sad elephant

I take it back.

I was wrong. People do still want to hear from Sarah Palin. In fact, they must want to hear from her an awful lot.

I was, as usual, mistaking my own feelings for the feelings of Everybody. This is a problem we writers have, and you have to bear with us. I heard from someone who said, basically, “You know, just because people don’t want to read any more anti-Palin snark does not mean that people are no longer interested in Sarah Palin.” He had me there. It was good to hear from someone whose opinion I did not already share, and I altered mine accordingly.

And just in time!

Now Sarah Palin is unveiling a new media channel, called, conveniently enough, the Sarah Palin Channel, where she promises to do away with the “filter” and really Listen to you. It costs $9.95 a month — or $99.95 a year.

This is going to be a lot of value. To put this in perspective, you can get a full year’s Sunday subscription to The Washington Post — as well as unlimited access to our digital content — for about half that. It must be very expensive to remove the filter from all that news.

For the same price or cheaper, you can also:
* Subscribe to Netflix (just $7.99 a month for standard-definition!), which includes both “Orange Is the New Black,” a show about women you are forced to spend time with even if you don’t want to, AND “House of Cards,” a show where sinister crony capitalists control government in an unrealistic way, and also other shows that are more fun. Many, many other shows.
* Become an Amazon Prime subscriber (Disclosure: Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Post)
* Buy a friend a gift subscription to TheBlaze
* Receive e-mail forwards from your irate grandmother with the same exact pictures
* Not hear about Sarah Palin at all

Those are all things that, to me, have great value — and cost less.

But I am, as we have established, wrong.

On the one hand, this is a Nice Business Model if you can get it. Pay $9.95 a month to hear from you — and only you? I certainly can’t command that. When you subscribe to The Post, you get a range of attitudes and opinions. There are writers to the left of me and writers to the right of me and straightforward facts in the middle.


And stepping back from this particular example, before the irate e-mails about how we are crypto-fascists and crypto-communists (simultaneously, somehow) start pouring in, that, to me, seems like what you pay for when you pay for a news subscription: the opportunity to hear objective facts and opinions from multiple sides.

But there I know I’m wrong. If there is one thing people hate now, it is having to hear something they are not sure they are going to agree with. You want your news to subscribe to your views, not the other way around. “Fair and balanced” means “news that has the same biases you do.”


I’m not saying that the Mainstream Media (or Lamestream Media, depending on where you’re coming from) is blameless in this. But there are costs to this era of maximum customization, where the rallying cry is “More of the Same.” More movies like the movies you already like! More books that the people who liked the books you like already liked! (That’s a tongue-twister.) More music that resembles the music you like! More — news that matches the news you agree with? Somewhere in the shuffle, we’ve lost the idea that objectivity counts for something. Clearly not. Look how much people are willing to pay for the opposite.

Who knew what a valuable service that would be? Facts are stubborn things, and moving them out of the camera shot ain’t exactly cheap. Glenn Beck, when he’s pointing out the value of a Blaze TV subscription (I like TheBlaze all right! One time they linked to me!) is pretty up-front about it. “You know how important it is to be part of a movement that thinks like you and shares your beliefs and values,” he says. It’s a movement. It thinks like you.

Palin is going for the same thing. If anything, she goes a step farther. This isn’t a news channel. It’s a channel for you. What do you want to hear about? What do you want to hear? Tell her, and she’ll get it for you.

That’s an idea. Not all the news that’s fit to print (a half-year subscription to the Times online is just $65!) but all the news that fits your notions.

Now the only chance to hear from people who don’t instantly agree with you is on Facebook, by mistake. Palin spends a lot of time on Facebook. No wonder she’s starting a channel of her own.

I’m not sure that’s worth $99.95. But we’ve established that I’m wrong. And given the way news is headed, this may be the last time anyone has to admit that.