Born in 1964, Jerome Armstrong attended Harding University from 1983-87 before earning two degrees from Portland State University: a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Philosophy (1989), and an MS in Applied Linguistics as well as Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution (2002). As a young adult, Armstrong served with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica and …
Born in 1964, Jerome Armstrong attended Harding University from 1983-87 before earning two degrees from Portland State University: a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Philosophy (1989), and an MS in Applied Linguistics as well as Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution (2002).
As a young adult, Armstrong served with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica and Sierra Leone. He was also an environmental activist who was repeatedly arrested for participating in disruptive protests with EarthFirst! and Greenpeace in the late 1980s. Armstrong subsequently spent a year-and-a-half meditating extensively in Buddhist monasteries. In the early 1990s he worked as a field organizer in Portland, Oregon.
In 2002 Armstrong collaborated with Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and Tyler Bleszinski to co-found Vox Media, an online media firm with more than 330 websites and verticals in sports, technology, and gaming.
In May 2002 Armstrong launched a grassroots website for Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean. Over the course of the next two years, Armstrong was a key architect of the Dean campaign’s online efforts (such as advertising and blogger outreach).
In 2006, Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga co-authored Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics. This book impugned the Democratic Party for its antiquated methods and its ineffectiveness in seizing the reins of government away from the GOP. It also condemned Republican ideologues who, according to the authors, were ruining the United States on every level – political, social, and economic. Armstrong himself coined the word “netroots” to describe, as NBC News put it, “a 21st century version of the grassroots, door-to-door, union-local politics that used to work so well for the Democrats in the last century.”
Because of his work as a mentor to a number of young bloggers (like Zuniga), Armstrong earned the nickname “The BlogFather.”
In 2006 Armstrong began working on the 2008 presidential campaign of Virginia’s ex-governor Mark Warner, which ultimately was unsuccessful.
On August 8, 2008, Armstrong agreed to pay nearly $30,000 in fines in a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations that in 2000 he had publicly touted the stock of a software company (an Internet bulletin board called Raging Bull) without disclosing that he was being paid to do so. Under the agreement, Armstrong neither denied nor admitted to the charges against him.
Also in 2008, Armstrong was involved in a “pay-for-play” scheme whereby, as Buzzfeed.com explains, “a range of mainstream American publications printed paid propaganda for the [highly repressive] government of Malaysia, much of it focused on the campaign against a pro-democracy figure there.” The major player in this scheme was the conservative pundit Joshua Trevino, who received $389,724.70 from the Malaysian government, its ruling party, or interests closely aligned with either of those entities. Armstrong, for his part, violated federal law by not reporting his Malaysia-related activities to the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which “requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.”
Over the course of his professional career, Armstrong has worked as a consultant for more than 40 American and international political campaigns.