Although it took six years for her to do it, former mayor of Wasilla/Alaska governor/GOP vice presidential nominee, and current author/Fox analyst/Tea Party favorite/social media pioneer/reality TV star and all around muckraker Sarah Palin has finally landed on her most perfect title: founder, The Sarah Palin Channel.
Looking back, shouldn’t we have seen this Oprahesque turn coming all along?
Palin, a communications major, always made for great TV. Even when she stumbled her way through those Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson interviews in 2008, it was cringe-worthy, but hard to turn away.
Well, maybe, she hasn’t always made for great TV.
Here she is way back in 1988 as sports anchor for KTUU-TV, talking hoops, hockey and of course, the Iditarod. She was Sarah Heath back then, and very much on-script, until the very end of her appearance, when an anchor tells her “Don’t go overboard, Sarah.”
But the “overboard Sarah” is the only Sarah worth watching. And Palin thinks it’s worth $9.95 per month or $99.95 for a full year. And what will that roughly $100 a year get you?
“This is a news channel that really is a lot more than news. This is a community where we’re going to be able to share ideas and discuss the issues of the day,” Palin says in the video launch of the online network. “And we’re going to find solutions. I want to talk directly to you on our channel, on my terms, and no need to please the powers that be, most importantly, I want you to talk directly to me. That’s what I’m most anxious about. Hearing from you…Together, we’ll go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter…we’ll talk about the issues that the mainstream media won’t talk about.”
Palin, of course, has created her own cottage industry in the “mainstream media,” driving book sales, pushing traffic to web sites, and often setting the political conversation. In the summer of 2009 it was death panels, in 2012 it was crony capitalism, and her recent push for Obama’s impeachment has forced the GOP establishment to respond to her, and been a fundraising boon for Democrats. Among liberals and progressives, she is a favorite punchline:
The establishment wing of the GOP, simply doesn’t know what to do with her, other than “respectfully disagree” with her, but always careful to offer some amount of praise.
With GOP women running in high profile races–particularly Senate candidate Joni Ernst in Iowa–look for Palin to be a presence on the stump and to get some access and interviews as well. Those interviews will then end up on your television set. And come 2016, Palin could have an even bigger platform, as people like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) think about running for the White House and look to capture her audience. Perhaps a GOP debate brought to you by the Sarah Palin channel?
In turning to the web, Palin follows in the footsteps of Kim Kardashian, who has made millions off simply being Kim Kardashian, and Katie Couric, who made millions being a newswoman. Over the last years, with her reality shows, Palin went the Kardashian route, but now she will add a dash of her early professional life as well, offering up all things Palin via your tablet, phone, or computer.
“We’re not out to make a reality show,” Jonathan Klein, who helped launch the channel, said in an interview with the DailyBeast. “We’re out to make a channel that provides you with all the dimensions of her personality. People are nuanced. They have different layers and different levels. Too often people in public life are reduced to easily digestible cartoons… What we’re excited about is giving voice, for literally thousands of people who are out there, to someone who’s got passion and something to say and has a rabid audience that wants to hear it.”
If Glenn Beck can do it–his online GBTV has 300,000 subscribers and is part of the reason he makes $80 million a year–then why not Sarah Palin, who will add some diversity to a largely male dominated media landscape.
“It’s always good to see more women’s voices in media, particularly as owners, leaders and sources,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center (WMC). “The [WMC] hopes that as the Sarah Palin Channel develops its online network team that it will be cognizant of women’s representation behind the scenes and in front of the camera, particularly in light of recent Radio Television Digital News Association (RTNDA) and American Society of News Editors (ASNE) studies showing some gains for women and people of color, yet still widespread disparity.”
Although Meghan McCain might not be among the viewers (see the video above), Palin, with her constant ability to stay in the spolight, will likely find an audience.
“The people who love her, love to watch her, the people who really don’t love her, love to watch her,” Robert Thompson, who heads the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, told She The People in a previous conversation. “It’s mock watching, and that’s what keeps American culture afloat now.”
“You can’t really relate to her,” he said. “But she’s very honest…I’ve always wanted to get into the life of Sarah Palin.”
The Washington Post
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