In a piece running in the WaPo’s online edition today, Howard Kurtz and Karen Tumulty team up to whine about how cable news is making them less relevant:
The increasing polarization of cable news is transforming, and in some ways shrinking, the electoral landscape. What has emerged is a form of narrowcasting, allowing candidates a welcoming platform that helps them avoid hostile press questioning and, in some cases, minimize the slog and the slip-ups of retail campaigning.
Fox News, which has nearly triple the audience of MSNBC, has provided a megaphone for three possible 2012 GOP presidential candidates on its payroll: [Sarah] Palin, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich. Two of its most prominent commentators, Karl Rove and Dick Morris, are actively raising money for Republican candidates.
"I'm helping raise $50 million, $3 million of which we've already spent on behalf of Sharron Angle in Nevada," Rove, a Bush White House official, recently told viewers. Hannity has also raised money for GOP candidates. Fox executives declined to be interviewed.
Cable news audiences are relatively modest, with O'Reilly's top-rated Fox program drawing more than 3 million viewers at 8 p.m. But cable chatter has a way of driving other news coverage - in blogs, in op-ed columns, on Facebook pages and, ultimately, on network newscasts, creating an echo-chamber effect.
The current environment is reminiscent of an earlier era when many newspapers were partisan vehicles with names like Democrat and Republican. "This whole notion of objective journalism is a relatively new invention," said Syracuse's Thompson. "But what we're seeing on the national cable scene is something on a much grander scale."
Kurtz and Tumulty’s whine-fest is an illustrative example of why the legacy media is on its knees. Only on the pages of the Washington Post and New York Times will you see news organizations scolding their customers for refusing to consume their product, rather than reviewing their business model and tuning their reporting.
And let’s be honest, here. They aren’t whining about the growing influence cable news in general. They’re whining about the growing audience and influence of Fox News. That network routinely draws more viewers during prime time than MSNBC and CNN, combined. With readership and circulation at WaPo, NYTimes and other major dailies falling to dismal lows, the Howard Kurtz’s and Paul Krugman’s of the media world are watching their scope and influence wane. They’re not happy about that, but they don’t blame themselves.
They blame you, you stupid, un-nuanced peasant.
The corner offices of MSNBC, CNN and the editorial boards of major dailies are filled with liberals. To straight-facedly claim that they offer “objective journalism” is insulting to the intelligence of Americans. We’re not idiots. We smelled their liberal bias decades ago, and began turning away from the tilted coverage. When Fox News was launched in 1996, the center-right majority of Americans finally had a truly “fair and balanced” alternative, and as of this writing the channel is the second-most watched network on all of cable and satellite—behind only the USA Network.
To have the Washington Post whining about the rising influence of Fox News is akin to a pizza peddler, rich from foisting off pies that taste like cardboard, complaining that people are opting for the pizzeria offering hand-tossed, brick oven-baked melty goodness. Don’t blame the consumer. Change your recipe.