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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 05:10 PM ET, 05/24/2012

Daily Caller gives gun promotion a shot


Whatever your take on the Daily Caller, give them this: They know their audience. Not long after the conservative news site this morning announced a gun giveaway promotion, Publisher and CEO Neil Patel told me that ”thousands” of people had entered themselves as contestants. By 2:30 p.m., the site had recorded more than 6,000 entries.

That means that the Daily Caller has a bunch more e-mail addresses in its system. The site sells e-mail blasts to parties that want to reach its audience. (It doesn’t sell the database itself). Last November, for instance, it sent out a mass e-mail with the subject line: “Newt Gingrich Drawing Standing Ovations and Surging In Polls.”

The e-mail carried an important disclaimer, right at the top, indicating that the message was from “one of our advertisers, Newt 2012” and that it doesn’t “necessarily” represent “the opinion or editorial positions of The Daily Caller.” Fair enough.

Patel notes that the Daily Caller uses that blast list strategically, which is to say infrequently. “If we do this in a judicious way, I think [the readers will] accept it,” says Patel, noting that complaints from e-mail recipients — the “drop rates,” that is — have been low. (In subsequent weeks of the giveaway, the entry form will seek not e-mail addresses but other forms of reader interaction, such as signing up for the site’s social reader .)

The gun program, in which the Daily Caller will gift an “American-made high capacity 9mm” FMK9C1 every week until the general election in November, is a nice Daily Caller poke at its counterparts in the journalism establishment. Patel notes in a release, “Like most Americans outside Washington, DC, New York City and most of our nation’s news rooms, large numbers of Daily Caller readers love guns.” Patel himself owns a shotgun and notes that a “bunch” of staffers also own a firearm of one sort or another.

The FMK9C1 carries custom qualities for the politically motivated heat packer. It comes engraved with the Bill of Rights, is available in one of three colors and is designed by James V. Pontillo II, who proposed the idea of a giveaway to the Daily Caller as a good means of promoting the website and his gun business, FMK Firearms.

Pontillo churns out both handguns and the political rhetoric that’s often associated with their protection and promotion. In this Human Events piece, for instance, he writes that “Barack Obama and his minions have been making proclamations right from Mao Tse-Tung.” In this Human Events piece, he writes, “It is just inescapable that patriotism in America is identified by those who love the American Flag, the 4th of July, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and even that pesky 2nd Amendment which guarantees government keep its dirty fingers off our arms.”

Looking for more extreme specimens? In what Media Matters calls an example of “casual racism,” Pontillo writes in a blog post, “I am looking forward to [Obama’s] inaugural address where the “coolest” “rock-star” Commander-In-Chief we’ve ever had wows us all by doing a fly-by around the newly repainted “Black House” and lands softly at the podium using nothing but those big ears for the flight.” And here he dismisses Barack Obama’s chances of becoming president because “that job requires he represent all Americans, not just the angry black ones.”

Strangeness arose when I reached out to chat with Pontillo about the giveaway and his writings. An official with FMK Firearms said Pontillo was not in the building and directed me to request an interview by sending my journalistic credentials to the company via U.S. Postal Service, Bill-of-Rights style. E-mail apparently not an option. I’ll be headed to the WaPo mailroom following completion of this item.

Though Pontillo’s writerly excesses may not make him an unassailable giveaway partner for the Daily Caller, consider this: How many politically correct Bill of Rights-engraving U.S.-based firearms entrepreneurs are out there to choose from?

When asked about its partner’s racier opinions, the Daily Caller responded, “All that’s germane to the contest is that he’s a fully licensed firearms manufacturer. If we were giving away iPads, the political views of Apple would also be irrelevant.”

By  |  05:10 PM ET, 05/24/2012

 
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