In June 2010, half a dozen rich donors came to Drew Ryun, a former Republican National Committee staffer, with the kind of question a dyed-in-the-wool operative like himself could only dream about. "If you had X number of dollars," he recalls the donors saying, "what would you do that the conservative movement does not have?"
Conservatives have their think tanks, dozens of them at the state and national level. They also have a corporate-funded legislation mill in the American Legislative Exchange Council. What conservatives lacked, Ryun told the donors, were nimble attack blogs that could quickly capitalize on the latest missteps by big-government politicians or the "liberal" media—essentially hard-hitting, opposition-research-style shops that prize scoops, speed, and scandal over policy briefs and press conferences.