WASHINGTON – She’s the queen of zing, but so much more.
Brainy but down to earth.
Flippantly hilarious but deadly serious.
Strikingly beautiful but unpretentious.
One of the conservatives’ biggest guns, her quick wit is feared by foes, adored by fans.
Laura Ingraham has already made her mark on the political landscape.
Now she is aiming her sights even higher. Much higher.
Her incisive intellect and acerbic asides have already made her the most listened-to woman in political talk radio.
“The Laura Ingraham Show” is carried by hundreds of stations nationwide, she is a regular Fox News contributor and the main substitute host on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
A former Supreme Court law clerk, cancer survivor and mom to three adopted children, she has authored five No. 1 New York Times bestsellers.
One might think she has more than enough conquests for a lifetime already under her belt.
But she wants more. Much more.
In fact, her new venture could be called the Holy Grail philosophers and pundits have sought for all of history.
“We want to explain life.”
That is the “simple mission” of the captivating new website LifeZette, as explained to WND by editor-in-chief Ingraham.
It may not be a modest ambition, but LifeZette, with its combination of practical advice, thought-provoking intellectualism, cutting-edge political commentary, tips for urban and suburban survival, and forays into pop culture is intriguingly unlike anything else on the web, as it casts its nets wide over a range of topics nearly as vast as the sea.
Among the stories in its first 24 hours online:
So, just what is LifeZette?
“We’re not a news site. We’ll have a few newsy items and some political analysis, here and there, but the site is primarily about the rest of life,” said Ingraham.
WND spoke with the conservative rock star about the Tuesday launch of LifeZette and found her eloquent and exuberant in describing her new calling and what she hopes to deliver to readers.
“The wonder of life, the complexity of life, the frustrations, the joys – all of it. We want to explore all of those elements of life in a new way, a fresh way. If this site can help people live better lives in some way, I’ll think it’s a success. Lord knows, we all need help every now and then.”
She said the site is aimed especially at people who are very busy and don’t have much time to sit down and read long pieces or the entire paper from cover to cover.
“If they want to be informed and laugh and have a good time and know what’s at stake in the culture, then we’ll be their go-to place.”
Ingraham spoke as though she’d found and an untapped market to mine: everyday people and their everyday concerns, especially traditional Americans.
“It’s a lifestyle site for the rest of us. It’s life as we live it, in all of its variety. Life isn’t a focus group, it’s not a demographic group, it’s not a political party. It’s our upbringing, our faith, our friends, neighbors, jobs…that’s what life is. And sometimes we lose sight of that in Washington, D.C. This aims to change that.”
She hopes LifeZette will build a sense of community.
“I think a lot of people feel like they need an ally out there. In politics, talk radio and the websites give people a sense of alliance. I think people need that beyond just politics. And that’s what we’re trying to do with LifeZette. We’re in your corner. You might not always agree with is but we’re in your corner.”
Her description of LifeZette as “a lifestyle site with a side of politics” is evidenced by the categories at the top of the home page:
(There may be no Dadzette, but fathers are not left out, with such articles as “Pop patrol: Strict dads raise trim lads.)
Ingraham said when she came up with the website concept with her team they thought the political conversation was already well-represented by such outlets as WND and Fox, but, she realized, at this point in her life, most of her time and energy was no longer spent on politics.
“It’s really dominated by my family, faith, navigating the crazy cultural landscape, health issues, caring for aging parents, things like that, that we all have to deal with. I’d say for 98 percent of America that’s daily life. Politics is something you dip in and out of, but it’s not the focus of most people’s lives when you move beyond the beltway and maybe in a few other metropolitan areas.”
She decided there was a need for a website that offered more.
“We wanted to have a broader-based conversation in a fun, forward-looking way about the issues that we all really care about, that dominate most of our lives. And do it in a way that is, I think, very inviting and very experiential for the readers.”
Ingraham’s vision was a website where people could feel at home. Or, at their favorite bar.
“I think of Cheers. I love Cheers, I love the song, you know, “Where everybody knows your name.” Not that we’re going to know all your names, but, we want this to be a safe harbor for a lot of folks who feel like the culture has turned against them and things are becoming so chaotic and so confusing that they really can’t make sense of it. So, we want to help make sense of it and have fun with it at the same time.”
