Friday, May 29, 2009

'This will not end well for him'

So says TechCrunch's Leena Rao of Tucker Carlson and his project, which proposes to be the "Huffington Post of the Right," and which is already being laughed to scorn.

That's what was so ridiculous about him announcing it at a bloggers lunch, as I explained yesterday:
If you’re going to start a new Web site, you don’t begin by holding a press conference or issue a press release declaring your intention to start a new Web site. You bring the page up in beta, work the bugs out before anybody’s seen it, circulate the word to your blogger friends via e-mail, and only when you’ve got it rolling good and steady do you issue a press release and start doing promotion. All of which anybody in the business would have told you, if you had bothered to ask.
But of course, he didn't bother to ask, because he knows everything. After all, he's already worked at every cable-news outlet there is. If he flops at Fox (as he's flopped everywhere else) what next? Will he show up on Home Shopping Network? Yet if first-class free publicity is what he's looking for, he sure got it from the Wall Street Journal:
The site will take on the form of a general interest newspaper, he said, and will even attempt to be faster than the popular and speedy Drudge Report. . . .
Mr. Carlson writes for the Daily Beast and was recently named to the Fox News position after a stint as a political correspondent on MSNBC. . . . How will Mr. Carlson balance the responsibilities of running a news Web site with his duties at other outlets?
That's just it, you see: Tucker Carlson has never run a Web site. To my knowledge, he's never even run a group blog. And Michelle Malkin (averaging 7 million hits per month) tells Michael Blatt:
It’s not as easy as some people think it looks. . . . You have to approach the whole enterprise with a healthy does of intellectual humility. It takes an enormous amount of time and energy to make something like this work. You're doing it 24/7. It takes more than money. I think that is the lesson of the failure of Culture 11.
Oh, cursed dirigible! Oh, the humanity! Tucker Carlson is going to come strutting into Malkin's 'hood talking smack? He's going to aggregate faster than Drudge? He's going to do original reporting online and hasn't talked to any of the young reporters I know in D.C.? (Ask Dan Riehl: I know everybody.)

Over at Newsbusters, Blatt quotes Carlson's response to Malkin: "I hope Michelle will take a close look at the site when it's out. I think she'll like it."

Then why the big announcement at Heritage? He couldn't have called Malkin who, between her own site and Hot Air, grabs 22 million visits a month?

Hey, what about The New Ledger? What are those guys, chopped liver? Red State? What about Jennifer Rubin at Commentary? And never even mind the usual suspects: National Review, Human Events, The American Spectator, The Washington Times, CNSNews, NewsMax, WorldNetDaily, Townhall, The Weekly Standard . . . hey, they've got a few reporters, too, y'know.

When you start out with a big announcement, effectively giving the back of the hand to so many of your fellow conservatives . . . well, it had better not suck.
"Conservatives need to . . . find out what’s going on."
-- Tucker Carlson, Feb. 27, 2009
UPDATE: At least one of the commenters has accused me of arguing ad hominem.

Guilty! And the commenter is guilty of the arrogant presumption that if I make an ad hominem attack, it is because I am incapable of making a point-by-point rebutal. But conservation of resources is one of the basic principles of warfare, and there are some arguments so ludicrous as not to merit the labor of constructing a detailed rebuttal.

My time is valuable, and if I make a point-by-point argument, the antagonist is thereby invited to reply with his own point-by-point argument. We might continue thus ad infinitum in a sort of intellectual trench warfare, overwhelming the spectators with a tedious re-hashing of minutiae. All fine and good for academic journals but for the blogosphere, not so much.

Tucker Carlson is an arrogant preppy who, according to Wikipedia, attended St. George's School (tuition $41K/yr.) and Trinity College (tuition, room and board $51K/yr. ). Let him rebut that argument!

Now, it happens that Friday evening I spoke by phone with a well-known Internet entrepeneur, a fellow who describes himself as enthusiastically "pro-Tucker." Having heard the explanation of my resentment over Tucker's presumptious bigfooting into the blogosphere, my friend said, "Well, why don't you reach out to him?"

"Dude, I did reach out to him. I kicked that bowtied son of a bitch right square in the knee."

Why is it that the Tucker Carlsons of the world expect the rest of us to kowtow to them, to admire and support them in such a way that it is our obligation to "reach out" to them -- cap in hand, tugging the forelock in reverent obeisance -- and never their obligation to reach out to us? Merely because my parents couldn't afford to send me to St. George's doesn't make me as a doormat upone which Tucker Carlson is invited to wipe his feet.

If you allow yourself to be a doormat, you can't complain about the footprints on your back, and just because Tucker Carlson doesn't know what I'm doing, he shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that I don't know what I'm doing.


