There's an old joke that goes:
- "Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?"
- "Sure, mister, you bet!"
- "OK, would you sleep with me for 10 bucks?"
- "Whoa, hang on, what kind of girl do you think I am?"
- "Madam, we've already established what kind of girl you are, now we're just negotiating over the price."
Which brings us to Rebel News, and its deliciously context-dependent principles about selling out. See, it was not that long ago that Ezra Levant -- while begging loyal groupies and fanbois to shovel money to him -- insisted that he would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever sell out and take money from Justin Trudeau, no sirree, Ezra had pride and integrity and principles and he'd never compromise any of that:
That is, of course, utter rubbish since, if you peruse the main web page of Ezra's boutique media outlet and white nationalism emporium and dry cleaner, you see, way down there at the bottom, a link labelled "Advertise", which takes you here:
In short, far from being journalistically as pure as the driven snow and refusing to compromise its principles for mere money, Rebel News is not only willing to sell itself to anyone with a chequebook, it actually has a price list.
In short, "We know what you are, now we're just haggling over the price."
P.S. There's an interesting followup to this, but you'll have to come back later to check it out.
I'M BACK, and there's an obvious followup to the above, based on this snippet from a recent commenter who opines on something I've noticed for quite some time:
"Since the failure of the Rebel's original grandiose plans for advertising and program sponsorship, and their ineligibility for federal, territorial or municipal programs designed to support actual journalism, Ezra has made a polemical virtue of necessity, bragging that his inability to attract sponsors or attract funding is proof of his "independence" ..."
As the commenter points out, it's clear that, since the creation of Rebel News, Ezra's grandiose vision included regular revenue from advertising, and sponsorship, and that sort of thing ... but that's never really worked out, has it?
Over the years, there's been precious little primary advertising on the site, and even the much less lucrative rotating Google ads have been decimated by the relentless efforts by "Sleeping Giants" to convince advertisers to ban their ads from appearing there. Quite simply, if you peruse the Rebel News site these days, you will find (as far as I can tell) no advertising whatsoever. So what happened?
I submit that Ezra is what happened. In a nutshell, rather than creating a legitimate, moderately credible, right-wing alternative to "mainstream" news that might have actually attracted advertisers, Ezra (with the assistance of numerous equally deranged, hate-filled yahoos) turned Rebel News into what it is today -- a vile, repugnant cesspool of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny and (dare one say it?) anti-Semitism as evidenced by Rebel's promotion of the brand of white nationalism that has, as one of its main building blocks, well, anti-Semitism.
Rather than taking the time to nurture what could have been a viable alternative to the media outlets at the time, it seemed far easier for Ezra to descend almost immediately into personal attacks and smears and hatchet jobs, to the point where even the Conservative Party of Canada wants nothing to do with it. And it's unlikely that's going to change any time soon; I think it's safe to say that the people who walked away from Rebel News in disgust are unlikely to return.
Quite simply, rather than trying to take the high road, Ezra and Rebel News have thoroughly burned pretty much all of those bridges, which makes for what one suspects is, in the long term, an unsustainable business model.
For a guy who claims to stand up for the business community, Ezra shows an astonishing degree of ignorance about how entrepreneurship works. He made the same fundamental mistake at the Rebel as he made at the Western Standard and Sun News; he's offering a product on the basis of an unsustainable revenue generation model.
He first achieved notoriety at the Western Standard through a series of high profile stunts that grabbed some MSM attention. The first was a poll that purported to show that most Albertans wanted to secede from Canada. It showed no such thing, of course, and was invalid at every step from its loaded question to its biased sample to its misleading reporting of results. But it grabbed headlines, as did his last and most famous stunt - the Mohamed cartoons. I think it was at that point he first launched the faux martyrdom technique he later perfected, demanding that his loyal readership confront Muslim news vendors and DEMAND that they carry his rag, encouraging his fans to buy multiple copies to show support, and so forth.
The problem, however, is that if your product is rage directed at a specific market segment, that market segment will not only boycott your product: they'll also make their displeasure known to the advertisers and sponsors who keep your hatemongering afloat. When that market includes Muslims, Indigenous peoples, the LGBT community, non-Conservatives and anyone east of Winnipeg - well, even the oil companies and tobacco vendors won't want their names associated with a media outlet that routinely shits all over a majority of its potential buyers. So - bye bye, Western Standard.
Exactly the same problem beset the Sun News network. Their business planning apparently assumed they'd receive mandatory carriage status by the CRTC, meaning cable carriers would be obliged to carry their service, charge subscribers and pay a portion of that revenue to the network. When the Commission received an overwhelming number of negative interventions and their application for mandatory coverage denied (even their owner's host cable network in Quebec declined the service), the network succumbed - advertisers were simply not interested in subsidizing Ezra's serial racism, and what its former producers acknowledged was "just really bad television".
The Rebel may have started out with the honest intention of becoming a credible conservative media outlet, but they entered their long, slow and inevitable death spiral quite quickly because of Ezra's failure to grasp a few market realities.
a) The niche that the Rebel serves is not actually interested in intelligent analysis from a Conservative perspective. They are there to have their limited, angry, frightened and largely uninformed view of the universe validated and reiterated by and within a like-minded community.
b) Rage is an addictive thing - Rebel readers visit for sustaining hits of anger, triggered by a few simple mantras and keywords that evoke a Pavlian hit of adrenaline fury. (Count the number of times the odious Keean Bexte sneers the word "Trudeau" in every sentence.) Like any other addiction, however, rage requires stronger and stronger hits. Michael Cohen gives way to Brian Lilley give way to Faith Goldie gives way to the current dregs, where the rage mongering is pretty much unmediated.
c) So the result? An outlet that no sponsor would touch with ten foot pole, that no credible journalist would ever want to be associated with, that no reputable politician would ever speak to, that has spiraled downward and inward to the point that its "reporters" now speak pretty much exclusively to each other when they're not out picking fights, and studiously avoid any input that might disturb the echo chamber.
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