are made, and "of course" we always give them "answers" regarding our preferences.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

from the mind of DiA,


I'll bet any of you libs that you will not cross this line in one month right now and if you do I will leave for 2 months but if you don't I will.  Now do it or else you're just a bunch of people that will not.   Do you hear ME!

td1234
td1234

Paul42 writes: Ever heard of Article II Section 4 of the US Constitution?


Now, what was that you were saying about straker needing to be smarter than what?  (You too, Philo)

*******************************************************


"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."


The key term is Impeachment. Congress cannot impeach a person that is not in office. 

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

OK...got to run.

You had your chance libs.

Didn't figure you had the conviction to take me up.

All bets are off.

I'm out...

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Visual_Cortex 

Yep. Who else would poll this kind of thing except someone with a narrative to prove?

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Kamchak @Visual_Cortex

It may have been polled before--I see that Gallup asks, among other questions, if respondents believe a President is "honest and trustworthy".

But I tried Googling those keywords and the first three results pages came up with literally nothing before 2013. Which leads me to believe that this is a talking point being talked up by the right, specifically to frame an argument against Hils, nothing more.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

Don't forget, Republicans.  You can start checking out your ObamaScare options this year right after Halloween.  Be Afraid.  Be Vewwwwy Afraid.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Numbers_R_Us Since all else if failing for them right now it's back to Obama is going to take your guns, grand ma's medicare/social security,  and your healthcare.