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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ideologically driven news outlets are providing a steady stream of funding for like-minded political candidates by harvesting readers’ emails and charging campaigns to fundraise from them, an Axios examination shows.

Why it matters: The mutually beneficial arrangement reinforces the partisan divide. The news sites bombard readers with content attacking political adversaries, and the candidates then step in with a solution: give me money and I’ll stop them.

The big picture: The financial incentives for both the news sites and their email advertisers are obvious. But the arrangement also encourages each party to rile up readers with more divisive content.

  • That keeps eyeballs on the news sites and builds a politically enthusiastic readership more valuable to potential political advertisers.
  • For the advertisers, indulging the same outrage that drove them to subscribe to a partisan news site’s email list is a great way to boost grassroots donations.

How it works: In May, the right-wing website Big League Politics ran a story headlined “BASED: Marjorie Taylor Greene Tells ‘Crazy Eyes’ AOC to ‘Get Rid of Her Diaper’ and ‘Talk with American Citizens.’”

  • The post, parroting criticism from Rep. Greene (R-Ga.) against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) over the latter’s refusal to agree to a debate, soon went out on Big League Politics’ email list.
  • Less than an hour later, the same email subscribers got another message, this one from Greene’s campaign. “AOC Chickened Out!” the subject line declared. It hit Ocasio-Cortez for declining the debate, then asked for campaign donations.
  • Greene’s campaign had rented access to the Big League Politics email list. Both hit the same message, earning both revenue for the website and donations for Greene.

Email list rentals are providing substantial revenue to ideologically driven news outlets, and campaigns are increasingly leaning on those websites to market lists of readers who are predisposed to supporting those same candidates.

  • Large and more established websites such as The Daily Wire and Breitbart on the right and Daily Kos and The Nation on the left have made their email lists available to political campaigns and party organs.
  • There are also dozens of more obscure news sites that do little beyond aggregating content and farming their supporters off to an email list that can then be marketed to political clients.

Between the lines: The list rental payments are frequently routed through large digital and fundraising vendors, making it difficult to trace precisely how much money is changing hands.

  • There aren't many FEC-reported payments to the company American Media Source, for instance, but politicians as prominent as Donald Trump rented email lists derived from its news and opinion properties. The company even publicly lists the rates it charges for each.
  • Some are easier to trace. During the 2020 campaign alone, President Biden’s campaign reported “list acquisition” payments to Daily Kos, The Young Turks and progressive news site Democrats.com.
  • American Wire, a website owned by the GOP digital firm Olympic Media, routinely writes up glowing stories about elected officials who’ve rented its email list, such as Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), both of whom are Olympic clients.

Go deeper

Scoop: 50,000 migrants released; few report to ICE

A law enforcement officer walks to meet migrants crossed the Rio Grande River illegally last month. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have showed up so far, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.

53 mins ago - World

Scoop: Israel launches maximum pressure campaign against Ben & Jerry's

A Ben & Jerry's store in the Israeli city of Yavne. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty

The Israeli government has formed a special task force to pressure Ben & Jerry's ice cream and its parent company Unilever to reverse their decision to boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government is concerned the move by Ben & Jerry's will encourage other international companies to take similar steps to differentiate between Israel and the West Bank settlements. A classified Foreign Ministry cable, seen by Axios, makes clear the government wants to send a message.

Video game developers at Activision Blizzard say they'll walk out Wednesday

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Employees at Activision Blizzard will hold a walkout Wednesday in protest of widespread harassment allegations across the company, a spokesperson on behalf of the group told Axios.

Why it matters: Walkouts are a drastic measure for developers in a largely non-unionized field, a testament to just how angry employees currently are.