MSNBC Making Moves Against Fox, While Right-Wingers Revolt Against Conservative Media
The big media story of the week continues to be the seeming implosion of the Fox News channel after its on-air talent's refusal to acknowledge Obama's lead, then victory, in the polls. The network's mishaps have made it a laughingstock, while rival network MSNBC just keeps growing.
During Mr. Obama’s first term, MSNBC underwent a metamorphosis from a CNN also-ran to the anti-Fox, and handily beat CNN in the ratings along the way. Now that it is known, at least to those who cannot get enough politics, as the nation’s liberal television network, the challenge in the next four years will be to capitalize on that identity.
MSNBC, a unit of NBCUniversal, has a long way to go to overtake the Fox News Channel, a unit of News Corporation: on most nights this year, Fox had two million more viewers than MSNBC.
But the two channels, which skew toward an audience that is 55 or older, are on average separated by fewer than 300,000 viewers in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic that advertisers desire. On three nights in a row after the election last week, MSNBC — whose hosts reveled in Mr. Obama’s victory — had more viewers than Fox in that demographic.
“We’re closer to Fox than we’ve ever been,” said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, who has been trying to overtake Fox for years. “All of this is great for 2013, 2014 to keep building.”
Just as interesting is the critique of Fox from within the conservative movement, particularly younger conservatives like Ross Douthat, who have had enough with the "bubble."
Today, a story in POLITICO features Douthat and a bunch of young conservatives scolding their elders for buying into the myths Fox perpetuates, and not finding other ways to reach the public:
And this, say next-generation Republicans, is where cocoonism has been detrimental to the cause.
The tension between the profit- and ratings-driven right — call them entertainment-based conservatives — and conservatives focused on ideas (the thinkers) and winning (the operatives) has never been more evident.
The latter group worries that too many on the right are credulous about the former.
“Dick Morris is a joke to every smart conservative in Washington and most every smart conservative under the age of 40 in America,” said Douthat. “The problem is that most of the people watching Dick Morris don’t know that.”
The egghead-hack coalition believes that the entertainment-based conservatives create an atmosphere that enables flawed down-ballot candidates, creates a cartoonish presidential primary and blocks needed policy reforms, and generally leave an odor on the party that turns off swing voters.
It even fosters an atmosphere in which there’s a disconnect with the ostensible party leaders.
Even big-ticket donors have bought into this disconnect, surrounding themselves with Fox news, talk radio and their "apocalyptic" vision. They entered the bubble wiilingly, right along with the party rank and file.
In the Washington Post, there's a profile of Beth Cox, a member of the GOP faithful who personally bought into the bubble created by the conservative media--now she is devastated by what she sees.
She turned on her computer and pulled up an electoral map that she had filled out a few days before the election. She had predicted the outcome twice — once coming up with a narrow Romney win and once more with a blowout.
Virginia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin: all red.
Everything in her version of America had confirmed her predictions: the confident anchors on Fox News; the Republican pollsters so sure of their data; the two-hour line outside her voting precinct, where Romney supporters hugged and honked for her handmade signs during a celebration that lasted until the results started coming in after sundown. Romney’s thorough defeat had come more as a shock than as a disappointment, and now Cox stared at the actual results on her computer and tried to imagine what the majority of her country believed.
Cox recognized that much of the blame lay at her own party's feet:
She blamed some of the divisiveness on Republicans. The party had gotten “way too white,” she said, and she hoped it would never again run a presidential ticket without including a woman or a minority. The tea party was an extremist movement that needed to be “neutralized,” she said, and Romney’s campaign had suffered irreparable damage when high-profile Republicans spoke about “crazy immigration talk and legitimate rape.”