Other Group

The American Independent

Website:

americanindependent.com

Type:

Liberal News Blog

Formerly:

Shareblue Media

Blue Nation Review

The American Independent (TAI), formerly known as Shareblue, is a left-of-center and Democratic Party-aligned publication that covers politics and the progressive movement. It is part of True Blue Media and receives a significant portion of its funding from American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, both of which are within the advocacy empire of Clinton family-aligned Democratic activist David Brock. TAI insists that the Foundation has no influence on its editorial decisions. [1]

True Blue Media acquired TAI, then known as Blue Nation Review (BNR), in November 2015. Brock fired the publication’s entire staff, though two former employees later received job offers from the new publication. [2] In September 2016, Brock re-launched BNR as Shareblue Media under the management of Peter Daou, a former left-of-center blogger and Hillary Clinton campaign staffer. Shareblue explicitly aimed to help Clinton win the election, and the publication received praise from the Clinton campaign. [3]

In November 2019, Shareblue rebranded again and became The American Indepdendent. At the time, the publication claimed to have “a higher interaction rate than any other news site today.” [4]

History

Blue Nation Review

In June 2014, BNR executive editor Jimmy Williams described his publication as “a place where progressives can debate” and emphasized that “what we want here at BNR is a great debate.” He acknowledged that “some of us may not be for something while others will,” but suggested that BNR could serve as “common ground.” [5]

Some left-wing commentators observed a significant shift in BNR’s editorial choices that coincided with Brock acquiring the publication. In March 2016, Daily Beast editor-at-large Lloyd Grove noted that BNR, which previously treated socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as “a liberal hero,” had “started attacking the 74-year-old Sanders” with the same intensity as that of Republican attacks on Clinton. Grove accused the publication of “masquerading as an independent news and opinion site” that actually served as “a propaganda arm of Hillary Clinton’s presidential juggernaut” and even “an attack dog for Clinton.” Former Sanders campaign strategist Tad Devine called the new BNR “the pond scum of American politics” and said that deceiving people is “what they do for a living.” [6]

Shareblue Media

The publication continued its positive coverage of Clinton after she won the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination, and shifted towards attacking Republican nominee Donald Trump. In February 2018, an anonymous Twitter user posted an extensive analysis of accounts that extensively linked to Shareblue while attacking Sanders supporters and defending the Democratic establishment. [7] The user noticed that pro-Clinton Democratic consultant Sally Albright had a consistent group of accounts that almost always retweeted her posts and supportive replies to her posts. Many of the accounts used photos of existing people as their avatars, but used fake names, indicating that they were not associated with genuine individuals. Albright accidentally exposed her “bot” network when she posted a screenshot of her Buffer app, which allows users to manage multiple Twitter accounts. Many of the same fake accounts were visible in her Buffer app. Albright said that a client of hers managed the accounts for “an analytics program,” but would not disclose who the client was. However, the fake accounts consistently retweeted posts by Shareblue writers, especially when they were critical of Sanders. [8]

The American Independent

As The American Independent, the website continues to push a consistent anti-Trump editorial direction, regularly attacking President Trump. In October 2020, the publication posted a cartoon titled “Corona Bingo,” in which a man reads off names of Trump administration officials who tested positive for COVID-19 while a woman with a scorecard celebrates. [9]

People

David Brock

David Brock runs True Blue Media, which owns The American Independent, and American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, which funds TAI. He started his career in the 1990s as a conservative reporter who targeted the Clinton administration with investigative journalism, but switched political sides in 1998, when he wrote a public apology to President Bill Clinton and attempted to re-brand as a mainstream journalist. [10]

Brock launched Media Matters for America (MMFA) in May 2004 to report on alleged conservative misinformation in the news. [11] According to multiple former employees, MMFA leadership favored Hillary Clinton in both the 2008 and 2016 elections, causing conflicts between management and staffers who favored Clinton’s Democratic rivals. By 2016, covering for Clinton appeared to be the organization’s primary mission. A former staffer said that it became less “about actually debunking conservative misinformation” and more “about just defending Hillary Clinton.” The former employees identified Brock as the one pushing the pro-Clinton angle, and some of them have said that the organization cannot do its job properly unless Brock steps back from managing it. [12]

In April 2020, the watchdog group Patriots Foundation filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service detailing transactions between Brock’s organizations that allegedly exploited their tax-exempt status. The group provided evidence that Brock may have illegally profited from the transactions. [13] In August 2020, Patriots Foundation also sued the Federal Election Commission after it failed to act on a complaint that the group had filed against MMFA. The complaint alleged that MMFA had made illegal contributions to the Clinton campaign in 2016. [14]

Peter Daou

Peter Daou ran Blue Nation Review, which he renamed to Shareblue, during the 2016 election cycle. Under his leadership, the publication focused on defending Hillary Clinton from Republican criticism and attacking Clinton’s Democratic primary rival, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Daou later said he regretted targeting Sanders, and has promoted him since then. [15]

In September 2017, Daou launched Verritt, a platform which described itself as a source of facts and statistics for Clinton voters. The site’s defining feature was a serial number attached to each piece of information which was supposed to demonstrate its accuracy. However, many headlines on the site featured highly-subjective claims such as “Hillary Democrats Are the Heart and Conscience of America” and “The Republican Party Is Harmful to America’s Children.” Verritt received widespread derision from Politico, the Washington Post, The New Republic, Gizmodo, and other publications across the political spectrum. [16]

Allison Girvin

Allison Girvin became Shareblue Media’s CEO in July 2019 after roles at HuffPost, ABC, and NBC, the latter where she was an executive. [17]

