Stupid Politico Watch: The Huckabee Email Cancer Cure
By Ken Magill
Boy, email sure does enable some seriously stupid behavior, especially from politicians.
GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee last week defended renting out his email file to sellers of quack cures for cancer and doing an online infomercial for a dubious diabetes treatment involving cinnamon pills.
As reported in the New York Times earlier this year:
“One ad arriving in January in the inboxes of Huckabee supporters, who signed up for his political commentaries at MikeHuckabee.com, claims there is a miracle cure for cancer hidden in the Bible. The ad links to a lengthy Internet video, which offers a booklet about the so-called Matthew 4 Protocol. It is ‘free’ with a $72 subscription to a health newsletter.
“Although a disclaimer on the emails says Mr. Huckabee does not endorse these products, that might not be enough to dissociate him, as a future presidential aspirant, from their claims, which are designed to pry open the wallets of small-donor conservatives, some of whom distrust mainstream sources of information.”
Some of whom? There’s not a conservative in America who trusts anything that could be considered a “mainstream” source of information.
In any case, last week CNN host Jake Tapper asked Huckabee if he lost credibility by allowing peddlers of dubious cancer cures access to his email file and by pitching nonsense diabetes cures.
“I never signed that letter,” Huckabee said of the email selling cancer cures. “It’s a huge email list that I developed over many years. And we did, in fact, rent it out to entities.”
“But my gosh, that’s like saying, you run some ads on CNN, do you personally agree with all the ads that run on CNN? I doubt you do,” he continued. “I’m sure there’s some for maybe, I don’t know, catheters or adult diapers, they’re not products you use or you necessarily believe in. I don’t hold you responsible for that.”
There’s a big difference between network advertising and email. Tapper is not CNN. No one believes he necessarily endorses everything advertised there.
On Huckabee’s email list, however, he is the brand. So it’s not unreasonable to believe that when his supporters get an email endorsing a biblical cancer remedy, he is personally endorsing it.
At the very least, Huckabee is accepting money from unseemly marketers who believe his supporters are stupid enough to risk their health on quackery. And maybe they are. But that doesn’t mean Huckabee should participate in the exploitation.
The so-called diabetes cures particularly frost me. I have diabetes. I have done the work to get it under control, including having dropped more than 60 pounds in the last two years. Lately, I have taken to splitting my own firewood by hand just for the workout. I am finally off insulin.
I miss bagels. I miss pancakes. I miss the hell out of French toast. Man, I miss French toast. But I know there is nothing in any online pitch that will ever let me eat French toast again.
That Huckabee would rent his email file to charlatans who would take suckers’ money and lead them to believe that they can find a cure for their cancer in the bible is unconscionable as is lending his name to bullshit diabetes dietary supplements.
Email messaging is an intimate extension of the list owner’s brand. Even broadcast messages are personal to recipients. No disclaimer can disassociate the brand from the message.
I have turned down advertisers because their business models have been too far out of alignment with the Magill Report brand. Believe me, it is never easy to say “no” to fast money.
But no matter what Huckabee claims, he has pitched quackery and the perception of his brand should reflect that.
Every email message brands the list owner in one way or another. And every email message should be treated that way.
[Note to readers: Please keep the political comments to yourselves. This piece has nothing to do with political policy.]