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November 28, 2010

Comments

I see only one big problem with your theory; it assumes that profitability for FNC is the primary driving factor. That seems like a questionable assumption. Few people create a massive political media empire just to make money selling viewers' eyeballs to advertisers. Even if you assume that the goal is money rather than power, it seems to me that there's probably more money to be made by controlling the government than by running a cable news network. I'm sure that a businessman as savvy as Rupert Murdoch can figure out a way for some part of his empire to make a ton of money if his puppet is President.

And that's assuming that Republican control would be bad for Fox. I don't seem to remember any lack of FNC viewers during George Bush's heyday. That makes sense. Having the Democrats in charge may make it easier to stoke resentment, but it's by no means necessary. No matter how well the Tea Party is doing, I'm sure that FNC will find a way of turning every minor bump in their path into the worst thing ever.

Having studied a fair amount about Murdoch the man, although I make no claims to even mild expertise, I wish to be clear, I'm inclined to think that his motivations are largely simply a bunch of individual quirks, which are summarizable as: make as much money as he can in the ways he thinks will work best, based upon his formative experiences in publishing and Australian media, while following certain notions about management and, well, just personal preferences, and that his politics are almost entirely a matter of simply wanting to have as much influence as possible so as to help himself, and because it's part of who he wants to be: powerful and influential. For its own sake.

After all that, sure, he has some political leanings, absolutely, and mostly ones we're in strong disagreement.

But my impression is that on his list of priorities, politics is somewhere near the border of one and two digits.

I could absolutely be 100% off-base. I've read several biographies of him, and a lot of lengthy smaller works, and a lot of context, which is enough for me to state an opinion, but not being a mind-reader, it's fair to just call it a guess.

"So why would Murdoch possibly want to promote a Palin candidacy?"

Not short enough me: I blame Roger Ailes, not Rupert Murdoch. Fox News tv is Ailes in terms of political preference; Murdoch is an accomodationist to whomever is in power, be it Blair, Clinton, Bush, just whomever is either in power or in the running and and looks to him as having the best chance of next or soon being in power.

Insofar as Murdoch is concerned by putting all those Republicans on the payroll, it's simply to cover all the bets he finds most preferable, but he was perfectly happy to slather Tony Blair for all the years Blair was in power, and has been quite supportive at times of Senator Clinton, Bill Clinton and other Democrats, so I'm unconvinced Murdoch's motivations are primarily political.

Whereas Ailes is a complete political animal; money only matters to him insofar as it's nice, but it's secondary to politics.

That's a an opinion I'll back with a gazillion cites, and strongly.

In the UK Rupert seems to really likes the idea that he is the kingmaker and no one can become prime minister without his endorsement. Party leaders and prime ministers go to meet him on his yacht - he doesn't go to meet them.

All he does with this power is make himself more powerful - restrictions on media consolidation get removed. The money for the BBC gets squeezed. Government commissions get set up to investigate whether the success of the BBC is unfair competition for commercial enterprise.

Remember he knows that what sells newspapers is sensation. Reinforcing their prejudices will sell far more papers than educating or informing. Expect lots of populist resentment of Bankers. He wants the big money men to have to come and kowtow to him to get their bills passed.

Expect a big push in Murdoch owned TV stations for blacks and hispanics. These will have a different set of bogey men for their viewers to resent from those on Fox News and will promote a bunch of candidates to stand in the Democratic primaries - candidates who will owe their success to Murdoch as much as the tea party candidates do.

Gary:

I believe you about both Murdoch and Ailes. But then the question becomes, why would Ailes want to promote Palin? She makes more sense as a grifter, helping Murdoch soak the base while torpedoing the Republicans' chances of success in 2012, than she does as a politician. If Ailes wants power -- and wants other Republicans to have power -- he wouldn't be promoting someone who strongly repels 60% of the country, even if the twenty-seven-percenters love her.

Does the wealthy eliti Murdoch realize that many of the people now without jobs are his blue collar, rural audience, who are increasingly unable to afford satellite or cable.
The number of rabbit ear broadcasts customers decreases as those types of broadcasters, who don’t invest in reaching a wider, nonexistent audience, disappear. And rural areas have never had rabbit ear broadcasting.

I would love to see some numbers, is Murdoch destroying his own audience by supporting the TeePeeers agenda?

"anointed"

Pet peeve of mine; sorry.

Oh, and the reading Andrew Sullivan bit? I suggest you lose it, lest you fall into the habit of contemplating Sarah Palin's uterus.

Denizens of the blogosphere and DC insiders really overvalue the reach and influence of Fox News and cable news in general on the average voter.

Fox News averaged roughly three million viewers in the week before the election. That's only impressive if you compare it to MSNBC/CNN/Etc. For comparison, Fox Network's show Fringe averages around five million viewers and its ratings are considered marginal.

Yes, but the overlap between "FOX News viewers/likely voters" might be significantly different between that of "'Fringe' viewers/likely voters."

Denizens of the blogosphere and DC insiders really overvalue the reach and influence of Fox News and cable news in general on the average voter.

Balderdash! Don't you realize that Fox News is singlehandedly manipulating the opinions of a majority of American voters?

On some level I think FoxNews is counted as over-influential only because other media outlets like to think they themselves are influential. Rush Limbaugh has about 14 million listeners a week. That dwarfs FoxNews.

I'm glad other commenters have pointed out that FNC reaches a really small number of people. I don't think that necessarily invalidates Dr Science's point, but I am curious about how it changes the mechanism. Is the idea here that political elites disproportionately watch cable news in general and are also innumerate so they just assume that FNC has a much larger reach than it does? Is that assumption the mechanism by which FNC actually exerts power?

For crying out loud, Slarti. This is why it's so hard to engage with you: much of the time, your points are clear, well-thought-out, and reasonable. Then you go and troll like that. I can rarely tell when you're arguing in good faith, but it's obvious you're not right now.

Seriously, nobody on this thread or any other I've seen on ObWi ever says that, "Fox News is singlehandedly manipulating the opinions of a majority of American voters."

The charge is that Fox News is influencing a majority of Republicans. The subject of deliberation is the motive behind this and its implications. Rather than address that, let alone refute it, you simply beat up on yet another strawman. Again.

Do you wish to refute that Fox News is exercising a good deal of influence on Republican voters or that Fox News' viewers, particularly those for whom Fox is their only news source, are the GOP's base? Do you have anything to add as regards Fox's motives or the situation's implications for upcoming elections?

No? Well, how about you just articulate a position nobody has taken and mock that as evidence of the DFHs' paranoia. Since nobody (well, nobody whose opinion matters) could take seriously the notion that Fox News exerts influence over the GOP's base. There's a useful contribution, thanks!

