Charles Johnson (Little Green Footballs founder) and Roger Simon created Pajamas Media together in a self-congratulatory media frenzy several years ago. There was much talk about how PJM would become THE address for the conservative blog world. Readers and advertisers would pour in. Jewish entrepreneurs Aubrey Chernick and Jim Koshland sank $7 million into the venture with big expectations. They also recruited a few liberal bloggers like David Corn and Marc Cooper to give them a veneer of bi-partisanship though I note that both of them are gone.
I don’t know enough about their business model (Dennis would say “what business model?!”) to say whether the project succeeded or failed. Alexa ranks the site 51,000 which, while being semi-respectable doesn’t come near ranking of the liberal media news sites Huffington Post (3,000) or Talking Points Memo (21,000), the conservative Drudge Report (1,000), or the centrist Politico (12,000). But the truth is that aside from Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs they never attracted the big name right-wing bloggers that might’ve brought them the readers they expected.
From Dennis the Peasant, the blogger scourge of the PJM enterprise, comes the welcome news that Johnson has stepped down (or been booted) from PJM management responsibilities. Dennis speculates that Johnson’s wild-eyed antics as political bomb-thrower have not endeared him to the VC investors Chernick and Koshland:
I have a feeling that it has finally started to dawn on those same venture capitalists that Little Green Footballs, and therefore Chaz, wasn’t exactly enhancing their reputations amongst the sane folk of the world. If you know what I mean. Charles and LGF have always been out there, it’s just that now they’re both so far out there that it can’t really be ignored anymore.
This begs the question if LGF and Johnson embarrass PJM why do they continue to carry his blog at all? Why not just sever ties cleanly? Could it be that LGF’s Alexa ranking of 25,000 has a lot to do with that? Most PJM bloggers rank far lower than PJM itself. LGF and Michelle Malkin are among the only bloggers with a higher ranking than PJM, much higher. So I’m guessing that PJM can’t afford to lose the readers than LGF provides to pump up the site stats for advertisers.
The only thing that would make me happier to know that Johnson has been booted from the PJM pantheon is to read PJM’s death notice.
Now a word on Chernick and Koshland. Chernick is worth approximately $845 million (according to the L.A. Business Journal 2007 listings) after selling his Candle Corp. computer company to IBM and starting a disaster preparedness company, NC4. He also started a venture capital firm, Ignition Capital LLC. Pajamas Media is clearly very small potatoes for Chernick.
As of 2000, he was a trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an AIPAC-affiliated pro-Israel think tank. He is listed as a “Visionary Partner” in Stand With Us’s 2007 fundraising diner program. SWU is a stridently pro-Israel advocacy group which, among other things, features Rachel Neuwirth harpie-buddy Alyson Rowen Taylor among its staff. Chernick was the dinner chair for the American Freedom Alliance, a group devoted to fighting anti-Americanism including among Muslims. Safe to say that Chernick harbors strong right-wing pro-Israel views. I think my original suspicion that PJM deliberately chose to feature harshly pro-Israel blogs among its founding partners is borne out in Chernick’s own personal views on Israeli politics.
Jim Koshland is a partner in DLA Piper, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm. He is a scion of San Francisco’s wealthiest Jewish family which founded Levi Strauss. Though the Koshlands are known for having liberal politics, I’m guessing that Chernick is the guiding force behind the PJM investment. Personally, I don’t see what Koshland gets out of associating with this project except an opportunity to partner with Chernick in future deals.