Coals to Newcastle

Maybe I’m just biased, but I wouldn’t have imagined that what the political media world most needed at this moment was a new, avowedly vicious conservative web site. But that’s what Matthew Continetti (a former Weekly Standard editor probably best known for penning the 2009 book The Persecution of Sarah Palin) is promising with the advent of the Washington Free Beacon, “a project of the 501(c)4 Center for American Freedom…[d]edicated to uncovering the stories that the professional left hopes will never see the light of day.”

Continetti’s introductory essay for the Free Beacon (of which he is editor-in-chief), entitled “Combat Journalism,” is pretty amazing coming from a professionally trained journalist. It’s a chronicle of the recent history of political media in which conservative media (and politicians) are the perpetual victims of liberal bias and “elitism,” against which they have only now begun to fight. The first examples of a determination to fight fire with fire, and the apparent models for the Free Beacon, are the gangster-pranksterism of Andrew Breitbart and the Daily Caller‘s smear-a-thon aimed at the alleged media conspiracy of the off-the-record listserve Journolist (full disclosure: I was a member of said ‘list, who got to see a few of my leaked private emails taken wildly out of context and splashed across the top of the Caller‘s site).

In any event, Continetti has worked himself up into a hate-frenzy and all but promised to fight dirty, as is witnessed by his manifesto’s coda: “At the Beacon, we follow only one commandment: Do unto them.”

Bully-boy bravado aside, this is pretty sad. Continetti once had the guts to reflect his free-market principles by going after Republicans, too (as evidenced by his first book, The K Street Gang: The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine). Now it’s all us versus them, with a heavy aroma of the self-justifying claim of victimization that he must have gotten via proximity to St. Joan of the Tundra.

In any event, Continett’s pose of lonely courage may be undone by his simple inability to cut through the vast competition. If ever anyone brought coals to Newcastle, it’s the Free Beacon.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.