One thing I am struck by when I travel back home is that though Fox may have a small demographic, it seems to be on in every damn airport and a hell of a lot of hotels. If I didn't know better, I'd assume that every other person was watching it. Which might be the point, in that it is not getting everyone to watch it, but to get everyone to think that everyone else is watching it.

Rupert Murdoch has run a broadsheet newspaper here in Australia, The Australian, which has lost money for over 40 years, but which has also run a consistently right-wing line and attempted (sometimes successfully) to influence Australian governments. I think he does it for fun, not money.
No link, because I would not give it the traffic.

RobW: "Rather than address that, let alone refute it, you simply beat up on yet another strawman. Again."

I took it as a simple joke, myself. No, I don't have the same POV as Slartibartast in many things, but it's still a joke, or, at worst, an attempted joke, whether you find it funny, not in the least, or offensive.

"The charge is that Fox News is influencing a majority of Republicans. The subject of deliberation is the motive behind this and its implications. Rather than address that, let alone refute it, you simply beat up on yet another strawman. Again."

If that is the charge isn't it a rather bad one considering how low Fox News' viewership is? (Unless you have a rather low bar for 'influences') Which is why Slarti's joke is actually funnyish: you and others seem to take Fox News a lot more seriously than its audience would seem to warrant.

I think Phil’s point is right-on.

Fox is able to insert narratives into the political discourse, in an impressive manner. The “death panels” may have begun with Palin, was decimated by Fox. The Acorn story and many others like it, could only exist because Fox gave them life.

Fox is the epistemological source for about 25% of the voting public.

"Fox is the epistemological source for about 25% of the voting public."

Is there an authoritative source for this?

Gary: That you took it as a joke doesn't mean it wasn't yet another strawman attack. I'm not offended by it on your behalf; it's offensive by itself.

Sebastian:

Is not Fox News' viewership higher than every other cable news network? Why, yes, it is. Perhaps it's true that cable news generally is not as influential on voters as believed, but if any of them has any influence at all, isn't it rational that the network with the largest audience would have the most influence?

Also, consider who that audience is.

That the hard number may be low relative to the number of American voters is irrelevant to the question of how much influence Fox and its audience exert over the GOP.

People who watch cable news at all are not typical voters. They are more active, more engaged, and therefore more influential themselves among the like-minded voters in their personal lives. They are, as the post notes, the base. The core supporters of either party, the ones who influence other voters around them, whether by raising political topics in conversations, blogging, campaigning, etc. My opinion is that they are far more influential on the GOP than their numbers alone would suggest. And sure, I could be wrong.

And the people who play that role in the GOP are largely Fox and Fox-only viewers.

Children, don't fuss! I can get that in RL.

Meanwhile: my experience is in line with liberal japonicus'. Fox may not have many viewers compared to broadcast news -- though bear in mind that Nielsen doesn't track people older than 54 -- but it is extremely common in public spaces, especially in the South. I also have the impression that FoxNews viewers tend to be addicted -- they watch constantly, obsessively.

"People who watch cable news at all are not typical voters. They are, as the post notes, the base. The core supporters of either party, the ones who influence other voters around them, whether by raising political topics in conversations, blogging, campaigning, etc."

Funny, these sound like active, informed, thoughtful people. As opposed to the mindless, dull, easily duped, elderly white male Tea Partiers being led to the polls like cattle to the slaughter who are usually cursed as the typical Fox News viewers.

It appears to me that it's time to strip Murdoch of his citizenship.

Here's Marty's authoritative source -- a Pew Poll.

The interesting figure there, IMHO, is the proportion of users of a given source who cite it for a mix or all of the possible reasons. In other words, that source is, for them, a one-stop shop. Fox News, the New York Times, and NPR are the major ones -- and IMHO Fox has by *far* the most unified message of these sources.

Crucially:

Partisan gaps in media credibility continue to grow, with Republicans far more skeptical of most major news sources than Democrats. The one exception is Fox News, which twice as many Republicans believe all or most of (41%) than Democrats (21%).

you and others seem to take Fox News a lot more seriously than its audience would seem to warrant.

Oh, and to this: Have you seen Glenn Beck's fanbase? Have you been paying attention to what the Tea People and their candidates say about their own movement's insurgent and revolutionary nature? Have you noticed the crazy?

Have you noticed the constant assertion from Republicans that there is NO other trustworthy news media besides Fox News? That Glen Beck is an educator, bravely speaking truth to power?

But it's me who takes them too seriously.

I take them seriously at all because I take them at their word that they fully intend to take back their country from people like me, because apparently it's not our country. I also take quite seriously their habit of waving guns around while spouting violent rhetoric in the context of domestic politics. It's a bald-faced attempt at influence over the polity through straight-up physical intimidation of the opposition.

The Tea Partiers constantly tell me, through Fox News, that they are a real danger to me. They are trying to insert the threat of physical violence into the political arena, and Fox News, in contrast to the constant denunciations of uncivil language that the Dems and other media bring down on those crazy liberals, promotes them every step of the way. There is nothing the Tea People can do that is beyond the pale for Fox.

If not for Fox's promotion, they'd be properly marginalized, not poised to take over your party.

You're goddamned right I take Fox seriously.

Both the core voters and the leadership of the Republican party reject all but one TV news channel as legit, and that channel is essentially a propaganda machine. The faction of the GOP that is most insurgent and potentially violent is the faction that this propaganda machine has chosen to align itself with and whose radical agenda they've chosen to promote.

And it's clearly working: this once-marginal radical faction is apparently more influential over the party's caucus now than such people as Brent Scowcroft, James Baker, Henry goddamned Kissinger, and Karl Rove.

So, why on earth wouldn't I take that seriously? Why don't you?

Ok, I'm done now. My thanks go out to our hosts for the ventilation forum. I feel better now.

FWIW, I agree wholeheartedly with RobW's rant. Fox's influence exceeds the simple numbers of viewers. They are relentless in their drive to set the narrative. Without them, I'd never have known that I'm a socialist monster bent on destroying America by advocating single payer healthcare.

Doc, thanks. That is a fascinating report. It both supports and debunks myths regularly assumed in these threads. A few excerpts I thought interesting:

Audiences and Political Labels

Asked whether certain political labels applied to them, majorities of Americans say they are environmentalists (60%) or are pro-business (56%). About four-in-ten say they are Christian conservatives (43%), progressive (41%), NRA supporters (40%), or gay rights supporters (40%). Fewer say they are supporters of the Tea Party movement (25%) or that they are libertarian (18%).

Most See Some News Sources as More Trustworthy

Most Americans say they trust certain news sources more than others. Currently, 57% express this view, up slightly from 53% in 2008. About four-in-ten (39%) say they see all the news media as “pretty much the same.” That is down slightly from 43% in 2008 and 45% in 2006.

About three-quarters of conservative Republicans (76%) and 69% of liberal Democrats say they trust a few news sources more than others. Smaller majorities of other political groups express this view.

