Another day, another inscrutable vendetta-fueled internet fight. Last week, left-leaning political satire blog Wonkette ran a post mocking Sarah Palin’s son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome, and using the word “retarded.” The post quickly came under fire from conservative blogs, and took off on Twitter from there, getting special attention from Andrew Breitbart affiliates John Nolte and Dana Loesch, who felt that the story was being wrongly ignored by the mainstream media.
The Daily Beast has a breakdown of events, but the short version is that the boycott seems to have been really successful — more people are joining the cause, and more advertisers are dropping out. Papa John’s has been a high-profile victory for the campaign, with CEO John Schnatter endorsing the campaign on Twitter. Wonkette ran an apology on the post, pleading bad editing and saying the post went against their policy of mocking Sarah but not the small Palins, and eventually pulled the whole thing. But the heat hasn’t died down.
So where are we, at the end of the day? Breitbart’s crew decides that an off-color post on a small political humor site that frequently makes fun of them is a prime target for a hard-push boycott campaign, since the story is being mysteriously ignored by CNN. They score a hit at their rival, and get some more names on their mailing lists. ‘Papa’ John Schnatter goes back to dumping money into hardline conservative candidates and their causes. Really, a major coup getting him to pull his advertising from a liberal site he didn’t know he was advertising on. And Rush Limbaugh will go on using the r-word in front of his audience of millions, with only a vague admonition from these same purportedly agenda-free media watchdogs.
The Daily Beast quotes Wonkette editor Ken Layne as saying that:
… the entire political website world would very quickly [be] facing the same kind of dumb mob bullshit as NPR is facing, as ACORN suffered, [and] as Planned Parenthood is fighting.
Real people are pissed off at Wonkette, and rightly so, but nobody’s been sent running scared of their political power; the targeted advertisers have merely been given permission to act in accordance with their existing interests. The groups wrangling the outrage are less big business’ angel-on-the-shoulder than growth.