Follow the money…

Ever notice how often propaganda web sites (both conservative and liberal) beg for money or disguise fundraising gimmicks as news? For political movements that claim, so often, to have the support of “mainstream America” these folks sure seem to have their hand out a lot.

FreeRepublic.Com holds more fundraising telethons than public television. Visitors are bombarded with “support FreeRepublic” buttons and requests for money.

WorldNetDaily has, on an average day, at least nine come-ons to buy its products disguised as headlines on its homepage.

NewsMax, which is funded out of the deep right-wing pockets of billionaire conservative demagogue Richard Mellon Scaif, still has ten or more money-grabbing schemes on its front page using the same typeface and size as its so-called “news” headlines (although the “headlines” do start with “adv”).

DemcraticUnderground.Com carries at least two “donate” links on its home page along with a message to buy liberal books through their affiliation with Amazon.Com so the web site can make money from the purchase. Buzzflash hypes their “premium” service.

Yet, while each of these sites beg for money or use trickery to try and sell products under the guise of “news,” some also have a private circle of friends with deep pockets who support these propaganda outlets because they help promote their political agendas. Scaif’s connection with NewsMax and billionaire George Soro’s bankrolling of MoveOn are public knowledge but most of these partisan fatcats operate in secret, using their checkbooks to bombard the public with misinformation and slanted “news.”

Two questions arise about such sites: First, why are they so secretive about who provides their financial backing and support and, second, with so much effort put into trying to separate visitors from their money, what is the real motive for the site?

Anyone who owns a web site (and I own several) knows the site itself is seldom a money maker. When I got into this business, I remembered the lesson of the San Francisco gold rush where the only ones who made money were the California Pick & Shovel Company, which sold implements to dig for gold, and Levi Strauss, who sold clothes to the miners. So I started a web hosting company to pay the bills. We host businesses, associations, philosophical groups (both right and left) and even politicians (Democrat and Republican).  I also own other business enterprises, including a photography and digital printing business and a web-design company.

But Capitol Hill Blue is not a business. Never has been. Never will be. True, the site carries banner ads sold by two independent ad agencies which represent the site but the revenue from those ads do not go into my pocket. For two years after September 11, 2001, the ad money went to charity. Now, the income covers about 40 percent of the overhead and I pay all other costs of running the site out of my own pocket. We have in the past, been offered financial support from one group or another but I always turn down such requests. That helps assure that Blue is not, and never will be, beholden to any special interest group or their agenda. The only philosophy you find here is mine and I’m an independent who thinks both Republicans and Democrats are scum of the earth.

We learned long ago that money taints just about everything it touches, especially politics and government. The special interest millions that go into the campaign funds of our elected officials are, sadly, the only real “representative government.” As recent stories about the fundraising tactics of scandal-scarred House Majority Leader Tom DeLay have documented, the special interest that pays the most gets the vote.

When government is for sale, democracy is not served. When politicians spend most of their time raising money, the business of the people finishes a distant second. And when a web site spends more and more time begging for money, or owes its existence to a partisan with deep pockets, you have to question both the motive and information from that source.

It doesn’t matter if the site is a right-wing propaganda outlet like GOPUSA, funded by Republican activist Bobby Eberle and his circle of fatcat Republican friends, or Air America Radio, which depends on donations from rich liberals with an agenda.

Money controls the message and, when money talks, truth walks out the door and doesn’t look back.