Subscribers to the paleoconservative magazine the American Conservative had their personal credit card information and mailing addresses emailed out to dozens of other customers on Tuesday, an apparent glitch in the magazine’s subscription auto-renewal system.
An associate editor said he was not aware of the problem when contacted Tuesday morning, but that it was “very concerning” and the magazine would be looking into it.
The disclosure of personal subscriber informations comes at a time when the magazine has taken a strongly pro-Edward Snowden editorial line, publishing columns in support of the former NSA contractor whose leak of intelligence sources and methods has dealt a harsh blow to U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
The emails were addressed to individual subscribers but sent to dozens of email addresses.
“We want to let you know that we will renew your subscription to the American Conservative (1-year auto-renewal),” the emails read. “If the information below is correct, no action is required, and your subscription will continue without interruption.”
The messages include the last four digits the subscribers’ credit card numbers, their names, and their shipping addresses.
As of Tuesday morning, the Washington Free Beacon had seen more than 20 of these emails.
"What are you doing sending my info to all these people?" one angry subscriber replied to the mass email. "And their information to me? Please discontinue my subscriptoin and remove me from any mailings."
This is the latest hitch in a difficult year for the American Conservative, which has slashed its production schedule and bunked offices with the left-leaning American Prospect as part of a cost-cutting revamp effort.
The Washington Free Beacon reported last November that the Patrick Buchanan-founded magazine had seen its circulation drop in 2013 to an average of just over 6,000 subscribers per issue.
It also parted ways with its long-time publisher Ron Unz last summer. Unz told the Free Beacon he clashed with leadership over financial issues and an alleged decline in website traffic.
The magazine has recently taken to supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an essay for the January 2014 issue headlined “Russia's right turn: Moscow has reclaimed its 19th-century conservative role,” William Lind argued, “American conservatives should welcome the resurgence of a conservative Russia” under President Putin, who has passed laws against gay “propaganda.”
The American Conservative also published a pro-Putin column in December by Buchanan, who founded the magazine in 2002.
“While much of American and Western media dismiss him as an authoritarian and reactionary, a throwback, Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans still caught up in a Cold War paradigm,” Buchanan wrote.
Calls to the American Conservative’s customer service line were unanswered, and editor Daniel McCarthy did not immediately return a request for comment.
Update: Editor Daniel McCarthy said the emails were sent by the magazine's vendor, and they were working to resolve the problem.
"As you might imagine, weather conditions across the country are slowing everything down," said McCarthy. "The vendor that sent the emails is closed for the day. From what we can determine, however, a time-selected subset of automatic-renewal subscribers received messages that included the email addresses of some other subscribers from the same subset. We'll know full details soon."