Salem Media Group 375

In what’s being called a “mass firing,” Salem Media Group on Friday dismissed a squadron of RedState bloggers, temporarily freezing the influential conservative site. Conservative critics of President Donald Trump were targeted in the cuts, according to multiple published reports. "They fired everybody who was insufficiently supportive of Trump," a source told CNNMoney, adding, "how do you define being 'sufficiently supportive' of Trump?"

But the cutbacks also appear to be a cost-saving measure. Salem reportedly pays RedState writers based on the amount of traffic their stories generate. "Those who had been under a contract with a higher per-click rate were mostly all tossed, only keeping those who were pro-Trump even if their traffic was comparable," another source told CNNMoney. "Of those who make less under their contracts, they mostly tossed those who had been openly critical of the president," the source said.

This rationale was also suggested by Erick Erickson, the radio host who co-founded RedState and left the site in 2015 to focus on his work for Cox Media Group. “My understanding from the writers is that there were two contracts, one more expensive than the other. Most of those on the expensive contracts were tossed, though some very good ones will stay," Erickson wrote in a blog post. "Of those under the cheaper contracts, it seems the dividing line was loyalty to the President. In fact, among those under the expensive contracts, I'm aware of some writers having near equal traffic generation, and those insufficiently loyal to the President were fired," he added.

In a memo obtained by CNN, a Salem executive confirmed the changes were made with the bottom line in mind. "We had to make some tough changes to RedState today," Jonathan Garthwaite, general manager of Salem’s Townhall conservative news website, said in an internal memo. "While these changes are painful, they were necessary once we reached the conclusion that we could no longer support the entire roster of writers and editors."

Salem bought RedState from Eagle Publishing in 2014.