Excerpt: The Conservative Message Machine Money Matrix

Consider that the conservative political movement, which now has a hammerlock on every aspect of federal government, has a media message machine fed by more than eighty large nonprofit organizations -- let's call them the Big 80 -- funded by a gaggle of right-wing family foundations and wealthy individuals to the tune of $400 million a year.

And the Big 80 groups are just the "nonpartisan" 501(c)(3) groups. They do not include groups like the NRA and the anti-gay and anti-abortion groups, nor do they include the political action committees (PACs) or the 527 groups (so named for the section of the tax code they fall under), like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which so effectively slammed John Kerry's campaign in 2004.

To get their message out, the conservatives have a powerful media empire that churns out and amplifies the message of the day -- or the week -- through a wide network of outlets and individuals, including Fox News, talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, and Ann Coulter, as well as religious broadcasters like Pat Robertson and his 700 Club. On the web, it starts with townhall.com.

Fueling the conservative message machine with a steady flow of cash is a large group of wealthy individuals, including many who serve on the boards of the Big 80. Rob Stein has brilliantly documented all of the above in "The Conservative Message Machine Money Matrix," a PowerPoint presentation he has taken on the road across the country, preaching to progressives about the lessons that can be learned and the challenges that need to be overcome.

In the face of all that the conservatives have assembled, Stein is nevertheless still optimistic, in part based on what he saw as promising, unprecedented levels of collaboration among progressives leading up to the 2004 election. But he emphasizes that there is much to do. "We, of course, continue to have far more challenges than answers or enduring capacities," Stein says. "Indeed, everything that happened in 2003 to 2004 can best be described as a ‘stirring,' not a solution. We have miles to go before we have built a strategic, coordinated, disciplined, and well-financed community of local, regional, and national organizations that collectively can mobilize a majority progressive constituency."

Like what you've read so far? Make a donation to AlterNet and get a copy of Start Making Sense, or buy it directly from us today.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.