The Thinker: Rich Galen


The definition of the word mull.
Mullings by Rich Galen ®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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A Third Decade

Rich Galen

Monday March 12, 2017

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  • Today marks the beginning of the third decade - THIRD DECADE - of Mullings.

  • It began as a marketing tool for Newt's Political Action Committee, GOPAC, on March 11, 1998. Mullings was distributed as what was called a "blast fax." It was 500 words (instead of the later 750 words) because I could get 500 words on one page.

  • As I remember, it cost 25 cents per page to send to the fax broadcaster. If the column ran over just one extra line, it was another 25 cents.

  • Mullings first went to Washington-based reporters as a way to get through their defenses. Newt, as you might remember, was not the press corps' favorite political figure and I used to tease them that whenever they typed the five letters G.O.P.A.C. their workstation immediately spit out:
    "which has been at the center of Speaker Gingrich's political woes since 1789,"

  • That wasn't true, of course, but it more-or-less worked.

  • By late 1998, Mullings was being requested by GOPAC donors, by Hill staff, in addition to journalists. At some $1,200 per month, sending it out to four or five hundred recipients three times per week was becoming a drain on GOPAC's bank account.

  • Happily, at about that same time, email as we know it today, was becoming almost ubiquitous. It was a lot cheaper to send 500 emails than 500 blast-faxes so we made that change. Also, it didn't cost any more to send a 750-word column than it did to send a 500-word column.

  • To demonstrate how far we've come, after I send the final faxed version of Mullings - which included a request for an email address to the recipient - I got a call from the assistant of a well-known journalist: Tim Russert.

  • She said that Mr. Russert didn't use email (remember this is 1998) but asked if she could have Mullings sent to her email address and she would print it out for him.

  • I said that would be fine and please to tell Mr. Russert that I still considered him one of the great journalists of the 19th century.

  • Speaking of Meet the Press, when I left GOPAC and was allowed to take Mullings with me, I was looking for a distribution channel.

  • There was a well-known political publication titled "Hotline." It's editor-in-chief was a guy named Chuck Todd. Yes, that Chuck Todd.

  • I went in to visit with Chuck and explained what I wanted to do. He said it was interesting, but he'd have to find someone to write the other side of whatever issue I was dealing with.

  • I said, "I'll write both sides."

  • Chuck paused for the briefest millisecond and said, "Nah. Everyone will know it's you."

  • Over time the email list has grown to, and stabilized at, about 20,000 people - some drift off (or send angry "Unsubscribe" demands), others join.

  • Since then with a few breaks in service - Cardiac bypass surgery, Iraq, Senate duty, etc. - Mullings has come out three (later two) times per week:

  • During the 2000 campaign (George W. vs Gore) I was writing for and was often the only reporter in the press section that was on-line only. I begged to be let into "pool" situations to cover Gore or Bush for on-line readers.

  • Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not, but it is certainly different today when virtually every reporter has an on-line presence either exclusively or in addition to their home outlet.

  • I used to bristle when someone called Mullings a "blog." The word "blog" is a contraction of the term "web log," and I felt that a "blog" was published at random times and was of random length. Mullings used to come out Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (now Mondays and Thursdays) and was the same length as a newspaper column.

  • I'm over it now.

  • If you've been there from the start (like my three anchor sponsors, The Tarrance Group, Focus Data Solutions, and Campaign Solutions) you've followed my thinking through the administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.

  • Pretty interesting reflections of contemporary America during their terms when you think about it.

  • In the early days the header contained the definition of "Mull" which was
    Mull v. (1) to consider; to ponder. (2) to add spice as to wine or cider

  • Let's shoot for another 10.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the 10th Anniversary Mullings.

    The Mullfoto is a license plate via Mullster Troy Zimmerman.

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