It is an inerrant fact that anything billed as "The conservative take on / version of _________" is going to be hilariously, perhaps even spectacularly, shit. The Half-Hour News Hour. Conservapedia. Qube TV. Pajamas Media. Conservative punk bands. Michael Steele. Take your pick, as they all have in common that special is-this-serious quality that, frankly, liberals can't do. And they all follow the same pattern: they make a lot of noise, the real media pay them a disproportionate amount of attention lest they be accused of "bias", and then the product in question quietly dies when the gawkers and snickering hipsters have disappeared.
When I first heard that Tucker Carlson was at long last establishing a presence on the internet – in related news, he has finally acquired a touch-tone phone – I assumed that he would fade seamlessly into the cacophony of screeching that is the wingnut underbelly of our electronic discourse. But he aimed high with The Daily Caller, billed modestly as the Conservative Answer to Huffington Post. I'm sure I've seen more underwhelming things but none spring to mind at the moment.
Short of a Flash banner at the top proclaiming "LOOK, WE ARE SIMPLY OUT OF IDEAS" the entire thing could not reek more of complete creative bankruptcy. From the instantly forgettable name – I guess "Tucker's Website" and "The Daily Internet Site" were already taken – to the "1997 called, it wants its web design back" layout, it is a case study in the inherent flaw in asking a bunch of College Republicans to come up with something slick and cutting edge. Their big roll-out event was a "Welcome to the internet!" courtesy piece by Arianna Huffington and a pair of columns from Andrew Breitbart (whose ghastly Breitbart.tv now has competition in the race to the bottom of the cultural barrel) and Rep. Pete Sessions.
Here's the best part: it has a full-time paid staff of 21. Unless Carlson is trying to set a new speed record for pissing through Koch Foundation money, I cannot conceive of a way that this thing will come close to breaking even. At a per-employee cost of, say, $70-$100k (counting all of the expenses beyond salary) I give this thing about six months before Phyllis Schlafly gets tired of flushing money down the toilet and the site goes the way of Google Answers.
The puzzling thing – and from the right's perspective, the sad thing – is that this is not a wholly untenable idea. It could work. There have been successes in the past marketing a higher-end conservative product, something slightly less stupid than Michelle Malkin and Free Republic. But this, to put it charitably, is just more of the same shit. What original content they offer is like the site itself – lame and uninspired. If Carlson thinks that the expense of this monstrosity is going to be subsidized by the public's insatiable desire to read the "diary" of S.E. "I've been to Rio. It's AWESOME." Cupp he is more ignorant of this newfangled internet thingy than we can imagine.