Cable news conservative Carlson launches Daily Caller

The offices of the Daily Caller evoke a long-ago era of journalism, circa 2005 or 2006, before The Los Angeles Times closed its big-city bureaus, The Washington Times fired 60 percent of its staff, and magazines from Gourmet to Portfolio shuttered for lack of revenue. A staff of 21 reporters and editors sit in blindingly white offices and a wide-open center space, cranking out content for the site’s January 11 launch. Other possible hires walk in and out of Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson’s office, past a lounge inhabited by liquor bottles and a sleeping dog, and decorated by clocks that tell the time in far-flung and random locations: Pyongyang, Jackson Hole, Washington, Honolulu.

Tucker Carlson (ZUMA Press)

Tucker Carlson (ZUMA Press)

“I just thought it was funny,” said Carlson, chewing on a piece of Nicorette. (He quit smoking last year, on his 40th birthday.) “We dispatched some intern to go and get those signs made. Actually, it was $150–I never would have done it if I’d thought it would be so expensive. But something about it amused me. They’re on velcro. We swap ‘em out–we’ve got a whole drawer full of ‘em.”

Last February, Carlson–the conservative former host or co-host of shows on CNN and MSNBC, and still a Fox News contributor–gave a speech to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in which he urged activists on the right to “copy” the journalistic model of the New York Times. “They need to get out, find out what’s going on, and not just analyze things based on what the mainstream media has reported,” Carlson said. He was roundly booed. Four months later he officially announced plans to launch a news site “along the lines of the Huffington Post” with an ideology “not in sync with the current program.” When he talked with TWI on Wednesday, Carlson suggested that the desire for news like that, and the potential to break big stories, was greater than ever.

“When was the last time you saw, on television, a straight explanation of what’s in the competing House and Senate health care bills?” Carlson asked. “What’s in them? People want to know that!”

In the time between that announcement and next week’s debut, Carlson and his partner Neil Patel–a former aide to Dick Cheney–raised money, scouted out staff (”we didn’t ask about ideology,” said Carlson) and held poker games at their original, grimier office in Washington’s Dupont Circle. A June launch date was pushed into autumn, and then pushed back again. The reason, explained Patel, was that “our aspirations kept growing.”

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David Weigel

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