The Price of Truth

(Screenshot from the 1956 film adaptation of “1984”)

Remember when “information wants to be free” was a thing said — and maybe even believed — by the passionately progressive techno-nerds who built out the internet? Conservative and libertarianish techno-nerds like me even bought it.

If that was ever true, it sure isn’t now.

Let me tell you a VodkaPundit Certified True Story™. But don’t worry because, despite what my kids say, I can actually keep it short.

I was the first blogger I know of to get demonetized by Google — and the irony is that I wasn’t even making any money at it.

When I launched VodkaPundit in January of 2002, it was strictly a labor of love. I didn’t have a single banner ad, no tracking, nothing. The idea was that I could write anything about anyone or anything without worrying about losing any income because there was no income to lose.

Obviously, this was not a long-term business model. But everybody needs a passionate hobby, and for the first five years, that’s exactly what VodkaPundit was.

By February, VodkaPundit started showing up in Google results, even if I did have to search for some very specific phrases to make that happen. That was nice, right up until it stopped in April. I don’t know what I wrote on my little blog that caught the unapproving eye of one of Google’s unaccountable algorithm tweakers, but VodkaPundit got shoved down Google’s memory hole.

My appeals — to some automated black hole, of course — went nowhere.

Aside from feeling personally offended, back then it didn’t really matter. Bloggers in the early days didn’t get many visitors from Google; we got our traffic through links from other bloggers. A single mention from Instapundit or — and this was the highlight of my first year of blogging — James Lileks could add an extra zero to your daily visitor count.

And since it was a hobby, my attitude was, “You can’t demonetize ZERO, Larry and Sergey!” That mindset made me feel like one of those charming Tom Bodett commercials: “I’m Tom Bodett for Motel 6 and we’ll leave the light on for ya.”

But times have changed. My early passionate hobby became a passionate mission with the launch of PJ Media. How much have times changed, really? Not even X, formerly Twitter, is immune from being demonetized.

“Wait, wut”? I can almost hear you ask in a tone suspiciously like mine, “Isn’t Twitter worth billions of dollars and owned by one of the richest men ever who also has a cheeky DGAF attitude?”

Well, yes. But the “Anti”-Defamation League, according to Elon Musk, “has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it and me of being anti-Semitic.”

There is no safety in numbers, folks, not even in the billions. Information wants to be free, but getting the truth out costs money. We’re subject to the same forces that Musk is, have taken a similar hit to our ad revenue, and we’ve got a lot less wiggle room. Our managing editor — Paula Bolyard, the Best Boss Ever™ — recently wrote a column listing all the articles that have been demonetized. She has to update it regularly.

If it were just me, I’d shrug it off — I’m an old hand at surviving demonetization. But it isn’t just me.

It’s you.

Want to share the latest analysis from our own Matt Margolis, Megan Fox’s hard-hitting reporting, or give a boost to our newest writers like Ben Bartee and Michael Cantrell? Want to add your own comments on those Facebook shares, where they can be seen on a bigger platform?

Yeah, good luck with that — they’re squelching you, too.

So if you’d like to help us keep the lights on and make sure there’s still a place where you can make your voice heard, please consider becoming one of our VIP or VIP Gold supporters. VIP benefits are great, including exclusive content from all your favorite PJ writers, podcasts, no ads, and access to our (nearly) troll-free comments section. VIP Gold gives you all that, plus video live chats like “Five O’Clock Somewhere” with Stephen Kruiser and Yours Truly twice weekly, and the same level of goodies at all of our sister sites — Townhall, Hot Air, RedState, Bearing Arms, and Twitchy.

And on me, enjoy a lovely 50% discount with the promo code CENSORSHIP.

I’m Steve Green for PJ Media and we’re trying to leave the light on for ya.

Exclusively for our VIPs: Florida Man Friday: Frankenduck vs. the Newsweasels

Join the conversation as a VIP Member


Trending on PJ Media Videos