Daily Caller vs. Daily Beast

Have Blog, Will Travel: I’d just written “email Tucker” in my notebook when Tina Brown’s rep called to say he had “bad news,” the new editors from the Daily Beast were cancelling all the Newsweek blogs that weren’t related to the magazine. It was a little like thinking about breaking up with your girlfriend only to have her break up with you first. Annoying! Luckily, I am not the type to be bitter.
Blogging at Newsweek was sort of like setting up your tent in a bombed out building. First the editor who hired me left. Then the editor above him left. Then the executive above that guy left. Then the editor who didn’t really like me but tolerated me left. As a result I was left alone, which was fine. I kept writing; the checks kept coming. But it was only a matter of time before the occupying army moved in.  So I emailed Tucker. (I didn’t try to contact the Beast people because it seemed as if that would lead to one of two possible outcomes, both equally bad: Either they would fire me or they would have big plans for me.)
The Daily Caller seems a better home for a number of reasons. Most important–and it was a Democratic politico who first pointed this out to me–the people here seem to be actually having fun, while the people at the Daily Beast seem to be having a desperate sort of faux-fun as they try to madly generate paying hits before Barry Diller’s money runs out subsidizing Ms. Brown’s big bucks staff. Brown could do wonders for Newsweek‘s print edition–she’s obviously extremely smart and seems to genuinely like discovering new talents. I’ve talked with her only once, at the 2008 Dem convention, and was totally charmed. But she’s wasted on the web, where if you hype a new talent you’ll probably just produce an item with a low search engine ranking.
The DC isn’t Animal House, but from what I’ve seen there is a slightly disorganized, understaffed rough-and-ready attitude that’s vastly preferable to a perfectly organized hierarchy of editors who busy themselves trying to shape your copy. In about a week the Caller** managed to create a blog template for kausfiles that lets me write short items and have a permalink for each–a technical feat Slate was unable to accomplish in a year and a half, perhaps because until recently Slate bloggers were second-class citizens when compared with “curated” writers. Luckily, I’m not bitter.
I also hope that writing for a conservative site will perversely move me a bit back toward the left. My default M.O. seems to be to cruise the web until I find something I disagree with, then blog about it. Since you tend to cruise in your own neighborhood, I suspect I’ll find lots of DC items to react against. Like the headline about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed anti-union legislation, “Details of the bill show it may not be that bad.” Hello? Who said the bill was “bad”? Do you mean it may not be that good? Why should the DC be defensive about Gov. Walker unless it’s still a wee bit trapped in the cocoon of Beltway respectability? [That puts you to Caller’s right, not left-ed  Huh. So it does. Next time, then]
Today, the Daily Beast announced it has hired Andrew Sullivan, which will bring them tens of thousands of new readers. The DB now employs two former New Republic editors who righteously decry the Iraq war after spending years (when it counted) equally righteously promoting it. Ms. Brown calls this being “willing to admit mistakes.” Luckily …
What is it that the Israelis say–‘We will retailiate in a time, place, and manner of our own choosing’? Or when Newsweek‘s final check clears. Whichever comes first. …


**with the help of Zeek Interactive