This is tough.

The conservative blogging world is a small place, so I have good friends who were recently blindsided by the layoffs at RedState, and many who still have a job. My thoughts are with them all. Neither side of this situation is easy.

Friday, news broke that RedState, owned by Salem Media, the same outfit that owns sites like Townhall and HotAir, endured massive layoffs.

If you listen to the rumors, they’ll tell you only the vocal Trump critics were cut in favor of those more pro-Trump. There are a handful of staunch Trump critics remaining at RedState, enough to prove this supposition false.

But at CNN Money writes, the layoffs were likely about money more than anything else:

RedState writers work on contract and are paid based on the amount of traffic to their posts.

“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 one of the sources said on condition of anonymity.

“Of those who make less under their contracts, they mostly tossed those who had been openly critical of the president,” the source said. “It seems to have been a cost saving measure, but the deciding factor between any two people seems to have been who liked the president and who didn’t.”

Salem had no immediate comment. But an internal memo obtained by CNNMoney confirmed the housecleaning.

“We had to make some tough changes to RedState today,” Townhall general manager Jonathan Garthwaite wrote in the 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.”

RedState, a 13-year-old blog that was founded by Erick Erickson, is one of several sites in Townhall Media’s portfolio. Townhall, in turn, is owned by Salem Media Group, a conservative media company that also operates radio stations and publishes books.

Erick Erickson, one of RedState’s founders, opened his new web home to RedState bloggers who got the ax Friday.

The site name will linger, but RedState is all but dead now. I have invited the fired writers here.

When RedState started in 2004, it was about collaborating between all sides of the GOP and, after I took over, had a real grassroots focus. Since the Salem purchase of Eagle Publishing, the grassroots focus went away as did the community building aspect in favor of clickbait with analysis.

Thankfully, Salem is retaining some very good writers who have long been at RedState, but today engaged in a mass purge of most of the writers.

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. 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.

…It is unfortunate, but the reality is that Salem never had any idea what to do with RedState and it was very obvious. It is one of the many reasons I chose to retire from the site after a ten year run as editor. They’ve really stopped driving a conversation among conservatives in the past few years as they turned to clickbait and now will really just be a clickbait site it seems.

That is unfortunate. It is also one reason I wanted to start rebuilding a community here. Readers are welcome, and the RedState community is welcome. Anyone can create an account and start writing, and we hope our focus will be less on clickbait stories and more on a resurgent conservatism not tied to cults of personality.

RedState was unique in that anyone could start their own page under RedState’s umbrella. The community-focus made it a special spot in the conservative blogosphere. Those communities and grassroots coordination so important and prevalent in the Obama era have slowly fallen by the wayside. Social media has filled some of that gap. But the conservative blogosphere that blossomed and peaked during the Obama years is rapidly shrinking.

It’s a brave new internet world out there. The whole digital space, social media and all, is in the midst of a metamorphosis. I have no idea how the dice will land, but in the meantime, we will keep blogging, or feeding the blog beast as we like to say around here, and hope it doesn’t swallow us too.