Erick Erickson sent an email to his RedState.com subscribers this week endorsing an "Instant Millionaires" financial newsletter, written by analyst Mark Skousen. Erickson touted Skousen's newsletter, available for the low price of $99.95 for one year, as the "best investment advice I know of, bar none." The twist? Ann Coulter endorsed the same newsletter in a nearly identical email to her followers almost four years ago.
Media Matters' Eric Hanaoki pointed out how heavily Erickson's email lifts from Coulter's below:
Both Erickson's and Coulter's emails were sent through Eagle Publishing's The Human Events Group, which represents the email lists of both conservative commentators. The company lists a rate of $6,250 for renting RedState's list, though it's not clear if an Erickson-penned endorsement bumps the cost. Skousen's website, like RedState, is owned by Eagle Publishing.
But Erickson responded on Twitter, denying he got paid to endorse the newsletter:
Sorry Media Matters, but I happy to support a good friend. Didn't earn a penny. http://t.co/8ML6gC0yIa— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) July 18, 2013
In 2011, Politico reported that Eagle was prepared to sell Erickson's endorsements to a "handful of [conservative] organizations." Erickson denied the report, claiming, "my endorsements are not for sale."
Featuring paid endorsements on blogs or in email newsletters is nothing new. But common ethics suggest that the author of the blog or email should disclose the fact that they're being paid. Fashion bloggers often run into trouble with this issue, featuring clothes on their blog that they were either given for free or paid to wear and then failing to mention how they acquired the goods.
This week, we've seen a few conservative bloggers accused of creating sponsored content. Buzzfeed reported that a Ukrainian group paid for bloggers to write positive posts about the Ukraine government, and Erickson's fellow RedState blogger Breanne Howe and Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro both wrote posts that mirrored the group's talking points. Howe and Shapiro blogged back in October praising Ukraine's ruling Party of Regions. Both admit to using talking points provided by a proxy, but deny being paid.
Erickson made one other notable endorsement this week: Liz Cheney for Senate. He probably did that one for free.
Image via Media Matters