"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," he said. "And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."
Well, yes…and not necessarily. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has another survey, out this week, that’s informative, if you don’t misinterpret the findings. The clearest finding is that the Internet is becoming more of the medium for news for many folks than television. It certainly hasn’t overtaken it among all groups, though it has among people 19-29 years old. And even that conclusion is somewhat suspect. After all, you can watch a TV program online. Who gets the credit as the source—TV or “the internet”?
This fuzzy conclusion gets more obscured when you read about the internet’s supremacy over newspapers, which applies to the overall population, though not among the 50+ set. After all, whereas most folks don’t go to the internet to watch TV, I’ll bet a sizable portion of those who look for news online indeed go to newspapers sites. Which makes the conclusions here a little misleading.
[M]ore people continue to cite the internet than newspapers as their main source of news, reflecting both the growth of the internet, and the gradual decline in newspaper readership (from 34% in 2007 to 31% now).
…The internet also has grown as a news source for people ages 50 to 64; currently 34% say the internet is their main source of national and international news, nearly equal to the number who cite newspapers (38%), though still far below television (71%). There has been relatively little change in the how people age 65 and older get their news. The internet has risen to 14% from 5% in 2007, but is still far behind newspapers (47%) and television (79%) as a main source.
I wish the good folks at the Pew center (and I love their work) would have worded it differently. But reading further, there are nuggets that should influence how political questions are debated.
College graduates are about as likely to get most of their national and international news from the internet (51%) as television (54%). Those with some college are just as likely as college grads to cite the internet as their main source (51%), while 63% cite television. By contrast, just 29% of those with no more than a high school education cite the internet while more than twice as many (75%) cite television.
For political operatives that may mean deploying different spokespeople for different media. For example, if it’s the lower middle class you want to target, send those folks who can sound as if they are one of them. I don’t mean that condescendingly. Joe Biden may make a good source on TV news because he has a working class persona, whereas John Kerry may not.
There is some unabashed good news in the survey results.
Reflecting the slow decline in the proportion of people getting most of their national and international news from television, the numbers specifically citing cable news outlets or broadcast networks as their main news source has fallen. When asked where on television they get most of their news, 36% name a cable network such as CNN, the Fox News Channel or MSNBC; 22% name ABC News, CBS News or NBC News; and 16% say they get most of their national and international news from local news programming.
TV is constrained by its format. Rarely are issues covered in-depth and without prejudice or bias. If more people read the news online, they would be caught up in the world of hyperlinks, taking them to new sources that allow them to gain more knowledge and hopefully a broader range of viewpoints, though that’s not guaranteed.
But here’s the best news. The percentage of people who say they get their news from radio has remained constant over the past 20 years. Alas, they all aren’t listening to NPR; many are Limbaugh ditto-heads. According to Carroll Doherty of the Pew Center, NPR’s audience mirrors the general demographics of the population, so both young and old are listening. Why has radio remained constant? Because traffic hasn’t improved most places. Radio listeners tend to be in their cars at the time.
As the oil spill grows more menacing by the day, experts such as David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have “grave concern.”
"I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling."
But what does he know compared to that jack of all trades, Rush Limbaugh.
"The ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and left out there. It’s natural. It’s as natural as the ocean water is."
Hat tip to Political Wire.
Here’s Rush Limbaugh
The president is trying to trick Rush Limbaugh into talking about himself and would rather engage in "character assassination" than debate conservatives in the "Arena of Ideas," the conservative talker charges in an e-mail to POLITICO.
There was a time when an reporter/writer worth his salt would follow that lede with “…a curious charge from an entertainer who makes his living assassinating characters.”
David Frum, the conservative speechwriter for W, who criticized Congressional Republicans for their healthcare strategy, has lost his job at the American Enterprise Institute due to AEI donor pressure. In an interview with ABC (I can’t get the embed to work), he makes an astute observation.
Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. And this balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.
Fox is the 800 lb. gorilla of the right. (Rush Limbaugh is the 700 lb. gorilla, though he looks like he’s put on a few pounds lately.) I don’t watch Fox enough to know if it ever criticizes the GOP Congressional leadership for being too extreme, but if its right-wing agenda is putting the GOP in a box with a padlock on it, the implications for both are intriguing.
