If you want a crash course in why the GOP’s “rebranding” is doomed, look at what happened with Cracker Barrel over the weekend.
The often off-ramp-accessible restaurant chain announced on Friday that it would be pulling Duck Dynasty products from its shelves in response to an interview in which the family’s “patriarch” said, among other things, that homosexuality leads to bestiality.
Within hours, the right-wing website Twitchy posted the chain’s tweet announcing the move along with enraged responses from fans of the show or fans of anti-gay rhetoric in general.
From there, the outrage spread and by Sunday morning, Cracker Barrel surrendered:
— Cracker Barrel (@CrackerBarrel) December 22, 2013
And soon another Twitchy post was celebrating the victory.
Some have compared Twitchy to a teenage “slambook,” a notebook students pass around and fill with pointed opinions about their classmates. I’ve called it the website that challenges the notion that the content of a post should make more sense than the comments.
But there’s no doubt that the hyperpartisan site is hyper-successful; it’s the 1,054th most popular online destination in the United States, making it a leader in the right-wing blogosphere just behind Breitbart.com at 1,037 and ahead of WashingtonExaminer.com at 1,566 and RedState.com at 4,753. And the site was just sold for an undisclosed amount to the publishers of Townhall.com.
By simply reposting tweets with minimal commentary, Twitchy operates on the belief that anyone who has something nasty to say about President Obama or Democrats is a star. Anyone on Twitter who skewers the left well enough can make headlines on the site. Have any hint of notoriety already and negative things to say about the president? Tweet away and “Twitchy Staff,” the mysterious author of every post, will definitely write it up.
Then Michelle Malkin will tweet the post to her 650,000 or so Twitter followers and possibly share it with the more than 1.3 million people who follow her on Facebook.
Her fans made Malkin, a fiery columnist and Fox News contributor, famous. And by returning the favor, she not only built a business but is fine-tuning an online activism machine that can rain down outrage with great vengeance and furious anger whenever she or her writers decide someone is deserving of scorn.
Twitchy’s CEO helped spark the news story that dominated the end of this year when she tweeted the notice she received from her insurance company in September telling her that her plan had been canceled. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) immediately retweeted her and a meme was born.