Every once in a while, like Judy and Mickey saying, "Let's put on a show!", conservatives decide that instead of just complaining all the time about the perfidy of the America-hating liberal media, they ought to create some media of their own. This happens despite the fact that they already have lots of media of their own. And that's why these ventures usually fail -- enterprises like the Fox News Channel or the many conservative talk-radio programs were created with the intention of making money, using conservative politics as a vehicle to that end. When conservatives try to use entertainment to advance the conservative cause, they run into problems.
Why? While every situation is a little different, it seems that most of the time, they aren't all that funny or creative. So you get things like Fox's 1/2 Hour News Hour, which was an attempt at a conservative Daily Show. It was spectacularly unfunny, a fact made all the more painful by a laugh track turned up to 11 (you can see a clip here). It lasted six months. Conservative attempts at countering liberal media hegemony also get you things like Conservapedia, created because -- you guessed it -- Wikipedia was infested with liberal bias.
The latest entrant in this sad game, we learn from Think Progress, is the Right Network, a new television channel for people who are not burning flags and spitting on soldiers during their tax-raising, pot-smoking gay weddings. What kind of dynamic programming will it be offering? Check out the preview for Politics and Poker.
Because if there are two things we don't get enough of on cable these days, it's people playing poker and people talking about politics.
The thing about ideological media is that it tends to work only when the media comes first, and the ideology comes second. The Daily Show succeeds because it's funny -- people don't tune in because they really, really want to see John Boehner mocked; they tune in because the show is entertaining. Rush Limbaugh is the most successful radio host in the land because he's extremely good at creating compelling radio. Even Glenn Beck has his own bizarre appeal -- his show may be a disturbing trip down the rabbit hole of his twisted psyche, but it's not boring.
I give the Right Network about a year before it declares bankruptcy.
-- Paul Waldman
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