I never imagined that I’d find myself quoting Bill’s one-time heart throb (okay, eons of time ago), but using her just happens to suit my purpose. (Guess Bill and I aren’t so different after all….)
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A persistent (make that constant) theme I have extolled in both writing and speaking is that as Conservatives we should not fall prey to the ingrained habit of referring to the all-but-obsolete establishment media as “the mainstream” or “MSM.” Could anything be further from the truth? Stop and think about it for a minute….
As I like to tell audiences, “You’ll never see [David Gregory or Katie Couric, et al.] at a Denny’s!” It isn’t going to happen!
Back during the Roger Staubach Era, the Dallas Cowboys were affectionately referred to as “America’s Team.” As one might imagine, such a moniker would be considered the gold standard in the world of marketing or PR.
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Imagine that you are starting a new grocery store chain, and through a stroke of luck you become known as “America’s Grocer.” Could it get any better than that?
Imagine, on the other hand, that you are one of the “Big Three” television and news networks – NBC, ABC, or CBS. Imagine also that over the past 50 years your viewership has plummeted from a virtual collective dominance of 100% to, say, 25% of the “news”- viewing public.
That would still represent one out of four American adults watching, but put in perspective, three out of four “news”-watchers would have rejected your collective “news” coverage. Not very good!
While that was merely a hypothetical construction on my part, here are some actual numbers for “Evening News Ratings,” obtained at MediaBistro.com:
NBC – 9,640,000 (Total Viewers)
ABC – 8,628,000 ( ” ” )
CBS – 7,482,000 ( ” ” )
Those numbers combined make 25,750,000 out of the current U.S. Population of 315,497,649. The annual population increase is estimated elsewhere (by extension) to be .76%. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the number of adults 18 or over to be 234,564,000 in 2010, which would be roughly 240,000,000 today, in 2013.
Thus the “Big Three” viewers among the total U.S. adult population (over 18) would be approximately 10.7%…far less than my “guesstimate” of 25%.
One site I came across seemed to indicate that some 74% of adults watch at least some news program weekly. According to this site, “CNN (20%) and FOX News (18%) are the television channels adults most often turn to when they want news or information related to politics or public affairs. These are followed by the networks, including ABC (9%), NBC (8%) and CBS (7%). Other channels include MSNBC (5%), C-SPAN (3%), PBS (3%) and CNBC (1%).”
These figures – for those who watch news or “political/public affairs” programs, as opposed to strictly the “Nightly [Network] News” – show an aggregate of 24%of Adults watching the Big Three.
Getting back to the Nightly Network News (America’s staple before Cable and the Internet)…it would appear that my hypothesis was spot on among viewers ages 25-54, whose numbers looked like this:
NBC – 2,643,000
ABC – 2,328,000
CBS – 2,141,000
For a combined total of: 7,112,000
Removing those 18-24 (31,377,456) and those 55 and over (78,516,273), from the total number of those 18 and over (140,000,000), we end up with 30,106,271. Of that number, the 7,112,000 nightly network “news” viewers ages 25-54 make up some 23.6%.
I’m not sure, frankly, why MediaBistro.com chose to include a breakout for that particular statistical bracket – surely those over 54 are still keenly interested in what is going on in their country, even if many of those 18-24 are not – but in either case, the percentage of those watching network news range between an estimated minimum of 10.7% and a maximum of 23.6%.
Enough of statistics already, but I felt the need to support my thesis with more than just my opinion. It would be easy to dismiss my argument (that the Establishment Media is anything but the “mainstream,” and should not be thoughtlessly granted cult-like status by calling it that) as or as merely semantical or “academic.”
To do so, however, would represent a colossal failure to recognize the power of labels, or, in a broader sense, the power of language, or that of thought itself (the subject of my first book series, entitled The Secret of Life – Xlibris, 2008).
For those not versed in the science of the mind, the human subconscious (in contrast with the conscious mind) takes things we say and hear quite literally, as fact, as it were…especially when these “facts” are heard and parroted incessantly, by virtually everyone in the culture, on “both sides of the aisle” – including ourselves!).
Those of us who are parents may be keenly aware of the dramatic power – for better or for worse – of labels. While each of my daughters rightly considers herself to be her dad’s “favorite,” I have nicknames for each of them, as well as for our sons. For the most part these nicknames are more on the “cute” side – some having been derived from the inability of younger siblings to pronounce their older siblings’ names, for example – but one of them simply evolved from my repeatedly calling her “special.”
One day at the grocery store or doctor’s office – I wasn’t there, but received the report from my wife later on – an older woman complimented this particular daughter on her big, beautiful eyes, and asked, “What’s your name, little girl?” To which she replied, with the utmost in child-like sincerity and belief – “Special.” And from that day to this she has officially been known as “Special”…and it seems to have had a profound effect upon her life! (I am proud of each of my children, but I believe the success of this particular one has been directly attributable to the self-affirming “label” she has carried throughout her life.)
I will end my obvious point by reminding each of us that the Obsolete Establishment Media (or OEM) is just that. No, it isn’t 100% obsolete, but when less than 1 in 9, or 1 in 4 adults continue to “tune in” (perhaps tune out reality would be more accurate), it can hardly be called the “mainstream media” or “MSM.” Think of it: either 3 out of 4, or nearly 9 out of 10 “adults” are no longer watching – down from 10 out of 10 (of those who were watching anything in the way of “news”) some 20-30 years ago!
Let me underscore that in another way: 75-90% no longer watch the so-called (absurdly-called) “mainstream” media! So enough of the madness! (Those on the Left, of course, completely accept that they are the “mainstream” – even though polls clearly indicate that self-identifying “Conservatives” outnumber “Liberals” by 2 to 1 – 41% to 21% in 2011.)
Think about that: twice as many Conservatives as Liberals…and yet we refer to those extolling the views of the latter (a mere fifth of the adult population) as the “mainstream.” This is a coup of which both Edward Bernays , the “Father of Propaganda,” and his Nazi adherent Joseph Goebbels would have been extremely proud!
To be continued….
Tom Ballantyne is the author most recently of Uncommon Sense…Apparently! A Call To Arms, and Oh Really, O’Reilly! – both available at Amazon.com and at his website: www.UncommonSenseNow.com.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.