Thursday, November 6, 2008

The End of the Mainstream Media

Ask any conservative, and he’ll tell you that one of the primary reasons John McCain lost was due to the bias of the “mainstream media.” And certainly, most newspapers were very hard on McCain—the New York Times, the “newspaper of record,” was obviously unfair to McCain throughout the campaign, the best example being a wholly unsupported story of a alleged McCain affair. Obama led the newspaper endorsement race—he received nearly three times the number of endorsements as McCain.

Television was even harder on McCain. MSNBC, of course, is full of crazy liberals (“crazy” sounds a bit harsh, but really, what else can you call Keith Olbermann?), but CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS were also notably tougher on McCain than Obama. They scrupulously vetted every detail of Sarah Palin’s life (they were particularly good at ferreting out the exact cost of Palin’s clothes), while leaving such interesting issues as Barack Obama’s relationship with radicals such as Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers unexplored.

So the mainstream media was biased against John McCain. So? Worrying about how the “mainstream media” covers an election is like worrying about the union vote—both have some influence, but not nearly as much as in the past. The days of the “mainstream media” as a key political force are over.

During the Eighties, the three networks could count on a combined audience of around 80-90 million. Now, their combined viewership is under twenty million. And the evening news is still losing viewers.

Twenty million doesn’t qualify as “mainstream.” In the past, there may have only been a few lonely conservative television voices in opposition to massive liberal hordes. But now, the liberal television monopoly has evaporated, leaving the networks with an audience of old folks who haven’t caught up to current news gathering trends.

The situation is much worse for newspapers. In times past, every city had at least two daily newspapers. Now virtually every city has only one, and most of those are struggling. New York Times stock is classified as a junk stock, and the paper loses readers every year.

Even cable television doesn’t present a huge difficulty for Republicans. CNN leans left, while the Fox News Channel and MSNBC are unashamedly right and left leaning, respectively. (Though it should be noted that MSNBC is far more biased than Fox). Fox News makes up the two to one disadvantage by drawing far more viewers than either of its competitors, making cable news, on the whole, actually reasonably balanced ideologically. (Cable news might be neutral ideologically, but its coverage this election was dreadful. It managed to find and overanalyze every irrelevant story while carefully avoiding stories that were actually informative and useful).

Really, the media forces arrayed against John McCain weren’t all that formidable, especially given the power of the conservative media. Rush Limbaugh gets about twenty million listeners a week; Sean Hannity gets around twelve million. (Granted, many of Hannity’s listeners also are also included in Rush’s totals, and vice versa, but not all are). Other radio hosts draw smaller but still impressive audiences. Laura Ingraham gets over five million weekly listeners—that alone is more listeners than Katie Couric gets.

Fox News and the conservative blogosphere also provide opportunities for conservatives to get their message out. Millions watch Fox News (The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes are the two highest rated cable news shows), and the conservative blogosphere, if not as influential as the liberal blogosphere, still has the influence to drive stories. Republicans don’t lose elections because of the liberal media.

Unfortunately, they seem to think they do, which might explain virtually every Republican’s deadly fear of the media. When the McCain campaign introduced Sarah Palin to the nation, they didn’t introduce her via Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly—rather, they introduced her on ABC’s Evening News, letting the left-leaning (albeit usually fair) Charlie Gibson interrogate her. After an interview with Sean Hannity, Palin next appeared with Katie Couric, then disappeared from television.

She didn’t appear with Rush Limbaugh till much later in the campaign; she never appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show. The McCain could have introduced Palin through the liberal or the conservative media—they choose the liberal media, solely because it was “mainstream.”

Another case in point: conservatives spent months bemoaning the fact that the “mainstream media” wasn’t covering Obama harshly enough. It wasn’t—but what did anyone expect? It was obvious from the start that Obama (or Hillary, had she won the nomination) was going to get a free ride, and if conservatives wanted anyone to dig up dirt regarding Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers, they were going to have to do it themselves. They didn’t, and they have only themselves to blame.

Conservatives should adjust—this isn’t the Eighties anymore. What with the power of talk radio, cable TV, and the Internet, conservatives are now on an equal footing with the liberal media. They should start using their resources, instead of accepting the pronouncements of the networks and the New York Times as the acknowledged reality.


At November 7, 2008 at 2:14 AM , Blogger Beth said...

You've got a good point, in that the younger "Myspace" generation went for Obama big time, and they are spending their time online, not watching network news.

That, and the Democrats have some deep pockets in people like Buffet and Soros and groups like MoveOn.

At November 7, 2008 at 2:06 PM , Blogger Frank the Carpenter said...

The MSM has a vested financial interest in getting Obama elected and the Democrats a super majority. They know the Dems will bring back the Fairness Doctrine. This is the only way to regain their monopoly and stem viewer and financial losses by killing the conservative media

At November 7, 2008 at 6:37 PM , Blogger road warrior said...

The liberal illuminati owned the media for sure but Obama has so much money that he bought pretty much everybody and everything that wasn't behinD him. But i agree, McCain did not use the resource he has well. with viral marketing via internet and so many other ways you didn't take advantage of half of what he could have.

At November 10, 2008 at 2:09 PM , Blogger BB-Idaho said...

Sort of interesting, as you imagine, us libs detest talk radio and FoxNews..but I have become rather enamored of the Mike Huckabee Show. Imagine, he has Bill Maher and Joe the Plumber and Oliver Stone; a live audience and actually lets his guests finish sentences. Disagrees politely. Do
you suppose its the start of Fox turning into PBS? :) YIKES!!

At November 16, 2008 at 6:54 AM , Blogger knowitall said...

The mainstream media illuminati pulled off this win, but it was clear that the lefties utilized technology more, but the GOP have already begun to pick on that for the next time.

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