While there has been little change among Democratic groups on this question since 2008, an increasing number of conservative Republicans say they trust a few sources more than others; 76% express that view currently, compared with 65% in 2008.

Those with a college degree or more education are more likely than those with less education to say they trust certain sources more than others. Three-quarters (75%) of those with at least a college degree say they trust certain sources more, up from 69% in 2008. About six-in-ten (59%) of those with some college experience say this, as do 43% of those with a high school diploma or less education. Those numbers are little changed from 2008.

(italics mine)

And to finish that thought:

Majority Sees Bias in News Coverage About eight-in-ten Americans (82%) say they see at least some bias in news coverage – 52% say they see a lot and 30% say they see some. By a wide margin, those who see bias in news coverage say it is a liberal bias; 43% of the public says there is more of a liberal bias while just 23% see more of a conservative bias.

Republicans, especially conservative Republicans, are more likely than other political groups to say they see a lot of press bias. More than six-in-ten Republicans (62%) say this, compared with 47% of Democrats and 53% of independents. About seven-in-ten Republicans (69%) say that bias tilts liberal. Among conservative Republicans, 72% see a lot of bias in news coverage and 79% say that bias tilts liberal.

Nearly half of Democrats (47%) say they see a lot of bias in coverage, while another 33% see some. Slightly more Democrats say they see a conservative bias (36%) than a liberal bias (28%).

But by nearly two-to-one (41% to 22%), more liberal Democrats see a conservative bias in news coverage than a liberal bias.

Independents largely mirror the public as a whole: 53% see a lot of bias and 30% see some. Fully 44% say that bias tilts liberal, while 21% say it tilts conservative.

Fewer of those with a high school degree or less say they see at least some bias than those with some college experience or a college degree or more education. About four-in-ten (39%) of those with a high school degree or less education say they see a lot of bias, compared with 58% of those with some college experience and 64% of those with a college degree or more education.

About half of those with at least a college degree (51%) say the bias tilts liberal, compared with 35% of those with no more than a high school education. Among those with some college experience, 48% perceive a liberal tilt.

And these are the tidbits that don't point out that watching Fox News and watching Glenn Beck are two different things, have very different numbers of viewers and should be treated as such. Glenn Beck has barely more viewership than Maddow and they both have barely more in any numerical terms than The Daily Show. (And for those who are so excited about thos eyoung voters scan to see how informed they actually are on average.)

Thanks again Doc, I will spend days rereading this.

Funny, these sound like active, informed, thoughtful people. As opposed to the mindless, dull, easily duped, elderly white male Tea Partiers being led to the polls like cattle to the slaughter who are usually cursed as the typical Fox News viewers.

Right, Marty. Because being obsessively political and activist is always associated with thoughtfulness. Did I say TP'ers were mindless, dull, duped? No, I didn't, but I'll accept "duped" since you brought it up.

I said cable news viewers were active and engaged. By that, I mean these are the folks who tend to start political conversations in the first place. Engage the people around them in debates. Ruin Thanksgiving Dinner with rants about the Kenyan Usurper. Write crank letters to their local newspaper or congressvarmint. Comment and reply on blogs like this.

"Active and engaged" is not the same as "thoughtful and informed." One can be quite active and engaged while remaining uninformed and thoughtless.

The Tea Party/Fox News dynamic is actually the best evidence for this.

Oh, and over-the-top exaggerated mischaracterizations of someone else's comment is no better than Slarti's strawmen. If you can't make a point without mis-stating AND exaggerating then you don't actually have one, now do you?

One thing I am struck by when I travel back home is that though Fox may have a small demographic, it seems to be on in every damn airport and a hell of a lot of hotels.

In my experience, it gets an awful lot of play in public spaces on Army bases, too. Probably 2-to-1 over other cable news, if I can throw out totally unsupported anecdata. Admittedly, it's also my experience that if base policy allows non-news television in said areas, that's usually what you see. But still.

""Active and engaged" is not the same as "thoughtful and informed." One can be quite active and engaged while remaining uninformed and thoughtless.

The Tea Party/Fox News dynamic is actually the best evidence for this."

Funny RobW, for something I mischaracterized you certainly seem to be supporting my point. It is frightening sometimes when people are informed ans still diagree with you.

I find the notion of being "informed" by cable news in general, let alone FNC, to be hilarious. I guess in between Cialis advertisements and "Missing white woman!" stories of the day, some "information" leaks through, but on the few occasions when I've watched cable news present on topics for which I had substantial expertise, my sense has always been that cable news is run by very very ignorant people who do nothing but screech conventional wisdom at high volume and high velocity.

I'm curious if anyone has had the opposite experience.

Does the viewing and listening public know what the exact objective centerpoint of bias on any issue is?

Has anyone done a poll of media personalities to learn their opinions regarding the bias of the public. I mean we have Roger Ailes providing his purely objective opinion of NPR"s Jew-burning predilictions, and I guess we know his purely objective opinions regarding the purely objective opinions of the FOX audience.

Show me one individual in the world who is not biased. In other words, who gives a crap what the public thinks about bias.

Why are we asking the public about objectivity in media.

The public is full of sh*t.

Countme--In ,

Shame on me but, are you a part of the public?

You bet.

Marty, you are you, and I'm me. Tell me what the exact centerpoint of objective truth is between the two of us.

The public is nothing more than a gland.

You can't poll a gland.

CM,

Not sure I disagree a lot, certainly can't find the middle. I found it interesting that the more educated one is the more they perceive liberal bias in the media:

About half of those with at least a college degree (51%) say the bias tilts liberal, compared with 35% of those with no more than a high school education. Among those with some college experience, 48% perceive a liberal tilt.

I would guess(unproveable?) most people would have bet the opposite.

Marty, this is because reality has a liberal bias.

It both supports and debunks myths regularly assumed in these threads.
It's helpful to read all the Pew reports, and keep up with them as they come out, and, best, been doing so for many years.

But there's no time like the present for starting, and now that you're aware of Pew you can be that much more fact-based as regards what "people" think. Recommended site!

If you want to get an accurate picture of the influence that Fox News wields you need to look beyond cable viewership to actual rhetoric. Every time Rush or some other Clear Channel personality echoes Fox's language and framing it goes out to a bigger audience than the Nielsens credit. Same goes for Malkin and Drudge and Coulter. Getting the same points from many sources reinforces its apparent credibility for those who lack the data resources to track down the primary sources.

If I had thought a moment, I'd have linked to this, and apologies if I sound at all impatient.

Has anyone noticed how much credit, cable celebrities get for the genesis of the Tea Party/Republican activist, phenomena?

