Talking Points Memo has tried to delegitimize certain Republican or conservative strategies and tactics over the years. For example, Josh Marshall has tried to undermine conservative claims of voter fraud. (Thank God that we now have Election Journal, which is beginning to document the crime that is so systematic in the functioning of machine politics and which so many Democrats defend either implicitly or explicitly) This strategy may have reached its crowning success in the US Attorney scandal. I have heard from a number of sources that TPM's actions have stalled nearly all election fraud investigations at DoJ.
Now TPM Muckraker reporter Andrew Tilghman appears to be after direct mail fundraising, with an extraordinary series of posts targetting BMW Direct, a conservative direct mail firm based out of DC.
I have two points in writing this. First, direct mail needs to be defended. Second, the reporting by Tilghman is either dishonest or ignorant. The reporting of facts is solid but he does absolutely no work to place it in the context of direct mail practices. Again, his goal is to smear the practice.
First, the defense. Direct-mail fundraising is one area in which conservatives (more than Republicans) have a significant tactical advantage over liberals. A substantial delegitimization of direct mail fundraising would have the effect of defunding conservative candidates and organizations.
While direct-mail fundraising may not always be super-attractive in the days of internet fundraising, it provides an effecttive method of participation for people who do not trust giving over the internet, especially older voters. Hopefully, over time, we can educate our grassroots over time and move them into lower-overhead forms of fundraising with phone calls or, eventually, email. This is an important point to make. When some Republican consultants deride direct mail as not "effective", they need to ask "effective for whom?" It is still the most "effective" way of engaging some of our coalition.
More on Tilghman's reporting and the actual practice of direct mail after the jump.