When the famed businessman and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain passed away last month, his daughter wrote a heartfelt tribute on his website pledging that the conservative folk hero’s family would continue promoting his message.
About halfway down the page, readers were presented with a yes-or-no survey question: “Are you glad Herman’s team will keep his vision alive?” Fine print below the poll noted that those who completed it—and provided their email addresses as required—would be added to mailing lists run by a conservative news website called The Western Journal.
It was a glimpse into the conservative media and marketing apparatus that sprouted up to monetize Cain’s brand after his unsuccessful 2012 presidential run. And it helps explain why, even after Cain died last month after contracting COVID-19, social media accounts bearing his name have indulged right-wing critics of efforts to combat the virus’ spread. Cain himself may have