Sarah Palin represents that rarest of cases: She's a political figure who has spent every last dime of political capital that she earned through her half-term as governor of Alaska and as a failed vice presidential candidate. Politically, she's washed up. She has no power. Nobody who works in Washington, DC, owes her favors. Her fan base has shrunk to a few hundred thousand unfettered loons, meaning she doesn't even have the ability to promote change through petition or boycott anymore. She's nothing, a nobody.
Fame is the only power that Palin has left. Those faithful five hundred thousand or so fans don't matter at all politically, but in this media market, where every fringe interest has its own TV network, Palin retains a small amount of credibility. The mass market has rejected her, but everything is a niche now, and Sarah Palin can definitely claim ownership of a niche: retirees who own more than three pieces of American flag-themed clothing and who hate Barack Obama more than they love their own grandchildren. And that niche is why Sarah Palin has launched her own television channel, cleverly titled The Sarah Palin Channel. For $9.95 a month, Palin promises "a news channel that really is a lot more than news.” It's a "community," reportedly, and Palin is "anxious" for "you to talk directly to me."
On the channel's home page, Palin's attempt to rebrand as a conservative Oprah is spelled out in a mission statement printed in large letters: "Together, let’s live life vibrantly, purposefully, and boldly!" There are a few sample videos on the page, including one where Palin takes a viewer question from someone named Robert Bannister. Bannister asks, "How many things can you name that our president has failed at?" Palin reads Bannister's angry e-mail, listing Solyndra and the Obamacare website crashes as examples before concluding, "You're an idiot if you voted for this person. It's your fault! You can make any excuses you want, but facts are facts." Palin agrees with Bannister, saying our government is addicted to opium, which she then clarifies as "O.P.M.—other people's money." Palin gets to recite a bullet-point, a Palin fan feels edified by personal contact with Palin, and the circle of fame is complete.
On her own tiny-platform show intended for a niche audience, Meghan McCain dismissed the Sarah Palin Channel as "a blog with video posts" and said she wouldn't be subscribing. “I got all the Sarah Palin I need for one lifetime," huffed the daughter of the Doctor Frankenstein who pulled Sarah Palin out of nothingness and made her into an overnight media sensation.
Palin's shift to a subscription-only model most closely resembles the time that Glenn Beck was fired from Fox News for being too crazy for even Fox News. Beck founded his own network, and still to this day performs his dancing-monkey routine for a small community of people who have stuck with him through all his highs and lows. One assumes that Beck makes a comfortable living as a charity case for extreme Teabaggers, but all his media influence is gone. Every once in a while, he says something so crazy that the larger media takes notice, but he's for the most part an inward-facing phenomenon, preaching to the converted about the terrifying Obamapocalypse that's coming for their guns and their grandkids. This is Sarah Palin's best-case scenario. This is what Sarah Palin hopes to achieve.