Vanity Fair profiles The eXile: "Gutsy...visceral...serious journalism...abusive, defamatory...poignant...paranoid...and right!"
MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
By Mark Ames and Yasha Levine


Our article last Friday exposing the familiar old rightwing corporate machine behind the fake “tea party” protests, and Rick Santelli’s highly questionable role as the one-man MC for the protests’ launch event, wound up crashing the tea party’s mojo, and forcing Santelli to issue a giant apologia on CNBC’s site. It’s titled “I Want To Set The Record Straight,” but it should be called, “I want to keep my shitty second-fiddle job and not get thrown out of my 2,500 square foot house.” You can hear Rick’s pain as the spiked CNBC legal department butt-plug is shoved deeper and deeper in, paragraph after paragraph… especially this one line that will have Santelli sleeping on his stomach for months, where he bleats: “I hope that the President and the final stimulus plan succeed.” Thank you sir, may I have another!

Meanwhile, CNBC’s attack dogs are now after the tea party sites to make sure that the damage to their credibility is contained. An article just published on AP, headlined, “CNBC says ranting Rick Santelli is not affiliated with political site that uses his name,” says that CNBC forced one of the Santelli-promoting tea party sites to take down his likeness and come clean about its very un-grassrootsy character:

Santelli’s name was stripped from headlines on the home page of Monday after its operator was made aware of CNBC’s dissatisfaction. The site was operating within 24 hours after the reporter’s self-described rant on Feb. 19, when he said the president’s plan to help people in danger of home foreclosure was “promoting bad behavior.”

…Before it was altered Monday, the Web site described “Rick Santelli’s Re-Tea Party” four times on its home page, urging people to organize for protests. It had an “About Rick” link with the CNBC on-air editor’s profile, saying he “voiced the sentiment of millions of Americans on the stock market floor.”

Scroll down to the small print at the bottom of the page and there’s a disclaimer saying the site is a grass-roots effort promoted by the Political Exploration and Awareness Committee and that the “opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Rick Santelli.”

Which is interesting, because wouldntchaknowit, the rightwing Republican magazine Weekly Standard just posted an article this weekend strangely timed to promote the now-discredited (by Re-Tea Party itself) AstroTurf image that the website is just a basement DIY project. Titled “Gonna Have A Tea Party,” its author, Jonathan V. Last, makes himself the last journalist on this planet to get to the real truth behind Re-Real Tea Party’s PAC-funded heart:

Anthony Astolfi bought the domain about 10 hours after Santelli’s rant. Astolfi is a 24-year-old web designer and small-time political consultant who dabbled in the Ron Paul world last cycle. He thought the tea party idea had a chance to catch on and decided to organize them for July 4. Working with his roommate and a cousin, they finished building a website by midnight. Then they turned to promoting the project. They did Google searches for “Santelli” and left comments pointing to their new site on high-ranking result pages. They spent a couple hundred dollars on a small number of Google and YouTube ads and finally went to bed around 5 A.M. They awoke to 40,000 emails, their site having become a minor sensation. Astolfi says they now have 11,000 people a day coming to Ten thousand people have signed up to get information on the tea parties, and 5,000 have “pledged” to attend one of so-far eight tea parties on July 4.

Jeepers Wally, isn’t it amazing what a couple a kids acting on their own grassroots selves can do? With just a li’l elbow grease, enthusiasm, and, er, a shady PAC sugardaddy…but we won’t talk about that in the Weekly Standard, will we?

For some reason—call it “fear of getting busted”—all sorts of Santelli/Tea Party shills have been coming out of the closet with their shady affiliations. Like Megan McArdle, who has been leading the attempt to discredit our investigation from her blog at the mighty Atlantic Monthly online. Yesterday she threw in this disclaimer at the end of one of her many obsessive blog posts attacking our article:

“Full disclosure: It’s pretty much an open secret in DC, but given the content of the article I’m discussing, I think I ought to mention that I live with Peter Suderman, who once worked for Freedomworks. Other than giving me the name of the right employee to email to make inquiries (no word back yet), I haven’t asked him about his former employer, and he hasn’t told me anything. I debated whether to write about this, but since I’m not actually defending Freedomworks, I think it’s kosher.”