Would she say that home is also a safe haven from the mainstream media spin on pretty much all the issues?
“A lot of them, yeah. There aren’t many places where moms like me, who have small children, can go. There’s no one-stop shopping place they can go to learn about these issues or find out what’s happening on the health or relationship fronts, or where they can maybe see other people struggling with questions of faith or have tips on how to raise your kids in a toxic cultural environment. There’s really no one place that more traditional Americans can go.”
She envisions the website as a place of diverse voices where everyone is welcome.
“We’re going to have a lot of liberals on our website, as well, and we welcome them. This is a conversation about where America is today and where we want to take her. It’s not about me, it’s about the country. Lord knows, we need to laugh more.”
WND asked if she would characterize LifeZette, with its great variety of cultural and political issues, as sort of an alternative to the Huffington Post for people who don’t have that point of view?
“Yes, that’s kind of the shorthand that people are using out there. Ariana is an old friend of mine. She was very successful in laying out her own cultural imprimatur and we’re going to do that in our own way. We want to be that place where people go to get quick, interesting updates on health and parenting and culture and politics.”
Will there be much interaction with readers?
“Absolutely. We’re going to have a very active social media presence. I do now, with my radio show. But this is going to be a community of people who just like being part of this conversation and who like the fact the conversation is even happening at all.”
“As you see with (GOP presidential candidate Donald) Trump, on the one issue of immigration, which you guys cover so well, people feel everyone wants to take issues off the table. You can’t talk about social issues, you can’t talk about immigration, you can’t talk about this, you can’t talk about that…what the heck can we talk about?”
“Other than Ariana Grande, or whatever,” she added with a laugh.
LifeZette does seem new, different, interesting and often fun, sometimes in unexpected ways. A video of Kelley Paul playing a pop-quiz game called “This or That” shows the human, and lighter, side of the wife of a presidential candidate. WND remarked the playful repartee with the spouse of Sen. Rand Paul seemed like the kind of thing most people could relate to.
“She is very relatable when you see her in that setting. Forget politics, forget whether Rand Paul is going to be the nominee. She’s a woman who is raising her children and she’s thrown into the mix of politics, but she’s just a person.”
And, Ingraham found a serious insights can come from such fun and games.
“I think the decision about whom to marry is probably the most important decision we can judge these candidates on. She’s a great person, you can tell. She doesn’t get rattled, she doesn’t get frustrated, she’s very warm. And I think people take a little snapshot of her personality and her likeability away from that, when they watch that little video. It’s just a short little thing, it doesn’t mean it’s any great statement on the political race, but it just nice to see someone in a different forum. She’s genuine. And that comes across, I think.”
A mission to explain life is a big challenge for a website. Ingraham said her strategy to maintain a high-level of quality will be to keep cultivating their “great stable of contributors, thinkers and doers, across the landscape of the country.”
“A lot of people don’t have outlets with which to express themselves. They don’t have guest spots on television or radio shows or access to media platforms. We’re going to give those people new access.”
Among those contributors, she mentioned some who readers may already recognize, such as Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, or Randall Wallace who wrote Braveheart.
She also touted efforts from “those who do great work on a grassroots cultural level, who are great inspirations in their local communities who don’t just talk about improving the country but who actually, in their daily lives, are improving the country by helping people in need or challenging the status quo when it needs to be challenged.”
“We’re always going to be on the hunt for those people, to showcase their stories and their commitment to excellence. It’s not going to be easy to keep this pace up, but I think with how concerned and anxious people are about where America is today, including and beyond politics, I think there’s going to be a wealth of voices who want to be part of this.”
And those voices could come from just about anywhere.
“We have an open door to examine and consider contributions, everywhere from the entertainment world to communities across all denominations. Mothers and fathers who are in the mix everyday. How are they getting it done? We’re gonna be doing our best.”
LifeZette does not ignore politics, especially as it seems to encroach more and more upon daily life in an era of national fundamental transformation. But the website seeks to tap into what people on Main Street are most concerned about.
“Well, it’s what I’m concerned about, as are all the moms in my circle at school. We all talk and a lot of what they tell me is reflected in this site: their issues, what they are worried about and what they are really excited about and what they are afraid of. You learn a lot by listening to other people.”
She concluded, with a laugh, “And I need to listen more and talk less.”
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth