On Thursday there was a mass resignation of staff at the Tea Party News Network — TPNN (see Tea Party News Network staffers resign en masse, citing ‘despicable practices’ and Mass exodus at Tea Party news site amid clickbait accusations).
They started as a news source for growing tea party ranks, a go-to place for political discussion and information. By this week it had dissolved into a shadow of its former self, succumbing to a fate that affected many in the blogosphere — clickbait. Make the most outrageous headlines just to get people to click on your story and up your visitor numbers, numbers that can be used to lure advertisers to the site:
Today, a chunk of staffers from the Tea Party News Network, a news site with nearly 12 million unique visitors per month, sent in their resignations over the company’s “despicable practices.”
The resignation came soon after the publication of a Daily Beast exposé about the news outlet, which has seen incredible traffic numbers coupled with what its readers perceive as a decline in the quality of content, sometimes with little connection to tea party issues. (One recent headline: “Big Strutting Peacock Picks A Fight With The Wrong Guy.”)
The exposé also shone light on some of their business practices, such as the fact that the Tea Party News Network’s Facebook page regularly posted content from different websites, such as “, which shows street altercations of the type that are banned from YouTube.” The sites are all owned by TPNN’s owner, Todd Cefaratti, and are all for-profit, while TPNN itself is a non-profit site.
This comes on the heels of some follow-the-money exposés the past months. Tom Dougherty at Practical Politicking exposed in August 2014 how little money five PACs — Tea Party Leadership Fund, Tea Party Patriots, Madison Project, Sarah Palin’s PAC, and the Tea Party Express — spent on candidates, complete with charts (see Flushing Your Money Down the Tea Party’s Toilet):
From the “best of the worst” to the “worst of the worst” – here are the amounts received and then spent on operations (like administrative costs, consultants, fundraising, online expenses, professional fees and travel); here too are the amounts contributed either directly (contributions) or indirectly (independent expenditures) to candidates, for the five organizations.
Also shown are the (paltry) sums spent by each organization on candidates and campaigns; Bear in mind the (alleged) focus for these groups in the 2014 cycle is on regaining a GOP senate majority.
Even Ed Morrissey wrote about the money scam at Hot Air, as well as John Hawkins at Right Wing News. See also Tea Party PACs reap money for midterms but spend little on candidates.
It is a sad but not unexpected evolution of the movement that began in 2009 with good intentions but has dissolved into factions and money scams and power moves and clickbait.