Ricochet: Saving The Right With New Media, Or Not
It's hard to say how this will do, though I wouldn't be surprised if it crashes and burns just like Culture whatever it was. It looks as though it could be something of a reinvention of NRO's The Corner on steroids. I can understand how people see a need for more Right-side media like this, given that so much of the media leans Left. Still, I'm often left feeling new media investors on the Right fritter their money away fighting the old media war, while the Left continues to advance in the new one.
It's a complex topic, but the Left tends to use new media tactically to generate specific results and win elections, not just nationally – but in states and districts, as well. OTOH some on the Right seem focused on creating, or simply recycling the same old same old, in hopes of creating new stars. There's a need for both. But I suspect what the Left is doing is more likely to pay off, politically speaking.
This bit is particularly annoying, though.
Ricochet is the brainchild of two established conservatives, former Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson and Hollywood producer-pundit Rob Long. "Rob and I felt there was plenty of space in the online world for a center-right website with a sense of fun, of talking back and forth among conservatives," says Robinson. The left outweighs the right-wing in cyberspace, he says, even with everything from The Weekly Standard to 'Townhall.com' populating the web.
Yeah, because the Right hasn't been having fun out here for years across a thousand blogs, or it simply doesn't count unless it's fronted by mostly establishment figures. What. Ever.
Ricochet will in many ways be the stepchild of Culture 11, the short-lived but important website that tried to reinvent conservatism in the post-Bush era. Poulos was political editor at Culture 11, and the sites share a commitment to reconciling the right wing with popular culture. But unlike its predecessor, Ricochet feels no need to rethink conservatism–it is instead a sign that in the Obama era, right-wingers feel confident enough in their ideas and prospects that they think major ideological modifications are unprincipled and unncessary. "At a time when the country is being dragged to the left by Washington and mainstream media, this is another way to fight back," says Robinson. "Since the demise of Culture11, politics have changed," says Poulos. "The conversation on the right has become more interesting and productive than it was." In addition, Obama has been in the White House long enough to convince people of the direction he's taking America in, he says.
In that vein, most of Ricochet's contributors are familiar names. In addition to frequent National Review writers Robinson and Long, John Yoo, Victor Davis Hanson, Shelby Steele, Claire Berlinski and Mark Steyn will grace Ricochet's virtual pages. Several conservatives have griped privately that these names are hardly in need of more outlets for their commentary, so it is unclear what, if anything, the site will bring new to the ideological table.
And indeed, of the 15 Ricochet podcasts released to date, hosted jointly by Robinson, Long and the ubiquitous Steyn (who often fills in for Rush Limbaugh on his radio show), little new ideological ground is broken. Tellingly, one episode features a session bashing conservative apostate David Frum as a "country-club Republican" who cedes too much ground to the Democrats, and doesn't do enough "fighting, screaming and hollering," the function of right-wing writers and thinkers, according to Long. Guests for the podcast have been movement stalwarts like Andrew Breitbart, Jeb Bush, Gov. Mitch Daniels and Richard Epstein. So far, exactly one Democrat has appeared–Mickey Kaus, most famous for his denunciations of liberals.
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