Washington Post: Politicians Use ‘Money-Blurts’ To Raise Campaign Money


Think that you’re doing everything in your power to stop Michele Bachmann from becoming president? Well, by just reading this, you’re kind of helping her out. The Washington Post reports on and coins the phrase “money-blurt” to explain the phenomena surrounding political candidates in our present media world. Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam write:

Here’s how it works: An up-and-coming politician blurts out something incendiary, provocative or otherwise controversial. The remark bounces around the blogs and talk shows and becomes a sensation. And in the midst of it all, the politician’s fundraisers are manning the phones and raking in the donations.

So essentially, politicians are being monetarily rewarded for making the kind of remarks we enjoy reporting on so much here at Mediaite. After she accused President Obama of having ‘anti-American’ views in 2008, Bachmann, who was then relatively unknown, received a million dollars in donations. Other examples include Congressman Joe Wilson, who received two million in campaign donations after shouting “you lie!” at President Obama as he addressed Congress in 2009 and Congressman Alan Grayson, who also succeeded in gaining a million dollars in donations for announcing the Republican party’s health care plan amounted to “die quickly.”

After each politician made these remarks, the media basically exploded with coverage. Everyone was quick to chime in with their two cents and by doing so, the names of the politicians in question were repeated until they became household names. Every person who heard about say, Wilson’s “you lie” comment became a potential supporter. Even negative coverage helps: the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad press” is especially true in connection to the “money-blurt.”

Although numerous politicians have benefitted from this affect, very few have achieved success on the levels that Bachmann has. She has achieved fame almost entirely through these “blurts”. The Federal Election Commission keeps track of media buzz and fundraising for candidates and recorded that in 2010, when Bachmann became famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) for her connections to the controversial tea party, she earned 13.5 millions dollars in donations. This marked her as a top “earner” for the GOP.

In an age where we gain information through 160 word tweets, the “money-blurt” is especially effective. It is short, to the point, and can easily be spread virally across the internet. Supporters can even pledge donations on the internet, making it that much more simple to fundraise.

The Post is carefully vague in its questioning of whether “money-blurts” are premeditated or not, noting that very few political campaigns are willing to discuss the issue. They do note that politicians often time ads with appearances, which makes it that much easier to remember to donate after hearing a candidate say something impassioned that you agree with.

However, this isn’t always effective. While Grayson initially gained support after his “die quickly” remark, he was eventually defeated in his next Florida election despite a series of inflammatory campaign videos: his district was simply too moderate. Campaign wealth does not necessarily equate to success, but it certainly equates to media buzz. So chances are you’ll be hearing a lot more from Bachmann as we draw closer to the 2012 elections.

(h/t The Washington Post)

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