Right, so even though Megan has about as gigantic a conflict-of-interest as is humanly imaginable–namely, she spoons every night with a guy who was on Freedomworks’ payroll—and even though her article absolutely defends Freedomworks by attempting to discredit Freedomworks’ critics—she nevertheless concludes, against all logic, “I think it’s kosher.” Speaking as two Jews to a McArdle, we want you to know that your conflict-of-interest is about as kosher as a bacon-cheese-and-crab-melt sandwich.



Add your own

  • 1. Duh!  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    “The longer we work as journalists here in America, and the more we’re exposed to the rampant corruption here and the cast of human hagfish angling for a feeding spot on this nation’s carcass, the more it feels like we never left Russia.”

    Ames/Levine – I know the feeling. I did a military article on the thingy that happened between Russia and Georgia, back in October. It’s Pravda in so many ways – neither side had any reporting that could be considered journalistic. Well yours did, so I guess that’s +1 for Panama or wherever you guys are at.

  • 2. Foog  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 1:30 am

    What’s better than reading along as you expose these miserable fucks for the lying cheating scum they are? The snark, glorious snarrrrkkk!!

    God I love you guys.

  • 3. wengler  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 3:20 am

    These are the same type of scum that paid homeless people to fill seats at FCC meetings regarding ownership rules. They wanted to makes sure that their money was out there to make sure concerned people wouldn’t even have their opinion registered in a public forum.

    Fight them as hard and as often as they do. I’m sure some of their sockpuppets will stop by to infect this comment thread as they did the two others.

  • 4. 28  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 3:42 am

    hilarious, where are the gloating right-wing sock puppets spouting the same tired lines: “yes, i enjoy getting fisted by my masters! it’s what america wants!” looks like they’re too pussy to defend their values when then lose a battle–so much for “speak loudly and when threatened disappear like a bunch of the cockroaches, repressed homosexual cockroaches”.


  • 5. Narcoleptic  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Great, great stuff, guys. Exiled investigative journalism! Apparently Santelli, Mcardle and company think we’re really, really stupid. I guess the tea party’s over…

  • 6. Rammspieler  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Were is the sudden flood of Randroids and Third-Rate Rush Limbaugh impersonators (yes I’m talking about Chetly Zarko)? All this time coming on the Exiled to try and discredit classic eXile style investigative journalism only to end up getting betrayed by the very masters they so lovingly serve and tried to protect from two drug-addled Jewish guys. Butt hurt much?

  • 7. Tyler Bass  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 8:00 am

    From her rebuttal: “The smoking gun, to the extent that there is one, is the ‘chicagoteaparty’ domain. But the timing doesn’t work. No one in August knew that there were going to be massive bailouts and stimulus packages against which they could protest.”


  • 8. Guilherme Montenegro  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Just posting a correction to a comment on The Atlantic:

    “Looking at the bio of the authors I wonder, are they plants of the Russian government. They started their publication in Moscow during 2006, a time when Russia was controlled by former KGB head Vlad Putin. They also left Russia during August of 2008. The timing of this article is very suspicious, it came during a time when Obama was attempting to cede power over European protection to Russia. These authors should answer these questions in a reliable publication.

    Posted by EL Rider | March 3, 2009 10:15 AM ”

    Get your record straight, fool. The Exiled was founded in Russia way long ago, in the late 1990´s. It was what you could call a free media, with no links to the regime. In fact they were known for exposés on the infights of the differente Kremlin factions. And they were expelled for it.

    If you want to distort facts, make it at least plausible. But again, I doubt that you have the brains…

    Posted by Guilherme Montenegro | March 3, 2009 11:07 AM

  • 9. FOARP  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Still n’all – why did Playboy take the story down?

  • 10. JFreshInEffect!  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Great job to all involved! This will be the future of Journalism.

  • 11. anon  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 11:46 am

    >>“I hope that the President and the final stimulus plan succeed.”


  • 12. Don  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Great work chaps, good solid investigative journalism catching them with their trousers down.

    And some scary sh*t it is too. This is about as anti-democratic as it comes short of declaring a coup or something.

  • 13. Inessa Armand  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Almost reaches the level of incoherency of the Koch Industries dreck. Drop the pretense of maturity, lose the exiledonline journobabble cotton candy and get back to your real roots: snappers and elitnye whack jobs.

