The American Independent (TAI) is an online platform formerly known as Shareblue Media, which in turn had grown out of Blue Nation Review (BNR), a pro-Democrat website promoting left-wing agendas by means of news articles, personal essays, investigative reports, videos, and graphics. Founded in 2014, BNR was particularly effusive in its praise of Hillary Clinton, as evidenced by a January 2016 piece titled “Hillary Clinton Is One of the Most Ethical (and Most Lied About) Political Leaders in America.” In 2015 David Brock, a former-conservative-turned-leftist, purchased BNR for the purpose of developing it into a progressive media outlet that spoke directly to grass roots Americans, who were, in Brock’s estimation, “avidly and unabashedly pro-Hillary.” Toward that end, in September 2016 Brock rebranded BNR as Shareblue, and he positioned it to supplement the pro-Democrat efforts of his other major enterprises, namely American Bridge 21st Century, Media Matters for America, and Correct The Record. To achieve this goal, Brock decided to bring his own people aboard; thus he terminated most of BNR’s existing staff by December 1, 2016.
Shareblue first outlined its leading objectives in a 44-page confidential memo that set the agenda for a January 2017 conference at the luxurious Turnberry Isle resort in Aventura, Florida, where David Brock addressed some 120 wealthy Democratic donors and tried to map out a course of action by which leftists could effectively “kick [the new Republican President] Donald Trump’s ass” during the ensuing four years. Specifically, the memo indicated that Brock’s plan was to use Shareblue as the “dynamic nucleus of a multi-platform media company that informs, engages, and arms Americans” so that they may “engage in partisan combat” designed to “delegitimize Donald Trump’s presidency.” Toward that end, Shareblue resolved to “frame opposition research from American Bridge and other progressive groups, as well as leaks and intel from Democrats on House and Senate committees,” and “disseminate it” – in a “punchy, emotive style” – “directly to our followers in a daily inline persuasion campaign.”
The memo further revealed that Shareblue would aim to “expose Trump allies and collaborators” by having its “factual news stories repeated in Democratic communications and paid political ads.” In so doing, said the memo, the left would merely be copying what “the right has done … effectively (though deceptively) for years” to “br[ing] down progressive organizations and damag[e] Democrats.” In addition, Shareblue vowed to “both weaponize oppo research and perfect its delivery system” in order to counter the “influx of Republican campaigns and candidates citing bogus news stories from online smear merchants such as the Washington Free Beacon or Breitbart in political ads and communication.”
In the memo, Shareblue identified its top editorial priorities as follows:
Shareblue also indicated that the American Independent Institute, which had been taken over by Brock in 2014, would award, on Shareblue’s behalf, grants to fund the efforts of “top investigative journalists to cover, expose and damage the Trump administration and its allies.”
In the aforementioned memo, Shareblue reported that its website had drawn 162 million unique viewers during the second half of 2016 – a 50 percent increase over the preceding 6 months.
At the start of 2017, Shareblue set its operating budget for that year at $2 million – enough to pay for a staff of eighteen people, including six full-time content producers. The organization also planned to move as quickly as possible toward hiring an executive editor, bringing in a part-time producer to rebuild its video content program, hiring a digital manager to optimize its social media presence, and increasing its budget for freelance writers by 50 percent.
In January 2017, Shareblue announced its plan to develop a premium service where subscribers would pay a fee to participate in a Twitter-like forum open only to leftists and progressives. By Brock’s telling, such an ideological echo chamber would provide “a powerful way of merging our connection to the grassroots with our platform.”
Shareblue’s overarching objectives, as spelled out in the 44-page memo, were to become “the go-to news outlet” for “grassroots Trump opponents” and “opposition leaders”; to force “Trump allies … to step down or change course due to news we push”; and to embolden Congressional Democrats to “take more aggressive positions against Trump.” Brock, for his part, said he hoped to build Shareblue into “the Breitbart of the left.”
Around November 2019, Shareblue Media changed its name to The American Independent.
Further Reading: “Hillary Clinton Is One of the Most Ethical (and Most Lied About) Political Leaders in America” (by Peter Daou, January 2016); “David Brock’s Shareblue to Be ‘Nucleus’ of Multi-Platform Anti-Trump Media Entity” (Washington Free Beacon, 2-24-2017); “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Outrage Machine, Allies Push the Buttons” (NY Times, 9-22-2016); “Sale Of Blue Nation Review Gives Hillary Clinton Camp Its Very Own Media Outlet” (Huffington Post, 12-3-2015); “David Brock’s Share Blue Plan To Delegitimize Trump” (the 44-page memo that set the agenda for the January 2017 conference); “David Brock Is Ready to Monetize the Resistance” (NYMag.com, 1-13-2017); “David Brock Plans Paid-For Twitter Rival Exclusively for Liberals” (by Jack Hadfield, 1-26-2017, re: premium service).