In the September issue of Townhall Magazine, where this article originally appeared, S.E. Cupp explains why the Left still doesn't understand Sarah Palin's connection to real Americans.
The mainstream, or “lamestream” as she would say, media was so quick to dismiss Sarah Palin’s latest venture, you could almost smell the paranoia.
Bruce Handy at Vanity Fair wrote a scathing review titled “I watched Sarah Palin’s channel so you don’t have to.”
Stephen Colbert chided, “It’s exactly what she’s always done only, mmm, nothing else.”
And her Twitter deriders quickly generated mock names for potential shows on the network, including “Two and Half Moose,” (you know, because she’s from Alaska) and “The Big Bang Theory Is False,” (you know, because she’s Christian). A blogger named @PoliticalLine tweeted, “’I am so excited for the Sarah Palin internet channel.’ –No one with a life.” Ooh, burn.
But the Left has dismissed Palin ever since she emerged. Maureen Dowd famously nicknamed her “Caribou Barbie” just after she burst onto the scene in 2008 as John McCain’s running mate (try to overlook the glaring irony that progressive, feminist Dowd was mocking Palin’s rural roots and good looks by giving her a demeaning and sexist moniker).
And despite her massive fan base, more than 4 million likes on Facebook, and 1 million Twitter followers, it’s as if the Left thinks they can get rid of her simply by willing it to be so.
Just two weeks before she announced the Sarah Palin Channel, an MSNBC story called “Palin’s Big Flame-Out” declared her politically dead.
As unserious, irrelevant, and stupid as the liberal media insists Sarah Palin is, they sure do spend a disproportionate amount of time paying attention to her every move. And all the overcompensating can’t totally mask the fear that Palin’s new online network might actually be something.
It’s not all that impossible to imagine that an engaging and provocative political voice with an active media platform and vocal fan base would find success in creating her own media outlet. Just like Arianna Huffington, the late Andrew Breitbart, and Glenn Beck have proven, there is a real market for alternative media.
And as an employee of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, a subscription-based network and model similar to Palin’s, I can tell you there is real currency in being able to capitalize on cult of personality, if it’s married with smart, incisive content that fills legitimate gaps in the marketplace. In its first year, the network gained 300,000 subscribers and generated more than $40 million in revenue.
Not only does Palin have the opportunity to deliver her unique perspectives to users who genuinely want it, but she is offering something that millennials in particular demand of their media experience and which most politicos have yet to harness: access and interactivity.
In announcing the network she encouraged a dialogue with her subscribers. “I want you to talk directly to me. That’s what I’m most anxious about, hearing from you.”
The channel will host online chat groups and she asks for users to post videos and pose questions, and she promises to engage. “Let’s go rogue together and launch our own member supported channel! This will be OUR channel, for you and me, and we’ll all get to call it like it is.”
If you’re a Palin fan, that kind of personalized experience, if it really is one, is invaluable.
But let’s also be clear about the other reason Palin and her new venture confound her detractors in the liberal media: the Left is contemptuous of Palin’s celebrity because it’s come without all the guile and defenses that their superstars have made famous.
For all the social media prowess President Obama has employed, it’s hard to imagine another politician being more opaque and less accessible, both to the public and the press. And Hillary Clinton, his appointed successor, has made a cottage industry of keeping elusive and out of reach. And her big idea to launch a presidential campaign, thus far, has been this ultra-modern new-fangled technology called...a book tour (and not a very successful one). Next to Palin, Clinton’s use of the media looks practically Jurassic.
Now, there’s hardly any guarantees that the Sarah Palin Channel will be successful. Even Oprah’s network lost $330 million in its first year. It’s uncertain whether people will pay $9.95 a month, more than a Netflix subscription as it’s been pointed out, to see Palin prognosticate.
But it’s not up to the Left or the liberal media to decide. It will be up to her and her fans. And I wouldn’t count them out just yet. •
S.E. Cupp is author of “Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity.” She has a weekly column in the New York Daily News and is a co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire.”