Morning Ed: Media {2017.09.13.W}

[Me1] Michelle Dean writes about crime story addicts and crime reporting.

[Me2] A look at Glenn Greenwald and the humor of Charlie Hebdo.

[Me3] Ed Miliband speaks out against the proposed Fox acquisition of Sky News.

[Me4] The Russian troll factory is going legit! Well, “legit” isn’t quite right… but more above-board. But wait! There’s more

[Me5] So how powerful is Fox News, exactly?

[Me6] Good for the New York Times. And especially the Miami Herald.

[Me7] Terry Mattingly writes on the media coverage of Feinstein’s question of Amy Coney Barrett.

[Me8] Wow, Eric Bolling had an unimaginably bad week.

[Me9] Dan Scotto’s twitter-thread on the media and Twitter is worth reading.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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28 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Media {2017.09.13.W}

  1. Me5: We discussed this on LGM. Some theories that came up:

    1. MSNBC’s reputation for liberalism comes from a handful of shows that air at night. Fox is more outrightly and propagandist for the GOP.

    2. Fox is often on in the background in the public square. MSNBC is not. So people can hear snippets.

    3. The hack gap is real. GOP pundits will always support the GOP. You can find the Vox crowd critiquing the Dems all the time. Left of center pundits will always be dedicated to policy over party.

    4. Democratic leaning types prefer Upworthy positivism to Fox News negativism and negativism wins the day.

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    • I was always bemused, back when I sometimes watched TV news, that MSNBC was the “liberal” channel. It had both liberal and conservative hosts, making it the liberal channel. So it goes, I suppose. But then, the same was true of CNN. We knew it was liberal because it had a bunch of conservatives who worked there using their inside knowledge to assure us it was totally liberal before transitioning smoothly to a right wing hack position. Exhibit A: Lou Dobbs.

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      • CNN tries to play it straight, but watch MSNBC on election night and it’s pretty clear whose side they are on. A few conservatives present notwithstanding (Fox has had some liberals, but for the most part liberals won’t go on it. Which I understand.)

        MSNBC isn’t Fox (or the mirror image), but it knows its audience.

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          • He became popular with liberals. Well, relatively popular. He was originally hired in 2003, before MSNBC had the brand that it has now. He spent a lot of his time there criticizing Bush and shortly after turning against him entirely, he got the morning slot (alongside a liberal). His presence is a combination of serving a function, being good at his job, and being grandfathered in.

            Meanwhile, other prominent spots go either to leftwards (O’Donnell, Maddow, Hayes) or neutrals (Williams, Todd, and Mitchell) and Chris Matthews. Like I said, they’re not Fox’s mirror image and do more than Fox did, but there is a lot of daylight between Fox-like and neutral, and they’re not really going for neutral. (Nor do they have any obligation to.)

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            • In other words, MSNBC has both liberals and conservatives, just like I said. 2003 was also when Keith Olbermann was hired. The liberal brand came because of this unfair and unbalanced hiring practice. The channel only later decided to embrace the label.

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                • I will concede that MSNBC’s audience is generally left-of-center. Still the difference in broadcast styles is remarkable and noticeable. I get that conservatives might not like Maddow or Hayes but they aren’t dismissive in the same way that Hannity or O’Reily was/is.

                  It seems to me that right-leaning audiences want their media to do very different things than left-leaning audiences. Rawstory is a noticeable exception here but how much is their market share?

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                  • Their tone is entirely different. Which speaks to some of the differences of the coalitions, among other things.

                    I recently re-watched The Last Supper, which stars Ron Perlman as a right-wing television host. They got it all wrong. He was saying the right offensive things, but his tone and demeanor while doing so was much more what you would see on the left than the right. So setting all else aside, the tone is really different, though the “saying outrageous thing to get attention” was definitely right and is definitely an asymmetrical trait.

                    In terms of “MNSBC isn’t as partisan as Fox” I think that is true, though I’m not sure if that’s as true as leftwards might think. But not to the point that I would litigate it.

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  2. [Me4] – Postmodern PhD…I wish the critique weren’t so…hmmn… sophomoric, but it is; that said, in better hands the critique would be useful.

    [Me5] – The interesting thing to me is not Fox/MSNBC but how CNN has squandered its position; it isn’t that CNN is strongly centrist, its that its weakly nothing. I’d like to say that it just reports the facts (ma’am), but it doesn’t really do that with any sort of conviction, its just a sort of repeater channel for stuff other people have determined is important. Maybe Linker’s latest column about the New Center will give it a new focus. [Not that I’m a New Center guy…but I’d welcome a New Center critique to the Left and Right]

    [Me7] – Nothing to see here people, move along.

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    • Back when I had cable, it would never occur to me to watch CNN. What would be the point? The only exception was some breaking story with a strong visual element. Then I would watch for perhaps a half hour, at which point they would simply by cycling through the same stuff again.

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        • Once upon a time, that was the business strategy, a TV equivalent of ‘you give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world’. Then they made that facet its own brand with Headline News channel – but then that business model didn’t work (or didn’t work well enough) anymore, so now Headline News is pure celebrity fluff (plus some true crime stuff I think)

          Radio is better suited for a continuous news loop because generally people are only in their cars for approximately half hour or less increments. Long distance traveller are station hopping. Supercommuters are definitely more common, but we also have seen over the decades many ‘news’ stations shift over to a ‘news/talk’ format, which is very likely linked. (there’s very few left like WINS and WTOP)

          It’s apparent, in hindsight, that there’s too much news for 3 half hour network TV shows in a a day, but not nearly enough for multiple 24 hour news networks. Or rather, not nearly enough for interested viewership to cover production costs for actually new news.

          There’s also been a quirk that at every turn when the news industry seems to be about to hit a snag or a breaking point financially, something big happens that both sustains but also transforms the industry. CNN became a permanent fixture thanks to Gulf War One. Fox News thanks to Lewinsky. The whole panalopy of daytime cable news thanks to 9/11 (that’s when the ‘crawls’, previously only on the financial networks, became a permanment thing, as well as “BREAKING NEWS” chyrons, which were quickly devalued. And, now, Trump was very good for business, I think 2016 was one of the best years for CNN ever, and they had been struggling something fierce.

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          • I think there is a way to do a 24/7 Cable News channel but not in a way that is profitable. I’m thinking a lot of long reports and in-depth investigative journalism. But this is not profitable and it is very expensive.

            Pundits are cheap TV.

            Here is my usual thoughts on journalists. Which ones got into the profession because they want to report on things and which ones got into the profession because they saw it is a way to a middle-class or above income?

            We imagine journalists as a cynical truth-tellers willing to risk unpopularity but it is clear that there is another kind of journalist that wants access, wants to be invited to events like the Aspen Ideas Festival, and TED Talks.

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