For Republicans, ‘Benghazi’ Is Premium Online Real Estate

The Republican Party is now in the web domain name business, but certain slices of online real estate are too precious to sell for cheap.

The Republican State Leadership Committee went live this week with a plan that’s been in the works for some time, inviting “candidates, elected officials, bloggers, volunteers, activists, companies and media organizations” to register domains ending with “.gop.”

“This week, for the first time in history, a political party runs its own domain on the Internet,” the announcement read.

It’s also a milestone that’s spawned plenty of trolling. As Gawker’s Adam Weinstein highlighted, it didn’t take long for pranksters on Twitter to check the availability of various domain names that are made particularly ridiculous with “GOP” appended to the URL.

One Twitter user discovered that for a mere $20.16, the standard price for the domain names, you could have been the proud owner of “mandatorysharialaw.gop.” The same amount could have bought you “freeabortions.gop.”

Neither of those domains are available any longer and, even amid the trolling, Twitter users came across certain URLs that weren’t for sale.

Were the Republicans pre-empting the pranksters by making some names off limits?

Will Martinez, vice president of sales and marketing at .GOP, provided TPM with a statement outlining the party’s domain name policy.

Like all domains, there are limitless word combinations to be found on .gop. Some are premium names, typically generic names that receive significant web traffic, and pricing will reflect this status through an algorithm. Some names are blocked through ICANN, often trademarks, some countries, and even random words. Other names are unavailable as a reflection of our terms of use that state offensive or abusive content will not be tolerated.

It’s clear that “mandatorysharialaw” and “freeabortions” were eventually slotted into the “offensive or abusive content” category, but a word that’s been uttered nonstop by Republicans for nearly two years might be out of reach, too.

If you had hopes of owning “Benghazi.gop,” you better be ready to pony up the cash.

Jill Bader, the communications director for RSLC, confirmed to TPM in an email that the Benghazi domain is just too valuable to make available too easily.

“Nope, no one owns this,” Bader wrote in an email on Wednesday. “This domain on our premium list and those names are not available for online registration.”

But cheer up: there’s still plenty of trolling to go around.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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