Morning Ed: Media {2017.09.13.W}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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28 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    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.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      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.Report

      • 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. Report

        • Richard Hershberger in reply to Will Truman says:

          Then explain Morning Joe. There is a difference between having a sacrificial “liberal” as a foil, and having a real conservative with his own prominent time slot.Report

          • 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.)Report

            • Richard Hershberger in reply to Will Truman says:

              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.Report

              • If I misread your statement to say that MSNBC wasn’t liberal in 2003 (but you’re not saying that about 2017), then we might actually agree on the broader point (if not the mechanisms). I remember the shift occurring after that.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

                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?Report

              • 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.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “. Fox is often on in the background in the public square. MSNBC is not.”

      I find this…. hard to believe. Considering that I often see both on in the background in the public square and I’m in Colorado Springs.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Maribou says:

        I almost never see Fox in a “Public” square, like, say an airport… that’s usually CNN.

        But in a “Private Public” square, then that’s where Fox pops up… like, say, a barber shop or a non-chain restaurant/bar… and that’s pretty much location/context dependent.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Marchmaine says:

          @marchmaine Ah, see, here we’ll often have both Fox and MSNBC playing in different spots in the same airport. “Private Public” is anyone’s guess.

          Which now that I say that out loud, suggests that Colorado Springs is just as quirky as any other city, and I shouldn’t overgeneralize.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Not just non-chains. Plays at the local McDonald’s here.

          UPDATE: Actually, since it’s McD’s, might be or probably is a franchise rather than a chain location.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to Will Truman says:

            Yeah… I’m not positing it as a full axiom yet, just the most recent observation I had while travelling. Even in chain restaurants, I wonder what discretion they might have for local flavor. For example, Five Guys Restaurants play terrible music, but some locations play horribad music – so obviously some flexibility is built into their awfulness.Report

  2. Marchmaine says:

    [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.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Marchmaine says:

      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.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        That’s right, it is sort of the visual equivalent of an old AM/FM “news” channel… like WTOP. Stuff is happening, pictures, repeat.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Marchmaine says:

          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.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Kolohe says:

            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.Report

            • I’ve never seen Sky News do the pundit shows whenever I’ve run across it. That’s a point in favor Miliband in Me3! But (a) I might be missing it and (b) the problem is probably us and maybe the Brits don’t have it.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              Yeah, the great hidden secret of media in the late 20th century is that real investigative journalism was a thing only newspapers could really get into, and that was only because they had a lock on the classified ad market which underwrote everything.Report