I swear, I thought Ron Paul activists were the ones who started the thing, but the man Ron Paul, has had a very uncomfortable relationship with Fox. His anti-war, anti-Israel stances didn’t fit well with the Neo-conservativism of Fox. It’s like they co-opted the Ron Paul activists, and redirected the sentiment to fit Palin. I still can’t believe how much Palin and Beck have become fused with the Tea Party image. For all the talk of anti-state/libertarian impulses of “the movement” it has become a way for the damaged Republican label (think how damaged it was after 2 wars, and bloated big-government of the Bush decade) to regroup.

Fox made sure the Tea Party avoided the libertarian policies (anti-Israel, anti-Imperial, Anti-Wall Street) but kept the libertarian rhetoric, morphing into a Republican Neoconservative (pro-Israel, pro-military, pro-authoritarian, pro-Corporate) movement.

This is why it's so hard to engage with you

Because you can't recognize the sarcasm without me closing tags?

If I need to spell it out to make it clear that I'm being sarcastic in a given comment and not "engaging", fine.

For all the talk of anti-state/libertarian impulses of “the movement” it has become a way for the damaged Republican label (think how damaged it was after 2 wars, and bloated big-government of the Bush decade) to regroup.

the "tea party" has never been anything more than a re-branding of the GOP. it's the same old crap, but with slightly different slogans on the outside of the box. nobody doubts for a second that a teabagger is a Republican who learned a couple of new phrases to parrot.

Fox made sure the Tea Party avoided the libertarian policies

It's likely that some filtering has been done through the sieve of Fox News, but undoubtedly there has also been some filtering through the collective (although muddy & ill-defined) wishes of the Tea Party movement itself. I think Paul provided some initial impetus to the Tea Party, but lots of people didn't want much to do with him and his occasionally unwise choices in folks with which to buddy up to.

[sarc]
Or maybe he's not racist enough. Pick your favorite reason.
[/sarc]

"...nobody doubts for a second that a teabagger is a Republican who learned a couple of new phrases to parrot."

This turns out not to be true. If it were, there'd be little use to having politics, blogs, or discussing the former on the latter, or elsewhere, because it would turn out we all believe the same thing.

Research suggests otherwise.

"If it were, there'd be little use to having politics, blogs, or discussing the former on the latter, or elsewhere, because it would turn out we all believe the same thing."

Or, you could attempt negotiation with say, Jon Kyl, (pick your own Republican or Joe Lieberman) and decide politics and blogging, or discussing the former on the latter, is of little use because Jon Kyl has decided we all believe the same thing, or else.

"Is not Fox News' viewership higher than every other cable news network? Why, yes, it is. Perhaps it's true that cable news generally is not as influential on voters as believed, but if any of them has any influence at all, isn't it rational that the network with the largest audience would have the most influence?"

"Most" in this context seems sketchy to me. It has about 5 million viewers. I'm not going to your next point until we talk quite a bit more about the bolded point. It may very well be the most influential cable news network, but we haven't established anything but gossip about how influential that is. This strikes me as potentially very classic statistics garbage. I'm not accusing you of it, except in the sense of going along with conventional wisdom, but it definitely irks me.

FoxNews has a tiny audience. Saying that it has very motivated voters doesn't matter much. It is 5 million people (at peak before an election). It is spread across the country. It isn't 5 million people in CA (which would be somewhat noticeable--a bit more than unions in California--though people aren't freaking out much about union influence in California for the most part) or 5 million people in Delaware (which would be overwhelming). It is 5 million people in the whole United States of America.

NPR gets 27 million. Oprah get about 9. Hell, the Ellen show gets almost 3 million.

Rush Limbaugh is thought to have 14 million. (Probably most of the FoxNews watchers listen to him). Sounds to me like he is a much better candidate than FoxNews, frankly.

And if it really is influential in reach wildly out of proportion to its actual audience, could that be because not enough people understand how tiny its audience really is?

There are a huge number of running assumptions in this thread, that are liberal tribe assumptions, and would not last 15 seconds in the obsidianwings comments if they were so unsupported for a mildly conservative point.

Slartibartfast,

"It's likely that some filtering has been done through the sieve of Fox News..."

I think the term “sieve” underestimates the influence Fox has on right-wing activism in the US. The network acts, more as a “sculptor,” than a “filter”.

The rest of your observation is both generous and accurate.

"FOXNews has a tiny audience"

I've sat in a whole lot airports and watched FOXNews with a whole lot of people, and none of them were tiny.

Same goes for bars.

"I need a word not quite as strong as "controlled," but much stronger than "influenced"

The word he probably wants is "shaped", as in "a highly shaped narrative".

Sebastian, by the way, you are absolutely right that Rush Limbaugh is a much better candidate -- for WHAT consequences exactly we can differ on -- but I concede your point.

Despite his ubiquity, Rush has not proven to be much of a kingmaker on the national scale, over the years. Launching memes and sowing attitudes, yes, but not consistently getting actual people into actual office.

'If you want to get an accurate picture of the influence that Fox News wields you need to look beyond cable viewership to actual rhetoric. Every time Rush or some other Clear Channel personality echoes Fox's language and framing it goes out to a bigger audience than the Nielsens credit. Same goes for Malkin and Drudge and Coulter. Getting the same points from many sources reinforces its apparent credibility for those who lack the data resources to track down the primary sources.'

If there is a significantly larger public who are informed and/or influenced primarily by Fox News bias than can be explained by actual viewership numbers, I can see how the above is a reasonable explanation for that.

OTOH, I can also posit that the premise of the post, that Fox News is somehow so influential that it can either select or veto the Republican Party presidential nominee in 2012 is, at best, amusing.

I looked at some of the numbers, and Fox News opinion hosts (Beck, Hannity, and O'Reilly) show anywhere from double to triple the viewers who tune in for MSNBC's opinion hosts (Mathews, Olbermann, and Maddow) and I'm not sure who to look for on the Left to even try to compare to Limbaugh, Drudge, Malkin, and Coulter.

There is a wide range of views shared by Tea Party supporters and, perhaps, the only things common are support for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and adherence to Constitutional principles. This commonality means they tend not to support corporate special interests groups and establishment candidates. Beyond that, individual preferences can be all over the place. And, of course, the entire Republican voter base is not made up of Tea Party supporters and Tea Party supported candidates drew many independent votes in the recent election.

If, for example, I wanted to label myself (which I don't like to do), I might choose something like, left libertarian constitutionalist. This would make many, if not most, Tea Party supporters different from me in many respects, but we would likely end up supporting many common candidates.

I don't look to Fox News to inform me.

If it were, there'd be little use to having politics, blogs, or discussing the former on the latter, or elsewhere, because it would turn out we all believe the same thing.

i'm not quite sure what you're trying to say here.

teabaggers are Republicans* : true or false ?

* - excepting the insane people who claim to be Democrats but always vote Republican.

"teabaggers are Republicans* : true or false ?"

And will all republicans soon be teabaggers?

...or 5 million people in Delaware (which would be overwhelming).

