RedState, Part of ‘Christian Content’ Salem Media, Publishes Revenge Porn

The conservative blog RedState published revenge porn of Rep. Katie Hill on Oct. 18, in the so-called name of journalism and exposing “a person in power who used that power for sexual satisfaction.” The freshman Democratic lawmaker from California announced her resignation on Sunday.

“This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation,” Hill wrote in her resignation letter.

RedState published a redacted topless photo of Hill in a link to their story, with the text, “Click to view image — Warning: Explicit Image,” followed by a claim that they could have published more images. “RedState was also provided with intimate photographs of the women, which we have chosen not to publish,” Jen Van Laar, Red State’s deputy managing editor who authored the story, wrote.

Along with the revenge porn, RedState reported that Hill had engaged in a relationship with a campaign staffer—which Hill has admitted to—and repeated her estranged husband’s accusation that she engaged in another relationship with her legislative director—which would violate House rules and which Hill denies. Hill, who is in the middle of a divorce, has said that her estranged husband is abusive.

RedState has published a series of articles on Hill with titillating headlines, presumably designed to appeal to their older male audience, such as “Bisexual Rep. Katie Hill Allegedly Left Her Husband For Her (Male) Legislative Director” and “Katie Hill Paid Alleged (Male) Lover A Campaign Win Bonus; Stiffed Throuple Partner.”

RedState’s editor-at-large Kira Davis defended the outlet’s publication of revenge porn, claiming “the powers-that-be decided it was important that there was solid evidence of the relationship(s) that may have violated House ethics.” But the outlet had already published text messages detailing a relationship between Hill and a campaign staffer. It is unclear what purpose the intimate photo serves other than to demean Hill.

Davis also couldn’t help but offer some unsolicited, blame-the-victim advice. “Whatever your opinion of our decision to run with the story, let me dispense a little unsolicited advice to anyone out there who may be heading towards a Katie Hill-style crash and burn of their own,” she wrote. “Don’t take nudes on your phone.”

In another post, RedState’s senior editor Joe Cunningham accused news outlets of not giving Van Laar credit for breaking the story about the affair and criticized their focus on the publication of revenge porn. Cunningham, in fact, thinks his outlet showed restraint.

“The use of certain images, while holding back on more scandalous ones, showed editorial restraint many outlets seem to have forgotten – that you can post enough to show something happened without posting too much and losing the point of the story,” Cunningham wrote.

RedState operates under the umbrella of Townhall Media, an affiliate of Salem Media Group, which claims to have “successfully reached audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content and conservative values,” for over 40 years. Salem has more than 2,700 radio affiliates in addition to its national radio advertising sales force, Salem Web Network, an “Internet provider of Christian content and online streaming,” and Salem Publishing, which publishes Christian-themed magazines.

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