Ricochet: Saving The Right With New Media, Or Not

May 15, 2010

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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  1. Sissy Willis says:

    Never heard of Culture 11, had no idea it was “important” . . . Reinvent conservatism. . . Center-right . . . Whah? Anybody out there heard of the Tea Party movement? Need to read Roger Pilon’s “Taking Judicial Matters Seriously”:
    “However unsophisticated their understanding of the Constitution may be — by Harvard Law standards — these folks know intuitively that something is fundamentally wrong in the land, and it has to do with our having strayed from our Constitution of limited government. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, especially Republicans, will ignore this movement at their peril. Let the hearings begin. But let them be real.”

  2. larry says:

    Mark “freakin” Steyn LOL
    Talk about retreads.
    NRO 2.0

  3. Lightwave says:

    “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.”
    I disagree. The Left are the ones recycling old ideas into new stars…Barack Obama?
    Meanwhile the Tea Party is something original and new, and so are people like Sarah Palin and Rand Paul.
    And we’re warning you, GOP. Anyone who votes to confirm Kagan is gone at the first opportunity. Not one dime for Lindsey Graham or Lamar Alexander or Dick Lugar, they voted for Sotomayor. Filibuster everyone until Obama is impeached or voted out.

  4. Jana says:

    I don’t think the goals of Ricochet are the same as the goals of specific tactical political result. The tea party folks are attempting this, and succeeding, in Utah, notably. If some site gives me more entertaining reads from Mark Steyn, more’s the better. Long is hilarious, and I’ll happily read him too.
    And extensively quoting from The Atlantic? They’re hardly disposed to look favorably on a new conservative outlet for commentary and entertainment. Give it a chance before you toss the cold water.

  5. DaMav says:

    Huh? You want ‘sense of fun’ check out Ace of Spades and Sondrak.com

  6. bishop says:

    Robinson and Long, are solid, not like the Culture 11 folk, who didn’t know their market, still don’t from the likes of it. Any site that has Steyn and Hanson, and Berlinski on it, can’t be

  7. d.eris says:

    If the “online world” needs anything, it is fewer outlets that are devoted to reproducing the ruling two-party state and more that are devoted to removing the morally and intellectually bankrupt Democratic-Republican criminal-political class from power at all levels of government.

  8. Hunterbyrd says:

    Listen here. I’m living in deep fly-over country. I agree with Dan, viz, “center-right”. Cut that bull-crap by the throat! It’s PC. The people that jam to this great new podcast are Constitutionalists. I.e., we are conservatives with an attitude. Dan: stop with the negativity! Flirt a little with optimism! If the site “Ricochet” fails, let “them” do it, don’t prod it apriori. Personally, I believe Mark Steyn is our undocumented national treasure. Let them pull the plow awhile. I am with you, but keep your prognostications to yourself! The podcast is fun; it’s almost as engrossing as a typical night of Levin.

  9. Kaffirgal says:

    I listened to several of the Ricochet podcasts over the weekend. They’re terrific-informative and at times genuinely funny.
    I agree with Hunterbyrd. Why the negativity?