Editorial Team

Executive editor Kaili Joy Gray and senior editor Courtney Rock previously worked for the abortion provider and left-wing activist group Planned Parenthood. Gray, along with editor Karen Freund, previously worked for the left-wing Daily Kos blog, whose founder Markos Moulitsas accepted money from the Howard Dean presidential campaign in exchange for favorable coverage. Managing editor Melanie Schmitz, senior writer Josh Israel, and reporter Casey Quinlan all previously worked for left-wing media outlet ThinkProgress, which was founded and later closed by the left-of-center think tank Center for American Progress. ThinkProgress’ editors have made inflammatory statements justifying the shooting of police officers and wishing a “slow, painful” death on Fox News head Roger Ailes. Editor-at-large Jess McIntosh and outreach director Josh Nerpel previously worked for Hillary Clinton, who enjoyed favorable coverage from TAI (then Shareblue) during the 2016 election. [18][19][20][21]

Financials

In the years leading up to 2016, when True Blue Media acquired Blue Nation Review, the publication operated at a loss of several hundred thousand dollars per year. After the acquisition and rebrand, Shareblue was able to turn a profit in 2016 and 2018. [22]

Since he acquired BNR, Brock has been open about treating it and its successor publications as a means of generating revenue. In addition to subscriptions and merchandise, Brock outlined plans to sell sponsored content space for businesses and organizations aligned with his agenda. He also indicated that user data would be up for sale and email lists would be available to political advertisers. [23]

References

  1.        “Company,” The American Independent. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://americanindependent.com/company/ ^
  2.    Ryan Grim and Gabriel Arana, “Sale of Blue Nation Review Gives Hillary Clinton Camp Its Very Own Media Outlet,” HuffPost, December 3, 2015. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/david-brock-blue-nation-review_n_564f0f3de4b0879a5b0a7bc5 ^
  3.       Jason Horowitz, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Outrage Machine, Allies Push the Buttons,” The New York Times, September 22, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/us/politics/hillary-clinton-media-david-brock.html ^
  4.            The American Independent, Facebook, November 18, 2019. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/theamericanindependent/photos/a.268624786652737/1410119385836599/?type=3 ^
  5.        Jimmy Williams, “What is Blue Nation Review?,” Blue Nation Review, June 1, 2014. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://archives.bluenationreview.com/what-is-blue-nation-review/ ^
  6.         Lloyd Grove, “Hillary Clinton’s Hit Men Target Bernie Sanders at Blue Nation Review,” The Daily Beast, April 13, 2017. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/hillary-clintons-hit-men-target-bernie-sanders-at-blue-nation-review ^
  7.              @likingonline, “Shareblue Astroturf Analysis,” February 14, 2018. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://shareblueastroturf.netlify.app ^
  8.       Paul Blumenthal, “How A Twitter Fight Over Bernie Sanders Revealed A Network Of Fake Accounts,” HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/democratic-bot-network-sally-albright_n_5aa2f548e4b07047bec68023 ^
  9.   Clay Jones, “Cartoon: Corona Bingo,” The American Independent, October 7, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://americanindependent.com/white-house-coronavirus-spread-cartoon/ ^
  10.            Jonathan Karl, “Reporter Apologizes For Clinton Sex Article,” CNN, March 10, 1998. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20080614124146/http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/03/10/brocks.remorse/ ^
  11.     “About Us,” Media Matters for America. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.mediamatters.org/about-us ^
  12.        Clio Chang and Alex Shepard, “What Happens to Media Matters in a Post-Hillary World?,” The New Republic, December 19, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://newrepublic.com/article/139385/happens-media-matters-post-hillary-world ^
  13.   Lachlan Markay and Lachlan Cartwright, “Top Dem Operative David Brock Accused of Illegally Profiting From His Political Empire by Conservative Group,” The Daily Beast, April 24, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/david-brock-accused-of-illegally-profiting-from-his-political-empire-by-patriots-foundation ^
  14.           Andrew Kerr, “Conservative Group Sues FEC For Failing To Act On Allegations Against Media Matters,” Daily Caller, August 14, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://dailycaller.com/2020/08/14/conservative-group-fec-lawsuit-media-matters-patriots-foundation-david-brock/ ^
  15.   David Klion, “What Happened to Peter Daou?,” The New Republic, December 3, 2019. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://newrepublic.com/article/155866/happened-peter-daou ^
  16.        Jack Shafer, “This Pro-Hillary Website Looks Like North Korean Agitprop,” Politico, September 6, 2017. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/06/verrit-hillary-clinton-peter-daou-215582 ^
  17.        “Shareblue Media announces new CEO Allison Girvin,” The American Independent, July 18, 2019. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://americanindependent.com/shareblue-media-announces-new-ceo-allison-girvin/ ^
  18.     James Taranto, “The Politics of Disorder,” The Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-politics-of-disorder-1468858069 ^
  19.       William M. Bulkeley and James Bandler, “Dean Campaign Made Payments To Two Bloggers,” The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2005. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB110566243803425942 ^
  20.       Deroy Murdock, “Think Progress to Fox News’ Roger Ailes: Drop Dead,” National Review, August 19, 2014. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/think-progress-fox-newss-roger-ailes-drop-dead-deroy-murdock/ ^
  21.       “Company,” The American Independent. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://americanindependent.com/company/ ^
  22.            The American Independent, ProPublica. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/331137541 ^
  23.    Lachlan Markay, “David Brock Thinks Liberals Will Pay for His ‘Twitter-Like’ Website,” Washington Free Beacon, January 25, 2017. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://freebeacon.com/politics/david-brock-thinks-liberals-will-pay-twitter-like-website/ ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Jess McIntosh
    Executive Editor
  2. Eric Boehlert
    Former Writer
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