  • 14. Eye del Cul  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    To the comment cited by Guilherme Montenegro:

    Wow. Just wow…

  • 15. Jillian Cimo  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Which stimulus plan, you moron? The “final” one, or the “final, final” one? Or maybe, the “final, final, final” one ….
    Morons like you make the world go round. Kumbaya ….

  • 16. Baked Dr. Luny  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    If the daily show had any balls they’d invite Ames to replace Santelli.

  • 17. Paul  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Good work, really, really excellent. Why did the blog post disappear from Playboy?

  • 18. ron  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    “queueing” and “chap”?

    megan is one of those people that think a british affectation makes you smarter, proving shes dumb.

  • 19. CeaseToExist  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Couldn’t they afford decent help to push this garbage? What’s up with the incompetent and half-assed attempt at viral marketing? The Santelli video stank to high heavens from the start (who the fuck would say “These guys are pretty straight forward. And my guess is, a pretty good statistical cross-section of America — the silent majority” about a roomful of scummy traders in 2009?), but it seems they couldn’t even be bothered to stick with it and sustain it beyond a week.

    Anyway, nice job on this!

  • 20. Harv  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    job well done…but don’t forget that these petty fucks were amateurs – u need to set your sights on bigger fish

  • 21. Graphite  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I guess in this day and age, if you’re not a Democrat on board with every one of Obama’s proposals, it’s ’cause your being paid (in either money or sexual favors) by evil sleeper cells of the Kochtopus.

    Who needs to argue with their opponents when you can just go looking for flimsy connections to *eeeeevil* billionaires?

  • 22. S. Lynn  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Who cares how it got started, I am all in.
    I will be at the Oklahoma state capital on April 15th with many of my friends and neighbors. We have had enough of the government overspending and plan to make our voices heard. This will be my first public protest. It seems extreme anger may drive more conservatives to take a public stand and say enough is enough. I am donating big for the first time as well. Seeing the USA spiraling down the slippery slope to socialism has made me wake up.

  • 23. Karen Schell  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    LOL. Not only was the Santelli fantasy debunked, but Megan McArdle can’t stop queefing all over the Atlantic Monthly’s good name. All of the rightwing sites that were fooled by the FreedomWorks Astroturfing campaign have likewise been forced to inhale some of McArdle’s queef-resin. How awesome for Ames and Levine.

  • 24. aleke  |  March 4th, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Who cares that Hitler is tied to Gustav von Kahr. The disastrous economic policies of Kaiser Wilhelm II must be opposed, or it will surely mean a slippery slope to socialism. The Beer Hall Putsch will be my first public protest. I’m all in.

    Who cares that Lenin was railed back into Russia by the German government. The Kerensky government’s disastrous revolutionary policies must be opposed, or it will surely mean a slippery slope back into exploitative capitalism. The October Revolution will be my first public protest. I’m all in.

    Here’s what I’m doing, S. Lynn. I’m calling you an idiotic patsy of oligarchical tyrants. This is what you are, ghetto superstar!

  • 25. JFreshInEffect!  |  March 4th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    S. Lynn-we are one of the most freewheeling stuff loving out of control capitalist nations on the face of the earth.
    Socialism…..not even close,in yours or the lifetime of your children. You don’t need to be scared, calm the hell down and chill. You are not losing the country. The Russians are not invading.

    The “losers” who received mortgages they couldn’t repay, are in fact losers of a sort, and helping repay said mortgages sucks for the rest of us. It sucks almost as much as not sending to jail the people who sold them said mortgages, starting at the heads of the big mortgage houses right down to the individual broker who is supposed to act in the “losers” best interest due to the fact that they have a license given by their state body.

    We have to stop blaming Bankers, Blacks, Illegal Immigrants, Politicians, Democrats, Republicans, Jew’s, Big Business, and start looking at ourselves very deeply. When the car loan crises hits, who do we blame. What about the credit card crisis when that hits? What about when we leave Iraq. Will the right start saying we were “Stabbed in the back” by the government?
    The blame falls on us all, and it goes back far deeper than the roots of our housing crises will lead you to believe.

    I am a registered republican and feel that it is important that there be both a right and a left side to a functioning democracy, but I always had a deep nagging suspicion that it would be the right who would betray their country and start some series of events that would lead to needless bloodshed.

    7 days in may is looking like today.

    Good job again. An independent web based media is growing.