Most of New Jersey would have to move to Delaware to watch FoxNews, making Delaware the most densely populated state by far at roughly 2500 per square mile.

In considering national elections, having all of the 5 million in one state wouldn't be as big a deal as sprinkling 5 million potential and likely votes among many up-for-grabs states.

That said, I kind of doubt that FoxNews has major influence over our domestic politics, but I don't doubt it gives Rupert Murdoch more influence than (I think) he should have.

My own personal speculation/rumination/opinion:

FoxNews being an echo chamber of sorts, it does a lot of reinforcing of what much of its audience already thinks. That's what makes it appealing. It allows some number of people to avoid congnitive dissonance and is selected for viewing through confirmation bias. It's more of a ammeter than a current-control device. And I don't think the meme-dispertion goes just one way. Sometimes Fox feeds Limbaugh et al and sometimes Limbaugh et al feed Fox.

"FoxNews has a tiny audience."

Numbers of individual viewers matter far less in terms of political influence than the secondary, tertiary, and extended effects upon both numbers and influence of the next batch, etc.

If opinion leaders are influenced, their opinions may = anywhere from two other people they ultimately influence, to millions.

What matters is indirect effect, not direct effect.

If everyone who took in information merely engaged in input, with no output, equating all as homogenous makes sense.

Absent that as prevailing conditions, it's observable that viewers are not equal in influence.

Sebastian has more influence than a shut-in who talks to two people. Mike Huckabee has a lot more influence than Sebastian.

This matters.

"And if it really is influential in reach wildly out of proportion to its actual audience, could that be because not enough people understand how tiny its audience really is?"

Assume that's true: it would matter because? Would it change that "it really is influential in reach wildly out of proportion to its actual audience," just as, in fact, that's always been true of any important political journal. It's always been true of The New Republic -- since its founding -- of National Review -- since its founding -- and well, we can run through the history of political journals in the U.S., and comparative influence, as need be.

If this weren't true, again, blogging would make no sense whatever. If everyone has an equal amount of influence upon all others in the world, there's no point in anyone attempting to influence anyone else, since all attempts would simply cancel each other out.

GOB: "Beyond that, individual preferences can be all over the place."

Same is true of any generality such as "the Right" and "the Left."

Thus my finding such paradigms of limited usefulness, unless one is able to address everyone who identifies primarily as such all at once.

Absent those conditions, it's best to address the people one is actually addressing, rather than as stand-ins for anyone else, or for a perceived generic position.

"Despite his ubiquity, Rush has not proven to be much of a kingmaker on the national scale, over the years. Launching memes and sowing attitudes, yes, but not consistently getting actual people into actual office."

Rush Limbaugh's interested, as it happens, in electing Democrats, not Republicans.

Follow the money, and the history. What people say isn't terribly relevant. What they're actually doing, and why, and what that self-interest is, does.

Limbaugh is an entertainer who has found great success in a political context. He's primarily interested in making money.

You make more money as an entertainer when you have a larger audience, and a political commentator has a larger proportional influence when their side is out of power.

If your interest is primarily political, it shows; if your interest is primary economic, it shows.

All one has to do is pay attention to the numbers, history, and behavior in question of the given person or entity to trivially derive who falls primarily in which category.

Roger Ailes is primarily political. Rupert Murdoch is primarily economic. Rush Limbaugh is primarily simply about himself, and he's found a wonderful niche for fame and fortunte that happened to be in politics, which he stumbled into by dint of accident of personal history combined with, yes, long developed skills as a radio entertainer.

Effect matters, and so does intent, if you want to be able to predict future behavior and results with any accuracy.

"teabaggers are Republicans* : true or false ?"

They're not identical sets, so: false.

Try a different Venn diagram, or other paradigm, I suggest.

Perhaps a cunning semantic subterfuge.

Hmm. Link no work?

They're not identical sets, so: false.

Identical? No. But that's missing the point.

Not all Republicans are teabaggers. But nearly all teabaggers are, for all intents and purposes, Republicans. They favor Republican policies, and they vote for Republican or conservative candidates. It doesn't matter what they call themselves--it matters what they do.

In a Venn diagram, the Tea Party circle would be almost completely contained within the Republican Party circle, with only a sliver of the former outside the latter.

There is a wide range of views shared by Tea Party supporters and, perhaps, the only things common are support for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and adherence to Constitutional principles. This commonality means they tend not to support corporate special interests groups and establishment candidates

It's cute that you believe this.

'Identical? No. But that's missing the point.

Not all Republicans are teabaggers. But nearly all teabaggers are, for all intents and purposes, Republicans. They favor Republican policies, and they vote for Republican or conservative candidates. It doesn't matter what they call themselves--it matters what they do.

In a Venn diagram, the Tea Party circle would be almost completely contained within the Republican Party circle, with only a sliver of the former outside the latter.'

But, here's the problem, as I see it, with your short analysis. The two party system, particularly at the national level, requires that you vote for either a republican or a democrat, if you vote at all and you want your vote to count in an actual race. This means I am going to vote republican, not because the candidate is positioned favorably for me, but because the democrat is much farther away from my principles. So, your Venn diagram does indeed have virtually complete overlap of Republican voters with Tea Party supporters, but only with respect to how they voted. If you took the candidates actually supported by the Tea Party and compared them with Republican establishment candidates on their stated political principles (or on the actual behavior of Republican elected officials) the overlap will change drastically. The objective of the Tea Party is to cause a shift of the establishment Republican diagram to be more coincident with the Tea Party principles.

Those who are unhappy with the direction this is taking would probably be actually happy with things if the Tea Party movement had chosen the traditional 'third party' option.

What, precisely, are the Tea Party's concerns, besides opposing the atheist socialist Muslim communist terrorist who's paying off the banksters and buying car companies and fluoridating the water and not torturing enough people and also subjecting Americans to too many searches at airports?

Answer: Not anything, really. The Tea Party is the modern version of the John Birch society, and the dittoheads of the 90s, the Republicans who flip out any time a Democrat's in office, but happily would be supporting everything if the President had an R after their name.

This commonality means they tend not to support corporate special interests groups and establishment candidates

It's cute that you believe this.

Actually, I think what GOB says here is true.

The problem I see with the tea party folks is that they have no particularly constructive plan for getting from where we are now, to where they want us to be. So, there political activity basically consists of supporting political bomb-throwers.

One of two things will happen to whatever bomb-throwers they help into office:

1. They will like the perks and the money and will lose their taste for radical reform
2. They'll be marginalized to the point of being ineffective

Maybe two or three will actually hang in with their principles, figure out how to navigate DC, and make some kind of constructive contribution.

Maybe not even that many. From what I can see, most of the tea party favorites are not bringing resumes of bold and positive change to the table.

It's not a skill set folks often discover all of a sudden upon arriving at the big show.

