Tuesday, September 14, 2004

more sword-falling-on discussion

Stanly Kurtz discusses my theory that CBS is falling on the sword for John Kerry (uncredited, I might add). Kurtz disagrees. He argues instead that the MSM is trying to please its main audience, liberal Democrats, and that they are actually working to maintain their market share, not to elect Kerry.

The problem with this argument is that it requires enormously poor business acumen from all three networks. The three networks divide up the available news audience along fairly arbitrary lines because they are practically indistinguishable. If they really did believe that they were losing all of their audience except liberal Democrats, there would be a huge advantage for one of them to go conservative (or at least genuinely unbiased).

This would give the defecting network about forty percent of the potential audience (conservatives). Another twenty percent (non-liberals) would begin to view the network news world as a duality: they could watch the defector or they could watch one of the other two. Either/or. So the defector would get another ten percent. That leaves the two remaining networks to divide up the remaining fifty percent among themselves. The history of Fox News shows that there is a real market for a defector.

The fact that none of the networks has defected in this way suggests that they don't really see what's going on. They still think they are unbiased. They still think people who are attracted to Fox News are partisans that prefer Republican propaganda to real news.

If they saw things the way Kurtz does, and if they were really interested in market share, they would defect.

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