Tucker Carlson's new toy

Will the Daily Caller be the HuffPo of the right?

Marching into the online magazine world today comes the Daily Caller, a new website from Tucker Carlson, former TV personality for CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. It has, like any serious political media outlet should, a picture of a group of scantily clad women on its front page today. Excellent.

Tucker, once famous for wearing a jaunty bow tie -- that graceful accessory of many a right-wing pundit -- claims the following for his creation:

This is primarily a news site. We see our core job as straightforward: Find out what's happening and tell you about it. We plan to be accurate, both in the facts we assert and in the conclusions we imply.

So, we can expect an unbiased, non-partisan guide through the complexities of US politics? Only if you ignore long comment pieces like this from Tom Price, member of Congress and chairman of the Republican Study Committee, entitled How the GOP gets its mojo back and extolling the "energy, enthusiasm and commitment" of the Tea Party movement. Oh, and this from Andrew Breitbart:

The launch of the Daily Caller is a necessary step toward creating ideological parity in the all-too-clearly biased mainstream media. It is a good thing that you, Tucker, are admitting that you come to the table with certain ideological baggage, and my new site Big Journalism will be there to watch your back when the well-funded, organized left's knives come out to try to discredit and attempt to destroy you. Believe me, they will.

Some might argue that bringing up the ideological baggage on day one rather blows the straight news sell out of the water. But still, let's give the DC a chance.

On the name -- it's subtly there to remind us of where it lives, deep in the hub of Washington, tapped into all that news. Although, as one commenter put it on HuffPo: "Of all the possible combinations that would result in the desired "The DC", was the Daily Caller the best he could come up with?"

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.