" It's always been true of The New Republic -- since its founding -- of National Review -- since its founding -- and well, we can run through the history of political journals in the U.S., and comparative influence, as need be."

Isn't it possible that the neither the New Republic nor the National Review are/were particularly influential. I'm happy to give you 'more influential than their number of readers', but that isn't the same as 'particularly influential'.

I'm not totally convinced of it myself, but I'm open to the idea that neither were particularly crucial to vote-getting, and that the only real influence they had was because thirty or forty top-level people in various administrations found the articles interesting. And maybe not even that.

It strikes me as completely possible that the chattering classes are only fooling themselves into believing that the kinds of things they like are actually important.

IF (which I'm not conceding at all), FoxNews is important, it isn't because its audience is large, or generally influential. It is because the political echo chamber has gotten so small, and people have gotten so lazy as to look only there, that the reverberations take a Paris Hilton-like, self proclaimed importance of their own.

And if that is the problem, I'm not certain how to fix it. But I am certain that freaking out about it as if it were true isn't going to help.

Rather than comparing Fox News to Iranian news, consider Italy's media, where Berlusconi owns multiple channels and newspapers, and therefore has managed to stay in power despite a throng of impeachable offenses.

... support for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and adherence to Constitutional principles.

For all I know, that's what the teabaggers THINK they stand for.

But "fiscal responsibility" is not the same thing as tax cuts. "(T)axed (E)nough (A)lready" is not a demand to balance the budget.

Ah, but that's where "limited government" comes in, I hear you cry. Limited government means limited spending. Except the Pentagon is a big part of government; soldiers and generals are government employees; and military spending is government spending.

As for "Constitutional principles", which ones? That Congress has the only power to declare war? That suspects are not "terrorists" until they're convicted in court? That the government must not infringe a woman's right to own a gun, but her right to an abortion is fair game?

If you define words any way you want, you can never be wrong. "Socialist", "American", "elite", "torture", "marriage", and even "news" are words that can be defined in such a way that the teabaggers have a coherent and sane point of view. But short of remaking the language of Shakespeare and Twain, there's no way to see the "Tea Party movement" as anything but either self-delusion or hypocrisy.

--TP

Sebastian:

I'd like to believe you and GoodOleBoy, that FoxNews isn't really very influential. But look at that Pew poll: of specific news sources, FoxNews is *by far* the one with the most regular watchers/readers/listeners, covering 23% of the population. That's a hell of a lot more than 5 million people.

The thing is, cable news is 24/7, and rotation is very heavy -- it always reminds me of a Top-40 station, or even a Top-15. So Nielsen (which again, as I said above, doesn't track people 55+) might say there are only 10 million eyeballs on FN at any one point, but it adds up to a lot more than that in the course of the day. And because of the rapid rotation, every shift of viewers gets the same stories -- and people who have the TV on throughout the day get those stories pounded into them.

Does this not match what you observe?

Another reason it's very easy for liberals to believe that Fox has enormous influence is our relatives. Many people I know have found family visits (e.g. for Thanksgiving) increasingly stressful over the past decade because Fox is on incessantly in their relatives' homes. Even when the TV is off, they can't have a conversation with Fox viewers, because no other source of evidence (except maybe Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal) will be accepted. And even when you're not visiting, there are the email forwards.

"Isn't it possible that the neither the New Republic nor the National Review are/were particularly influential."

What's the politest way to say "no"?

I'll expand when time allows, but, no, it's really not possible. It's documented in too many autobiographies and biographies and official memos. It's a fact. Both magazines.

'FoxNews is *by far* the one with the most regular watchers/readers/listeners, covering 23% of the population. That's a hell of a lot more than 5 million people"


By far seems a stretch:

For the first time in over a decade of tracking both audiences, more Americans say they regularly watch Fox News (23%) than CNN (18%).

And "regular" isn't "constantly", the viewership for any given time slot is less than 5M. Most timeslots are much less. In April from here:

In primetime (8-11PM), Fox News averaged 1.92 million total viewers (485,000 A25-54) to take first place; MSNBC came in second with 785,000 total viewers (239,000 A25-54). CNN came in third in total viewers with 596,000, beating HLN's 512,000; in the A25-54 demo, however, HLN placed third with 166,000 to CNN's 148,000.

Marty:

I don't think it's unfair to say "more than a third again as much" is "by far".

The ratings you cite *do* show curious differences from Pew's results. If the "base population" Pew is trying to assess is the voting-age population, then 23% would be over 50 million people. Even if it's just "people who voted in 2008", that's 30 million people. Yet Nielsen is only finding 2 million viewers during prime time.

I scratch my head, baffled.

Nate:

What, precisely, are the Tea Party's concerns, besides opposing the atheist socialist Muslim communist terrorist who's paying off the banksters and buying car companies and fluoridating the water and not torturing enough people and also subjecting Americans to too many searches at airports?

Answer: Not anything, really. [...]

Better to have stopped with the question. It's a good question.

Seb:

[...] I'm not totally convinced of it myself, but I'm open to the idea that neither were particularly crucial to vote-getting, and that the only real influence they had was because thirty or forty top-level people in various administrations found the articles interesting.
Much closer.

Sorry. I'm having a day of major pain episodes, and this is the length people are getting at the moment, if that, because it's either this or later or not at all.

Seb:

[...]IF (which I'm not conceding at all), FoxNews is important, it isn't because its audience is large, or generally influential. It is because the political echo chamber has gotten so small, and people have gotten so lazy as to look only there, that the reverberations take a Paris Hilton-like, self proclaimed importance of their own.
Better. Closer.

"But look at that Pew poll: of specific news sources, FoxNews is *by far* the one with the most regular watchers/readers/listeners, covering 23% of the population. That's a hell of a lot more than 5 million people."

No, I'm not sure it is, because they didn't define 'regularly' in the poll. People like to say that they pay attention to the news, but often they really don't.

"The thing is, cable news is 24/7, and rotation is very heavy -- it always reminds me of a Top-40 station, or even a Top-15. So Nielsen (which again, as I said above, doesn't track people 55+) might say there are only 10 million eyeballs on FN at any one point, but it adds up to a lot more than that in the course of the day. "

You're *vastly* overestimating the number of eyeballs on Fox news at any one point. There is effectively never 10 million eyeballs on FN at any one point. The number is more typically right around 1.8 million (4 million for their very most popular show O'Riley, 3 million for Beck, and no other show comes close.). And since those shows are clustered on either side of the news shows, it seems very likely that many of those people are watching more than one of the shows. [so 4 million for O'Riley and 2 million for the news isn't 6 million different people]. And also we should be clear about what "at one point" means. The generally used ratings metric for news is "Live + Same Day" which counts: "The number that watched a program either while it was broadcast OR watched via DVR on the same day [through 3AM the next day] the program was broadcast." Which makes sense because you typically won't watch old news if new news is available.