  • 26. Elmer Dandy  |  March 4th, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I’m also curious: Why did Playboy take the initial article down?

  • 27. Brian  |  March 4th, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    When will Megan McArdle stop queefing all over America’s webspace? Hmmm? You guys are my heroes. I admit I was a supporter of this tea party thing, I was even paid to pretend that I’m a “grassroots” guy, mostly because it was either that or masturbate into my socks. But all my socks are sticky. It’s hard to imagine that I could be any more of a joke.

    You would do well to hope that Santelli doesn’t stalk you and try to kill you, because he’s a crazy fucked-up weirdo. I should know. Still, I’d be feeling like fucking gods if I were you. Sadly I’m not–I’m just an anonymous tool who doesn’t have the guts to use his real name, and if you think I’m just another closet homosexual Republican like all the others, all I can say is, “prove it.” Or maybe don’t. Is it okay to print my email address ? Because I’d like to meet other Republican men who aren’t closet homosexuals. Just to chat online. Preferably with webcams. Cool?

  • 28. Clarity  |  March 4th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Interesting that McArdle had something
    to say a while back against Taibbi, too.

    Does she have an eXile obsession or

    I thought I was the only one.

  • 29. John Christy  |  March 4th, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Good job, Exile. This is the kind of stuff I like to see, and as long as you guys are operating in the USA instead of Russia, this is exactly the type of stuff that will make this site successful. This article was mentioned in a class of mine by a person who I’d never have pegged as an Exile reader.

  • 30. Hef  |  March 5th, 2009 at 12:31 am

    OMG Megan McArdle is such a girl!! She like totally has a vagina and shit!

  • 31. Andy Bolen  |  March 5th, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Wow, I can’t believe you’re not being promoted on every TV network about this epic journalism success. I mean you got Santelli pulled from the tea party movement, Freedomworks admitted everything, Daily Show now slammed the shit out of Santelli and CNBC for being frauds… I’ve never seen one story cause so much havoc. Normally I’d hate you guys since I’m from the University of Chicago. You know, all of the world’s problems today came from my school. We devised the entire Reaganomics program. Maybe we should all be shot or put on trial? Seriously, someone should think about that.

  • 32. PJK  |  March 5th, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I’m curious, why did CNBC force Santelli to quit?

    And, what exactly was it that you geniuses discovered about Freedom works? That their own press release said they were participating? Wow, that doesn’t prove that they were involved. It just proves that anyone who defended this tea party bullshit has serious egg dripping from their faces.

  • 33. jc  |  March 5th, 2009 at 8:02 am

    I read this piece and Megan McArdle’s most recent rebuttal. I’m afraid Megan wins by default as her queefs are actually smellable. One whiff of her queef and I could see the points she was making and their relevance. I gave up on the third queef though because it stank too much.

  • 34. JP  |  March 5th, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Wait, what!?

    Santelli doesn’t apologize for anything. He just denies all the insinuations in your article. He stands up to Obama and even in his letter if you read between the lines what he’s saying is “I don’t support the stimulus,” you just have to put some lemon juice on your monitor to see it. Ignore how he says he supports the stimulus. That’s what I do–I ignored what I read, and drew my own conclusion. I usually think things through that way, actually.

    Also, can you demonstrate that McCardle was queefing about anything? She says that you have crap for evidence that Freedomworks is Koch funded (which was the point of your article, though you oddly don’t mention Koch here). She also says she goes to parties with the Koch family and that they bend over backwards to be honest. I believe her. Hell, I believe anything!

  • 35. obot  |  March 5th, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Came here from Digg. Great reporting, Keep it up.

  • 36. Sickle  |  March 5th, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I asked this of Megan on her blog:


    Could you ask Peter about this?

    Last year, FreedomWorks paid the law firm of Winston and Strawn LLP $58,045 for “legal services.” Apparently, this involved Freedomworks’ attempt to file an amicus brief with the fifth circuit court of appeals (Louisiana). The brief was in defense of State Farm, which was refusing to pay water damage claims in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, arguing that they were natural “floods” and ignoring the problem of failing levees.

    Freedomworks spent tens of thousands to help defend State Farm (which had lost its case) from having to help the victims of Katrina.

    Could you please ask Peter why this supposedly “grassroots” organization is paying a law firm which employs one of FreedomWorks directors and has a K Street address to help out a specific insurance company in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?



