If you call your website “RedState,” shouldn’t its stories reflect what readers in Trump-voting red states want to see? That’s not a hard question for Salem Media Group, the Christian broadcasting company that owns RedState.com and other influential conservative properties, including Regnery Publishing. So RedState has just liquidated most of its anti-Trump writers, while saving money, too. According to the site’s disgruntled founder, Erick Erickson, RedState has had two tiers of writers on contract, and the pricier ones are mostly getting “tossed.”
Erickson left RedState when Salem acquired it, and there’s no love lost between them. After this latest “mass purge,” Erickson says “RedState is all but dead now.” Where RedState had once been “about collaborating between all sides of the GOP,” under Salem “the grassroots focus went away… in favor of clickbait with analysis.”
Unfortunately for Erickson, the GOP is not a party with a variety of “sides,” it is the party of Donald Trump, to an overwhelming degree. The president is more popular than ever with the evangelical voters who are the bedrock of the modern Republican Party–in a recent poll he commanded 75 percent support among white evangelicals. Those are the grassroots, and Salem understands them very well, which is why the broadcaster was in a position to acquire things like RedState and Regnery.
Erickson belongs to the curious coterie of Republican media figures who present themselves as spokesmen for conservatism, and even claim to represent “all sides,” when in reality they are profoundly out of touch with the right. Erickson proved this in early 2016 when he took part in National Review’s “Against Trump” symposium, an attempt to destroy the Trump movement before it could win its first victory in that winter’s primaries. Not a single pro-Trump viewpoint was included in that issue.
Salem is not purging the right but balancing it out by giving a voice to the pro-Trump majority for whom media conservatives like Erickson do not speak. This is sound business sense, and it’s not as if NeverTrump writers are ever short of places to publish: the rise and fall and rise again of Kevin Williamson has demonstrated as much. Erickson and his fired RedState friends are not about to be silenced, much as he may resent the fact that other voices are now louder than theirs. The irony is that these are not red state conservatives at all, but blue-state, blue-city, or blue-media conservatives. Perhaps someone will start a new website to reflect that, if it can find an audience. The business brains at Salem don’t think there is one, and they’re most likely right.