I also strongly suspect that a large number of these viewers are very dedicated news junkie viewers. This means: fewer non dedicated viewers that are being reached for any given ratings point. If Glenn Beck has 3 million viewers to his show, but 2 million of them watch every show, that is less than 1 million of them filtering through every now and then, so the total number of people if you count once or twice a week from those people ends up adding up to a lot less than something like 3million x 5 times a week. And some of them are liberals getting their anger dose! :)

It comes down to, Neilsen thinks there were (at peak before the election) about 5 million viewers. And even if old people are way more likely to watch, how hard do we have to work the numbers to get above 10 million? Something like old people being 6-8 times as likely as under 64 year-olds? I just don't think so. And even then we would only be at 10 million separate viewers.

"Many people I know have found family visits (e.g. for Thanksgiving) increasingly stressful over the past decade because Fox is on incessantly in their relatives' homes. Even when the TV is off, they can't have a conversation with Fox viewers, because no other source of evidence (except maybe Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal) will be accepted."

Again, I think Limbaugh is much more a part of this than FoxNews. He has a regular listenership of almost 3 times FoxNews. He has also been around much longer. Further, for whatever reason (maybe because he is such an experienced speaker), his catch phrases seem to penetrate better than most media personalities.

"Further, for whatever reason (maybe because he is such an experienced speaker), his catch phrases seem to penetrate better than most media personalities."

Rush.

[...] The most elemental fact about the Limbaugh career might be that, outside of seriously corrupt dictatorships, nobody has made as much money from politics as Rush Limbaugh. Since this Top 40 D.J. and local talker in Sacramento went national, in 1988, as a right-wing voice, he has made hundreds of millions of dollars in salary, bonuses, participation in advertising revenue, and the sale of his show to the Sam Zell–controlled Jacor radio production company (Zell, a real-estate entrepreneur, now controls the Chicago Tribune), which was then sold to Clear Channel. His new contract, signed last summer, is worth a reported $400 million over eight years. There are, too, his newsletter, his paid Internet site with its voluminous traffic, his blockbuster best-sellers, his speaking fees, his half-dozen cars, including a Maybach 57S, his Gulfstream G550, and his Palm Beach estate with five houses.

Rush’s business plan seriously impacts on the future of the Republican Party.

Indeed, the extraordinary thing Rush has done, something arguably never before accomplished in the history of the co-dependent relationship of media and politics, is manage to keep his media day job while assuming something rather close to direct political power. Every other entertainer who has discovered a political mission—from Ronald Reagan to Sonny Bono to Al Franken—has had to quit show business and run for office. Not Rush.

Rather, one hand ably washes the other. [....]

Limbaugh:
[...] To many of us, the name "Rush Limbaugh" triggers a call-to-arms that inspires either a stirring defense of America's leading conservative or a passionate missive on America's foremost jackass.

Rush Limbaugh sees himself as neither: "I’m a businessman," he told The New York Times. "My first goal is to attract the largest possible audience so I can charge confiscatory ad rates. I happen to have great entertainment skills, but that enables me to sell airtime.”

Add "modest" to our growing list of perceptions about him, since "great entertainment skills" is an understatement. His self-described "pompous arrogance shtick" espouses the conservative hard-line with brutal efficacy and slices up enemies with a razor-sharp ability to offend that's on par with Lenny Bruce (though the comparison ends there: Rush Limbaugh is much funnier).

In all likelihood, Rush Limbaugh the radio personality and Rush the man are two separate entities, and there's nothing two-faced or extraordinary about it. If we assumed everyone in show business was precisely how we perceived them, no one would want to spend a moment around Anthony Hopkins for fear of being eaten alive with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

[..]

2- Rush Limbaugh nearly went into the potato chip business
Controversial commentators from both sides of the political spectrum have a common ancestor in Rush Limbaugh, a fact that illustrates his enormous and undeniable influence. However, it almost didn't go down that way at all.

Rush Limbaugh spent the 1970s and the early 1980s as unsuccessful a radio personality as you can imagine. The best he'd done was to land a position working for the Kansas City Royals in the front office, earning a scant $12,000 salary. He was then faced with making a momentous decision: take a job offer paying three times that amount to work in the potato chip distribution business or pass it up and try one more time to find better work on the radio.

That "one more time" was in Sacramento, where he started saying outrageous things that nobody seemed able to ignore. An industry, and its biggest star, was born.

Cheers.

Sebastian:

my figures were out-of-line high because I was assuming an average of 2 eyeballs per viewer. So, 10 million eyeballs = 5 million humans. The joke that must be explained is not the true joke ...

Marty:

It's curious that the ratings show MSNBC as consistently ahead of CNN, but what people *say* they regularly watch is more CNN.

I wonder if perhaps what Pew is getting is a "brand identification", more than anything like an accurate report. That is, conservatives report watching Fox, self-defined moderates report CNN, liberals report MSNBC.

Gary: Better to have stopped with the question. It's a good question.

Probably. Sometimes it's hard to stop once a rant gets rolling, though.

"I wonder if perhaps what Pew is getting is a "brand identification", more than anything like an accurate report. That is, conservatives report watching Fox, self-defined moderates report CNN, liberals report MSNBC."

I think this is right, although I want to take some time this afternoon to reread the Pew report for more information on how it was collected.

"I'm a businessman."

All manner of sh*tty behavior can be subsumed under this statement.

For example, the new Republican Governor of Florida, while running HCA, defrauded Medicare, the taxpayer, and a goodly number of the blue-haired parasites lined up in wheelchairs watching FOXNews (who controls the remote in those death joints?) in their retirement homes and chalks it up to a "business decision".

I think the statement, in Limbaugh's case, is part con too.

Garbage collection is a legitimate "business, too, but it also provides a means of disposing of the murdered.

Here's my warning to Limbaugh, and I paraphrase Hyman Roth:

"This is the business YOU have chosen. It's nothing personal."

So, Rush is an entertainer too? Does that make Glenn Beck Rupert Pupkin?

And Sarah Death Palin is a businesswoman.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/45687.html#ixzz16mDc3gDL

Another reason it's very easy for liberals to believe that Fox has enormous influence is our relatives. Many people I know have found family visits (e.g. for Thanksgiving) increasingly stressful over the past decade because Fox is on incessantly in their relatives' homes. Even when the TV is off, they can't have a conversation with Fox viewers, because no other source of evidence (except maybe Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal) will be accepted. And even when you're not visiting, there are the email forwards.

Have you been following me, Doc Sci?

"Another reason it's very easy for liberals to believe that Fox has enormous influence is our relatives."

Maybe the reason I'm so partial to Rush as an explanation is because I got it from my family before FoxNews even existed. I've been arguing with Rush by proxy through my dad since the early 1990s.

