Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cultural and Political Influence

I recall Evan Thomas, editor of Newsweek, claiming in the late 1990's or early 2000's that the effect of the media was worth 10-15% in the polls. (Did you know that he was the grandson of Norman Thomas, BTW?  It figures. See also, this afternoon's post about the parents and grandparents of public figures, The Right Sort.) It was an overestimate even then - it would have been correct for 1990 -  but was interesting in that it was one of the few admissions from the lodge that is the legacy media that they do influence the vote. I had maintained for years that without that advantage the Democratic Party would have ceased to be viable and would have had to change to survive. (Helloooo, James Webb for VP.)

There had been a lot of conservative insisting in the previous decade that the dominant media displayed significant bias, despite their claims of fairness. There was a lot of handwringing in the opposite direction, deploring how much influence Drudge Report and talk radio were having, because those weren't objective news sources and people were being INFLUENCED by them.  When Fox* News came on board in 1997 the long knives were immediately out.

Jonah Goldberg at National Review had a response to the complaints about the growth of conservative media that I think still holds. I am paraphrasing from memory:  Well, then, let's trade. Conservatives get the NY Times, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and most of the other newspapers, plus the AP and UPI.  We'll take over ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and PBS.  You turn over Hollywood and academia to us, and the major publishing houses, including the textbooks.  Wait, I'm not finished. You give us Time, Newsweek, all the women's magazines, plus most of the political magazines.  In return you can have talk radio, the Wall Street Journal (usually), Drudge Report, Fox News, Weekly Standard, and National Review. Deal?

The territory is different now, and the internet has definitely allowed the many types of conservatives and libertarians to get their word out more. Newsweek and Time are gone. Yet I still think that the idea behind that trade should occur to us when there is wailing about the influence of conservative media, as if this is some sort of fifty-fifty deal where both sides have to try and improve and be a little fairer.  Liberals control great swaths of the media still.  How much influence do they have?  I think it is still great.  I no longer have a good intuitive sense, as I follow it all less and less. But I still think the Democratic Party would not survive without their assistance.

*I have never seen Fox News, BTW, except some linked clips, some of them trying to show it in a positive light, some in a negative.  Oh, and the unedited feed you can get on a cruise ship.  I watched a few minutes of MSNBC, also. I've heard a lot about them, but that's not the same.  My videographer son tells me their production values are less good than other networks.


Sam L. said...

Yes, the Liberal media still have great influence in blue cities. Elsewhere, it's the enemedia (portmanteau for enemy media), and not to be trusted or believed.

jaed said...

It was in 2004, during the election contest between Bush and Kerry:
"The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards-I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox, but—they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there's going to be this glow about them that is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points."
(Later on he said he'd overstated—it was more like 5 points.)

Back then, the admission was actually a little startling. Ah, nostalgia.

Boxty said...

I think I heard on Dennis Prager's show that if not for the media, Americans would be voting like Tennessee. I believe it's based on research by Dr. Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political science professor. He wrote a book titled Left Turn which discusses his research.

Available at AVI's Amazon affiliate link. . .

Assistant Village Idiot said...

When I link to a book, it's usually simplest to just click on my Amazon bookmark. I don't make any money from it. I suddenly wonder whether any of you going over from my links has affected what Amazon thinks I like while you browse around. That would be fine, as it would disguise who I am from them just a touch.

Not much, I'll bet.

Donna B. said...

I don't like any of the 24 hour news stations and never have. No matter their political slant, it's repetitive sensationalism. Actually, I've watched TV when by myself only once during the past year. It was a netflix serial show that I might watch again someday when I'm really bored with print. I keep a basic Dish subscription for football and movies for when my children and grandchildren visit.

As for us clicking your Amazon links disguising you... I doubt it. I think (though not certain at all) that the tracking is based on IP addresses. I search Amazon and google random things occasionally just to confuse the bots. It's amusing.