The National Republican Congressional Committee recently took some flack for its redesigned web site, which now includes catchy stories like "13 Animals That Are Really Bummed on ObamaCare's Third Birthday" and "How House Republicans Are Saving More Taxpayer Money — In One CHIF (Chart Made of a GIF)." But it's not the only one pushing the GOP toward a Buzzfeed-esque online future.
The Heritage Foundation – an influential, conservative think tank based in Washington – has been running a memeified Pinterest page for over a year, sometimes with rather unexpected results.
Last year, for example, the socially conservative group pinned a photo of Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., a.k.a "the shirtless Congressman – a photo that originally came from SquareHippies.com, a web site devoted to posting photos of half-naked men for visitors both gay and straight.
Ericka Andersen, who runs social media for Heritage, told Whispers she was unaware of the photo's origins and was just looking for a photo of Schock on Pinterest to add to the group's "Conservative Men" board.
And like the NRCC, the group has embraced memes too. During last year's budget debate, Heritage – which preaches sexual abstinence – pinned an image of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., that came from political gossip site NakedDC.com, which has a slogan not repeatable here. "Hey girl, I had a dream about you last night. We were cutting the budget. It got pretty intense," the caption read. Several weeks later, Heritage pinned a photo of Ryan with a caption that Slate blogger Matt Yglesias pointed out was actually a BDSM joke: "Hey girl. I was hoping we could try some fiscal discipline tonight. If you were into that sort of thing." Both images were pinned to a board on the Heritage page called "Fun."
"Memes naturally came into play because they're so popular these days," Anderson says of the Ryan photos, adding that some of what is posted on the Heritage's social media feeds would not be approved for Heritage.org.