  1. And can we expect a review from Frumdreher? Superficially cool, with a scalding underbelly?

  2. One can only imagine the talent the Tuck Pad will draw upon. First string lacrosse, fourth string intellect. This thing has all the harbingers of fail so grossly tattooed upon it I can only think of the man in the swamp in Papillon. I accuse Tucker of...

    "... a wasted life."

    Meanwhile I shall spree drink the event.

  3. Tuck fails because there just aren't that many dispositional conservatives. Carlson isn't issues oriented. The movement is -- naturally. It can't deal with him. Meh.


  4. Yeah, I'm not getting this either.

  5. My question is "Why would anyone want to copy the Huffington Post?"

    What, is he going to hire a bunch of bloggers to smear prominent liberals?

    Is he going to viciously attack anyone who dare speak out for Obama?

    Wait a minute, I think I might actually enjoy that. And, I think I already do!

    Keep it up RSM!

  6. I think you hit on my concern exactly: Tucker's never done this, or anything like this, in the past. The lesson investors should take from failures like Culture11 (well, there are other lessons too) is that you really should only put people in charge of things who have already proven they can run something along the lines of what they're talking about. So much of Politico's success has come from plucking the right people to do the right things.

    For my part, I hope Tucker's project succeeds, if only because 1) if it's paying bloggers to write, it's injecting some cash flow into the picture, and that matters, 2) he claims it won't be a navel-gazing exercise, which is good, and 2) we really, really need to foster a professional class of online investigative bloggers on the center-right covering this administration. It's a travesty that we've got so many people unable to use their gifts for investigative work, because no one's paying them to do it.

    That said, my hope for success should not be confused with an expectation of success.

  7. This is primarily an ad hominem argument, replete with cheap and petty shots, but short on substance. And since it’s the second time in a week that you’ve gone after Tucker, I’m inclined to believe that there’s something else happening, such as envy, jealousy, or the like. Sure, most sites earn their hits the hard way, by building a base through word of mouth; but this is not a binding law of the universe. Moreover, the Internet is still in its infancy and I can’t fault Tucker trying a different approach.

    To be sure, I believe that, in principle, his idea of a one-stop clearing house for conservatives, along the lines of a Daily Kos or Puff Ho, would have been useful last year and would certainly be useful in 2010. As it stands, conservatives have seemingly countless blogs of various shapes and sizes (including this site) that anyone can read, but for the most part these blogs have become echo chambers, each one repeating the same stories of the other. I’m sure the left has this, but I only know of the two aforementioned sites, which clearly own a monopoly.

    So if not Tucker, then I would hope that someone else would step in and fill the void, because it’s a good idea. And, for what it’s worth, if there was such a site, I would hope that you would contribute to it.

  8. Oh, one more thing: D) I hope he knows how much skepticism there is for websites like this being just vanity projects. In my experience, most people (on the right and left) who talk about making "another Huffington Post" turn out to be less interested in creating a successful, impactful website, and more interested in having the kinds of friends/money/parties Arianna Huffington has.

    Which always surprises me, because honestly, why would you want to have to clean up after Alec Baldwin passes out?

  9. Tucker Carlson has never run a Web site.

    This is unlike Arianna Huffington, who booted early versions of Linux and configured and complied Apache modules before Apache 2.0.

    As for Kos, well he was making whitespace layout decisions and experimenting with early CSS typography. His background in encryption for was particularly valuable when it came time to generate public and private keys for secure http.

    Josh Micah Marshall? Contributed source code to the Zend PHP framework.

    You'd never have suspected but their excellent backgrounds were ideal, may, MANDATORY for starting web sites.

  10. The defenses of Tucker are pretty lame. Tucker will fail, not just because of the competition, or the lack of experience, or past record of failing at everything. No he'll fail because:

    1) He's an inside-the-beltway elitist with no common touch;
    2) He's a "reasonable" PBS Conservative, who'll refrain from being nasty or combative (i.e. interesting or exciting);
    3) He's a little Lord Fauntleroy whose never passionate about anything, except attacking other conservatives and bow-ties.

    Great call RSM.

  11. I remember Tucker Carlson from years ago on Crossfire. He was distinctly uninteresting and completely unable to debate effectively, traits which no doubt endear him to the mainstream media mavens and cocktail circuit "conservatives" like Frum, Parker, Dreher, et alia, but which offer little hope of success in a venture which must attract main street conservatives in droves to survive.

    His complete lack of experience and, apparently, preparation for the venture (in recruiting reporters and/or bloggers, for example) don't bode well either.

    All things considered (heh), Velociman's proposal to spree drink the whole (brief) event seems both practical and appropriate. Cheers!