Maybe part of the disjunction here can be traced to Dr Science's claim that Nielson doesn't bother count old viewers. I believe the median age for O'Reilly's show on Fox is 71 which suggests that a huge fraction of Fox viewers are simply never counted by traditional methods.

I think the statement, in Limbaugh's case, is part con too.

I agree.

Limbaugh was made an honorary member of Congress in '94 for his help in getting the Republican majority elected.

Maybe he would have been equally happy to help elect a Democratic majority, but supporting the R's was more likely to boost his ratings.

Somehow I find that unlikely. Not that supporting the R's was good for his bottom line, but that he would have been happy to roll either way.

My interviews with congregants at white evangelical churches, seems to suggest that Fox is considered the “right” secular alternative news source. TBN being the official news sources ;-)

All kidding aside, Fox dominates the white evangelical churches I study. So much so, Fox vignettes are constantly used to add color to July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas services.

So much so, Fox vignettes are constantly used to add color to July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas services.

Interesting. I've been a semi-regular churchgoing kind of guy for at least a decade, now, and I've never once seen any kind of broadcast TV at church, never mind during.

You've got to share your sources, man!

I've never once seen any kind of broadcast TV at church, never mind during.

Slarti, I read that as suggesting that during the sermon, a pastor might drop an anecdote that he heard on Fox (with attribution) rather than playing Fox News live in church. It seems quite plausible to me: at the lefty urban church I attend, references to the New Yorker occasionally pop up in sermons, and IIRC, a piece of the Red Cross report on Abu Zubaydah's torture was even read at a Good Friday service a few years ago.

hairshirt:

Hey, I'm one of the lucky ones. My parents are Lifelong Democrat/Lifelong Socialist, who almost went nuts when old friends visited who wanted to watch MSNBC for 3 hours every night. But we've all got *other* relatives, and those bloody email forwards get *everywhere*.

Marty:

I look forward to hearing what you find out from the Pew data. It occurs to me, double-checking the ratings info, that the Pew pollees may be mentally lumping HLN (=CNN Headling News) in with CNN, and that may account for CNN polling higher than MSNBC.

It seems quite plausible to me: at the lefty urban church I attend, references to the New Yorker occasionally pop up in sermons, and IIRC, a piece of the Red Cross report on Abu Zubaydah's torture was even read at a Good Friday service a few years ago.

I can see how that might happen. One church I attended, the pastor occasionally dropped anecdotes of the kind that you see in emails that get relentlessly forwarded by distant relatives, casual acquaintances, etc that Snopes classifies as "glurge".

Nate:

Sometimes it's hard to stop once a rant gets rolling, though.
I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. None whatever. People do that? Must look into it, watch out for possibility. I'm sure it could never have happened to me.

Doctor Science:

[...] The joke that must be explained is not the true joke ...
On the internet, various readers will never get a joke without explanation. I'm confident there is no joke possible that can't be missed. Thus sufficient readers = missed joke, thus certain percentage of commenters, if sufficient, will express puzzlement where you can see it.

The only variable comes with numbers/types of readers and how the venue affects visible response rate. Though one could get more granular, of course.

Long-winded way of saying: don't sweat that a certain percentage won't get it, because it'll happen, no matter what. Put it the way that works best for you, and your given audience, and eff 'em if they can't take a joke.

Except, of course, for all the exceptions. And I'm hardly a role model to be offering advice on how to avoid being obscure, or how to be funny, or reach the best balance of accessibility and clarity.

Marty:

[...] I think this is right, although I want to take some time this afternoon to reread the Pew report for more information on how it was collected.
Not to, I hope, make it feel that I'm picking on you, because I hope I'm not, but: wrong order. Facts first, think second. All you need to know about how Pew collects data has been right there, available, for decades. I suggest facts first, then theory. Not vice versa.

But kudos on taking the time to look, before coming to a conclusion. I don't mean this to be as condescending as it undoubtedly appears; I'm trying to, despite certain obstacles on my end at the moment, be complimentary, really. I don't mean to be quibbling over your phrasing here, which is probably all I'm doing, on top of being condescending.

Seb: "Maybe the reason I'm so partial to Rush as an explanation is because I got it from my family before FoxNews even existed. I've been arguing with Rush by proxy through my dad since the early 1990s."

I apologize for being up to arguing little substance at present. Gout is arguing a lot with me, particularly since yesterday. For the record, I do think you're severely underestimating the influence of the Fox News channel, but I only mention this as a marker for future conversation. I appreciate your above insight.

Russell to countme--In

[...] I think the statement, in Limbaugh's case, is part con too.

I agree.

I don't believe I was suggesting that anyone should take Rush Limbaugh's word about anything, least of all himself, but if I somehow did, please accept my clarification that I would never make any such suggestion.
[...] Maybe he would have been equally happy to help elect a Democratic majority, but supporting the R's was more likely to boost his ratings.

Somehow I find that unlikely. Not that supporting the R's was good for his bottom line, but that he would have been happy to roll either way.

Same same: would never suggest that, don't think I did, but if I did, I don't. When I suggest a distinction, it doesn't mean I'm suggesting splitting two sides down the middle to derive truth. I don't do that.

Slart:

Interesting. I've been a semi-regular churchgoing kind of guy for at least a decade, now, and I've never once seen any kind of broadcast TV at church, never mind during.
I'm going to go with my guess that you've not engaged in a valid statistical sampling of denominations within 50 miles of you, let alone statewide, let alone countrywide.

I certainly may be wrong, and if you have, my apologies for confusing data with datapoint. I am also not a Christian, and don't attend church, but I do read data on the topic. This may render me biased and lacking insight into the multitude of approaches Christianity's many denominations, sects, and cultures, within the United States, vary so widely, and I may have all sorts of other lacks due to relatively few anecdotes of my own.

And now a feline has an urgent call on what we may laughingly call my "attention."

"But we've all got *other* relatives"

No offense intended, but this is seriously not true of many people.

Slartibartfast,

Turbulence, gots it!

A special holiday sermon, 4th of July, Christmas, Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, …will end with a Fox Special video segment. The 3 churches I’m thinking about…2 are predominantly white…. however, the one that is racially mixed, and run*by a white Pastor, has had some rebellion within his congregation. Fox does not carry the same influence in the Black and Hispanic churches.**


*I use run, because Pentecostal churches are designed like franchises, wherein the Pastor is like a business owner, and other churches in other denominations are not as autonomous.

**My work is looking at how race, ethnicity and politics are discussed in Pentecostal churches. Are uniracial churches that much different from multiracial churches? Stuff like that.

I'm going to go with my guess that you've not engaged in a valid statistical sampling of denominations within 50 miles of you, let alone statewide, let alone countrywide.

That'd be a good guess. I've been to some Catholic churches as well as some of the various Baptist churches, but seldom and few, relatively speaking.

What I was attempting to say was more along the lines of that SOD's sampling and mine seem to enjoy zero overlap, which I thought was strange.

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