Mother Jones reports on a publisher (natural healing supplements and Bible-based health tips, among others) that uses big-name conservatives like Mike Huckabee and sponsorship on their e-mails to trade on fear to sell its goods.
Agora’s emails skirt the line between spammy and scammy. An email sent last year to followers of the popular right-wing site RedState on behalf of the Health Sciences Institute claimed that the Obama administration was blocking a miracle cure that “vaporizes cancer in six weeks.”
These disingenuous endorsements for dubious products epitomize what historian Rick Perlstein has dubbed “mail-order conservatism,” the monetization of right-wing paranoia that started in the 1970s and has flowered ever since a secret Muslim socialist won the White House.
The company’s sales efforts have run into skeptical regulators, but the money has piled up. And politicians like Huckabee are happy to help them sell.
Last year, after an investigation by the nonprofit watchdog Truth in Advertising, Stansberry removed hundreds of customer testimonials from his company’s website and promotional materials.
But who needs customer testimonials when politicos come so cheap? Access to Huckabee’s email list reportedly cost NewMarket Health only about $1,000 for 300,000 addresses. When CNN asked the former Arkansas governor about the Bible-cure email, Huckabee argued that he wasn’t responsible for sponsored emails sent out to his supporters. “My gosh, that’s like saying, ‘You run some ads on CNN, do you personally agree with all the ads that run on CNN?’ I doubt you do,” he told anchor Jake Tapper. Pressed further on the email’s “hucksterism,” Huckabee responded, “I didn’t actually run that part of my company.” But that email was just one of his recent endorsements of questionable products aimed at his fans. A few months earlier, Huckabee had taped an ad for a product that promised to cure diabetes using an item from your kitchen cabinet. Spoiler: It’s cinnamon.