    FreedomWorks tax returns are online at You can find the reference to Winston and Strawn among their 2007 filings. Court of Appeals information is public record.

  • 37. Mitchell  |  March 5th, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Mark Ames is Jewish? (See last sentence.) You think you get used to finding Jews at the top of the field in every intellectual endeavor, but then you always get another unexpected demonstration of Jewish intellectual superiority…

  • 38. Jim Pivonka  |  March 6th, 2009 at 2:52 am

    God, what a joy to an old man to know this world has such spirits in it yet!

    You know, of course that Megan was once known as “Jane Rand”? {g} It’s apparently all too true.

    As a Kansan, I especially want to thank you for opening up the Koch casket. That is a pretty piece of business, and deserving of a lot of vigorous digging, and much more exposure. Judging from a couple of the comments, I can see that the light of day burns some corporatarian nerves.

    I’d say to them “Deny everything, deny until they carry you to your grave, I will still have those notes from the Broadmoore…” Of course the youngsters won’t of what I speak – but I, and their mentors, know.

    Term limits, balanced budget amendments, and corporatarian ideology. All the heavy artillery, layed out for the worker ants to haul up and set off. It’s all worked out very well for them, tragically for the rest of us.

    I wonder how much the K’s fund themselves, and how much comes from things like the HUD funding debacle, and the S&L crash. I also know — from AOL by admission only “game” rooms years ago, and from CNN discussion threads during the aftermath of the (USA Biowarfare staff created) Anthrax attacks — that there are enough paid rightist trolls around to use up a lot of cash.

    You want to do some literary investigative research? The history of science fiction, with emphasis on the publishers and financiers of sci fi magazines and books from the mid 30’s on; and on the personal relatioships of important writers and publishers, has potential for high yield paydirt. I wonder if Bruce Franklin at Rutgers might have anything to say to you about this.

  • 39. Hefner  |  March 6th, 2009 at 6:21 am

    Still no answer about why Megan McArdle backed down?

    Mighty suspicious.

  • 40. Doom  |  March 6th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    If I recall, McArdle was Jane Galt, not Jane Rand.

  • 41. poopsybythebay  |  March 8th, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Keep up the good work guys–we need the truth and seldom get it.

  • 42. AngryAmerican  |  April 13th, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Wow, some of you posting on here have potty mouths! My goodness. This is the left? So very glad I am an independent that leans right.

    Apparently you all enjoy paying for babies to be killed, mediocre schools, racial construction jobs & the next 10 generations of children being in debt.

    What the heck has this country come to? Then again, I wonder how many of you spouting off at the mouth about the right actually pay taxes????

  • 43. Brit  |  April 25th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Where were you guys to investigate the original Boston tea party?!

  • 44. NH  |  July 3rd, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    This is a ridiculous website.

    No one is being astroturfed except filthy liberals who took tons of ‘grassroots’ money from George Soros, convicted international criminal and nazi sympathiser.

  • 45. Beloved  |  March 17th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Santellis RL story told me he was a regular guy just like any middle class guy. It said that Brian Steele CNBCs lawyer gave Stewart a weeks cancel notice. Steele said the producer was fuming. LOL Santelli said he didn’t know who Jon Stewart was, and didn’t feel like it was apropriate to do a comedy show. I totally agree, and give him credit for not sucking up the Tea Parties positive momentum. He also was not sucking Koch as you said. Playboy had to retract the story, if it were true don’t you think it would be everywhere and not just linked by comments? The only way it can be repeated without getting in trouble. If there is any true in it, how about a reprint. I copied it before they had to take it down. Thinking of asking my lawyer if Santelli has a suit against Playboy, or anyone that reprints it as truth. Wonder how Vanity Fair would feel, if you did reprint/libel?Also giving Santelli a copy, he may just have the same idea.

  • 46. Beloved  |  March 17th, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Wow, can’t believe you read this crap, True/Slant more of the same hate mongering. The thing these sites have in common is the repetitive lies you turn into faux stories. But the dangerous thread is that you are affiliated with big publications. Taibbi is dangerous too, using race,to stir up anger, where I saw no racial issues. There is a name for sickos like you guys. P.S. How’s that Tea Party thing working for you a year later?

Leave a Comment

(Open to all. Comments can and will be censored at whim and without warning.)


Required, hidden

Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed