Friday, March 29, 2013

There Was A Club

You were not in it.
CommonSense Media, a digital advertising network co-founded by film producer and Firedoglake publisher Jane Hamsher, has filed for bankruptcy to liquidate its assets.

Founded in 2007 by Hamsher, AJ Schuler and Deveria Flowers, CommonSense Media describes itself as “a digital alliance of publishers and advertisers who are shaping the future of digital advertising in the political space.”

CommonSense Media's Chapter 7 filing earlier this month in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Washington, D.C., lists many prominent news sites and blogs among its 48 creditors. (A portion of the document, obtained in a public records search, is below.) Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings allow companies to liquidate assets while being protected from creditors.

Hamsher is known as a leading figure in the progressive blogopshere and left-leaning pundit. CommonSense Media's creditors, however, span the political spectrum and include Daily Kos, Raw Story, AlterNet, Talking Points Memo, MyDD, The New Republic, Crooks and Liars, The Drudge Report, National Review Online, RedState Human Events Eagle Publishing, Town Hall Salem Communications , Five Thirty Eight, The Hill, CQ-Roll Call, Taylor Marsh, John Aravosis (AMERICAblog) and Duncan Black (Eschaton).

Hamsher signed the bankruptcy filing, dated March 18, as "debtor" and is listed in a related document as "president." The company's name on its site is "CommonSense Media." The court filing refers to "Common Sense Media, LLC."
If you have ever been curious about why some otherwise doughty high-end bloggers were always so shy about ever crossing Ms. Hamsher no matter what she said or did, perhaps you are now a little less curious.

For the record, the only blogging revenue I have ever received has come via direct voluntary contributions from readers.  No ads.  No Soros checks.  No "sponsored content". No quids pros or quos.

Hard for me to figure out if that puts me radically ahead of the curve or radically behind it :-)

What I know for sure is that while this single-shingle pie shop at the edge of the interwebs may be a poor thing, it is entirely mine own.

And it turns eight years old in two days.

So "yay" for that.


Linkmeister said...

You are not alone, comrade. I'm on year 11, rising 12 in October. It's cost me a fair bit cumulatively for domain renewals and hosting, and I've never gotten a dime from anyone either.

Compound F said...

shame on you. make your case for yourself, which you have been doing poorly, lately.

better yet, explain our situation, defend us using your talent. But it seems you are over-ruled, somehow.

Instead you give us, "I never loved Eva Braun" by the Boomtown Rats, The Onion of its day.

Compound F said...

quite weighty stuff, putting libs in their place according to the law of the land devised by large banks.

What in heck is going on with Lanny Breuer, mate?

Yastreblyansky said...

Hey, mazel tov. All the same--I haven't read yucky Hamsher for a long time, but I think all of you who are working on ways of making a little money out of this stupid business deserve a little thanks, including those who don't work out--even Andrew Sullivan! Let a hundred flowers bloom. Also, Hamsher has stabled some great writer,s from Emptywheel to TBogg.

Kent said...

I guess I missed your point. Why would anyone be hesitant to criticize Hamsher? Because she was heavily in debt to them?
It seems that the disincentive to be critical would work the other way -- watering down her progressive perspective to avoid antagonizing her paymasters.

marindenver said...

"Why would anyone be hesitant to criticize Hamsher?"

Because, at least at one point, she controlled a big part of their revenue stream from ads?

The fact that her company is now filing for bankruptcy raises a lot of questions for me about where that ad revenue was going if not to the customers. Kind of like where the money went from the PAC she and, I believe, GG set up to buy stuff from themselves. Questions, questions.

D Johnston said...

Despite her questionable history, I doubt Hamsher was raiding the till. Advertising networks fold up all the time, usually due to mismanagement.

It probably doesn't help that Internet ad rates have been dropping in most markets for a while. Hamsher started her network in '07, when ad rates were artificially high thanks to speculation. I know people who quit their jobs during that period to pursue careers in online entertainment, and did well...for a few years, anyway.

MarkGisleson said...

How can anyone trust any of those blogs ever again, knowing that they secretly partnered with Drudge and Red State?

Did anyone on the left ever make money blogging without selling out?

Unknown said...

I see some irony in firedog's bankruptcy being reported in Huffpo. Hamsher's operation carried political correctness to an extreme, but at least she wasn't leveraging low- or no-pay writing into a sweet cash-out.

Anonymous said...


D Johnston said...

@MarkGisleson: No one was partnered with Drudge or Red State, they were just all using a common commercial service. That would be like saying that Driftglass is "partnered" with Ann Althouse because they're both on Blogger.

MarkGisleson said...

D Johnston: How would you describe Jane Hamsher's relationship with her customers then? Her venture was doing business with all sides which means she was trying to help the bottom line of The Drudge Report and the especially heinous Townhall. I doubt very much Matt Drudge came to her. Without a doubt those "clients" were solicited.

I look forward to learning more about this, but after a quick search of Firedoglake, it's obvious I'll never learn anything about this from them.

Anonymous said...

1) It wasn't "her" company, it was an LLC. Look it up.

2) The LLC was owed a lot of money that never was paid. Check the list of creditors and the list of debtors and see how many names are on both lists.

3) The LLC was an effort to try to show that progressive online media could be funded in this day and age without resorting to the subscription model.

Unfortunately, because Google has bigfooted online ad revenues, the failure of CSM pretty much is a good canary-in-a-coal-mine indicator that the members of the fourth estate (from newspapers to most bloggers who don't already have day jobs or deep-pocketed patrons) are screwed. (See also: )

Of course, this doesn't apply to the right wing side of the media fence, because right-wing moguls are far more willing to prop up and support their media with "wingnut welfare" than are lefties. Quick, name a billionaire besides George Soros who is both an actual, unabashed lefty AND a person willing to pay at least sporadically to support lefty media. Can you? (And no, Ted Turner and Mark Cuban don't count.) I can't, but I can, off the top of my head, name several right-wing Richie Rich types not named Rupert Murdoch who want control of the media: Sheldon Adelson (Israel Hayom), Conrad Black (Jerusalem Post, Torygraph, Chicago S-T, etc., at least until his empire collapsed), the Kochs (about to snap up the LA Times), Richard Mellon Scaife (the Pittsburgh Trib-Review, the American Spectator during its get-Clinton phase), and Sun Myung Moon (Washington Times, Insight on the News). There's nothing anywhere near comparable on the left.

Anonymous said...

"I see some irony in firedog's bankruptcy being reported in Huffpo. Hamsher's operation carried political correctness to an extreme, but at least she wasn't leveraging low- or no-pay writing into a sweet cash-out."

Michael Calderone, the person who wrote the HuffPo piece (which was later corrected as it had major errors), has been on the receiving end of some very sharp (and deserved) criticism from FDL alums over the years, most notably Emptywheel. Put the words "michael calderone politico firedoglake" into most any search engine (Yahoo works especially well for this) and you'll see what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Here is the future. It's not pretty.

Anonymous said...

I had no use for J. Hamsher from the time she and Mike Stark were "helping" Ned Lamont's campaign. In quotes because I believe they did more harm than good.

olandp said...

The headline made me think of the story about P. G. Wodehouse and Art Buchwald... Wodehouse wrote to Buchwald and suggested they form a club. Buchwald asked, What would this club do?" To which Wodehouse replied, "Why keep everyoun else out, of course!"

I used to be a several times daily reader of Pam's House Blend, but since her move to Firedog Lake (for financial reasons) I have never really enjoyed reading it. I have great respect for Pam and miss her independent blog.

JerryB said...

I'm not a blogger but I am a regular reader of a number of blogs and have been for years. I enjoyed FDL in the early years. There were interesting stories with good writing and a strong progressive community growing around it. That started changing a couple of years ago. Still some good writing but too many topics I was less interested in and a growing community that was increasingly hostile to anything less pure than themselves and little in the way of moderating.

I still go by there from time to time but other than a rare comment, I stopped participating over there long ago.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

God damn that Hamsher!!

If only she, Glenn Greenwald, and Chris Hedges would have clapped louder, Our Sainted President woulnd't have to keep trying to cut Social Security.

And suck off banksters.

And blow up little foreign children.

What a courageous hero you are, driftglass.

Pinkamena Panic said...

It never stops.