If some of the more moderate Republicans start to exert themselves, can they withstand the Fox assault? If they begin to boycott Fox because they would get pummeled, can the network sustain itself with only the most strident voices? I’m told that Fox actually has a good following among independent voters. Will they desert the network if it is only the wing nuts? GOP leadership as guests must give it some seal of approval to independents, and if they leave, will a part of its audience?
MSNBC, most notably Chris Matthews, has a few right-of-center guests. I’m not sure if Rachel Maddow tries hard to get the other side and is shunned. I wouldn’t be surprised if Olbermann avoids them; he seems only capable of pandering questions to the left. Matthews and especially Maddow can hold their own, so it’s a disappointment to me that she doesn’t have more opponents on her show. But MSNBC has been critical of Democrats, especially the president and conservative Dems. (I’ve rarely seen its hosts criticize the most liberal Dems, unless it was Rep. Kucinich for threatening to vote against the healthcare bill.)
If the GOP leadership were smart, they’d go on Fox and push back. If they were smart…
An open letter to The Washington Post:
I met the problem newspapers like The Washington Post face. She is a 30-ish admissions nurse at Inova Hospital.
I was sitting in her office clutching The Post and the Wall Street Journal, my hands gray with newsprint. She noticed and volunteered, “I stopped my subscription recently because the paper was all yesterday’s news.” She confirmed to me that she gets her news online.
The most obvious way to profit from readers like her is to give her information she can’t readily get elsewhere or charge for online content. Maybe you put it in newsprint before going online with it, if you think newsprint is your future.
I suggest you might save both your newsprint and online real estate for stories that readers like her care about. Dan Balz’s article about a “pep rally” is a case in point. I understand that The Post’s reputation has been built on its reporting of politics, but that’s no longer helpful for two reasons.
One, Politico, Huffington Post, blogs, etc. give us more and faster.
Two, politics has become so predictable and offensive. Writing an article that’s nothing more than dueling talking points probably holds little interest for most of your readers. Exactly how many of them care to hear the partisan tit-for-tat about what might happen a year from now? And even “Republicans acknowledge that events could change the political landscape before next November.” In March 2007, a year before Obama’s breakthrough victories in the primaries, who would have bet on his being president? Still, let’s assume such navel gazing matters to political insiders. Count them all. I’m sure there are thousands. Are there enough to save The Post?
Now consider Shear and Eggen’s story this morning. There is no news there except the coordinated effort by healthcare opponents to tie the recent mammogram study to “healthcare rationing.” And The Post dutifully obliged to help that effort with front page placement. The lede has no news hook: “opponents stepped up efforts to define the legislation as big-government ambition run amok that will interfere with intimate medical decisions and threaten the pocketbooks of average taxpayers.” Is that news? Increased taxes had never been mentioned before yesterday? “Stepped up efforts”? I was unaware opponents were holding their powder before yesterday. The story is “fair and balanced,” if that’s your criteria for good journalism. But is this story of any value to my admissions nurse? It certainly helped “radio show host Rush Limbaugh and Fox News host Glenn Beck,” who again seem to act as The Post’s assignment editors.
I might argue with at least one point in the article: “Obama administration officials [say the] U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which issued the [mammogram] guidelines, has no power to affect coverage decisions by insurance companies.” In fact, insurance companies could use the results of the task force as a rationale to cut coverage for mammograms for women under 50.
But my complaint is not about any partisan slant or arguable point. Nor is it with any of these reporters. My problem is their talents are going to waste because of bad decisions about what content readers want. That ultimately rests with Mr. Brauchli. Maybe he needs a push from the national editors.
Maybe readers want more critical analysis of the big issues of our day, which I seem to get more of in Post columns than I do in daily stories. Or maybe it’s a curriculum change being considered by the local school board. I don’t know, but surely it isn’t what The Post has done for decades. That’s over. You’ve lost that war, at least for your newsprint edition. And I would argue that getting the story about the Republican governors’ conference on your web site faster isn’t the answer, either.
David Brooks has a column this morning arguing that rancid radio and caustic cable shows really don’t have much power and that the GOP leadership should ignore them. Of course, Rush Limbaugh shot back, arguing that more people listen to him than read Brook’s column. That may be true. But Brook’s article has one line in his column, referring to GOP politicians, that I think is brilliant.
They mistake media for reality.
Now you might argue that reality has nothing to do with legislation or elections for that matter. I’ll leave it to you to argue with Brooks.