On Sunday, Sarah Palin announced on YouTube that she is starting a new venture for those who can’t get enough right-wing misinformation packaged in a chirpy Midwestern accent. (See also: Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.) For a mere $10 a month, subscribers to the Sarah Palin Channel can gorge on the typical conservative news reports and anti-Obama hysteria offered by her competitors, with a twist: She’ll also serve up plenty of videos of the Palin family doing stuff around the house and probably shooting at things. “Believe me, it is fun,” Palin says in the introductory video. “Because it’s real life.”
Like Beck and Rush Limbaugh (who also offers a members-only website, for a fee), Palin has built a personal brand around right-wing grievance: The Man is oppressing Real America, and Palin alone is brave enough to tell is like it is. “Are you tired of the media filters? Well, I am. I always have been,” explains Palin, a known victim of not being asked to be on TV as much as she’d like. “Together, we’ll go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter, and things like Washington, D.C.’s crony capitalism,” she continues. “We’ll talk about the issues that the mainstream media won’t talk about. And we’ll look at the ideas that, mmmm, I think Washington doesn’t want you to hear.” She’s kicking off that promise with a video demanding the impeachment of Obama. (“Enough is enough from the years of abuse from this president,” Palin says in the video. “His unsecured border crisis, for me, is the last straw. It makes the battered wife say, ‘No mas. That’s enough.’”)
But Palin is also building a lifestyle website, which requires her to present an image of an enviable home life (one that has, against all odds, survived all these ostensible attacks from the left). The Sarah Palin Channel will pick up where Palin’s one-season TLC reality show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, left off, with Todd, Sarah, and the kids snowmobiling around America; Bristol will have her own blog, on “life,” “family,” and “Alaska.” This is where Palin can really distinguish herself as a woman on the right: Subscribers to Rush Limbaugh’s website can pay to watch a live video recording of his radio show, but nobody really wants to go home with him. Palin’s one-two punch offers viewers both an outlet for their victimhood and a vision of the life they’re fighting for.
So while the $10-a-month paywall may seem like a bad idea in a world where video advertising has proved a more reliable way to make money while getting views, the subscription model may actually work in Palin’s case. Palin’s audience is composed of people who are steeped in the paranoid belief that everyone else is out to get them, a paranoia she’s happy to stoke at every turn. The paywall offers a sort of protection, then: A safe space to communicate without the fear that outsiders are listening in, and a rare enclave where a life that looks like “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” still persists.