FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Where RedState comes from.
Lee Siegel is an eminent cultural critic. I admit to being unsure what a “cultural critic” actually is, or how one ascends to the profession, but I do know that Lee Siegel knows. In this capacity, he writes for The New Republic and The Daily Beast. He writes about things cultural, including RedState.
And he gets things badly wrong.
Here’s how RedState began, according to Lee Siegel:
Go to Redstate and you might be forgiven for thinking Republicans were still in charge … [Erick] Erickson, a native Louisianan and former lawyer who lives in Macon, Georgia, sets the deceptively moderate tone. A Macon city councilman and a church deacon, he started the Web site in 2004, running it out of a coffee shop.
No. This is not just an error, it’s an error born of sheer laziness, and as such, is quite nearly unforgivable. Here’s how RedState actually started:
Sometime in March 2004, I posted at the now-defunct Tacitus.org that conservatives should get together and form their own online community hub. I e-mailed the post to Ben Domenech with the suggestion that we create it together. Ben Domenech suggested that Mike Krempasky would be indispensable to the effort. On July 16th, 2004, Ben Domenech, Mike Krempasky and I launched RedState.org. That’s not a typo — the .com came later.
Sometime shortly thereafter — I forget exactly when — Erick Erickson became a regular. I resigned my leadership position in the site in mid-2005, and left it altogether that autumn. (Which makes me the Wozniak of RedState, I suppose: present at the creation, and deserving of no credit for its greatness now.) You know the rest: the site has grown, and frankly, under Erick’s leadership, it’s more relevant and huge now than I ever hoped for. Bravo for that.
But a coffee shop in Macon, Georgia? Where did Lee Siegel get that?
Unfortunately, it’s pretty obvious. Erick Erickson likes to work on RedState at a coffee shop in his hometown. When journalists write about him, he’s generally photographed there. Here’s one. And here’s another. It’s rather likely that Siegel saw these pictures, and/or their accompanying descriptions, and concluded that bloggers and blogs are where they began. Et voila, RedState’s founding is retold with all the veracity of a John Kerry war story.
A minor point? Well, sure. And yes, I admit it’s a bit annoying on a personal level: like the forgotten Jacob Friedrich Brodbeck, it would be nice to have credit for the idea. Vastly more important, though, is correcting the record for its own sake. RedState matters — and that’s fully a credit to those who run it now — and so its history matters too. Erick Erickson is attacked by the left now because they imagine that if they bring him down, they bring down RS too. They won’t, but even if they did, they’re wrong. RedState is Erick, yes. RedState is also you. RedState is also Ben. RedState is also Mike. And just a little, it’s also me.
And we’re not going away.