Democrats and Pundits Out of Touch with New Media Reality by Publius Tacitus


Why is Donald Trump winning? It is not because he has some a warm, charming personality. Nope. He understands the 21st Century media reality. That also explains why the Democrats and so many pundits who opine on politics are getting things wrong. The Dems and their pundit lackeys are living with a 1970s view of the media. They do not understand that ship has sailed.

Look first at the numbers of viewers for last night's State of the Union speech. This tells part of the story:

FOXNEWS 11,500,000

NBC               7,100,000

CBS                7,000,000

ABC                5,400,000

FOX                3,600,000

CNN                3,100,000

MSNBC           2,700,000

 That's a total of 40,300,000 viewers. Sounds like a lot. But when you consider the fact that the population in America is approaching 330 million, that's only 12 percent of the population. 

Let's take this to the level of who watches news. There is the assumption among those who turn on FOX or CNN or MSNBC that these outlets are influential in helping set policy and inform political opinion. That may have been true 30 years ago, but it is no longer the case.

Consider these facts.

Twenty-seven million to 29 million viewers, on average, tuned in every night [in the 1970s) to hear Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. Today, though, the viewership of evening news programs on CBS, NBC and ABC combined is smaller than CBS' when Cronkite sat in the anchor's chair. The total numbers for CBS, NBC and ABC approached 49 million.

During the hottest days of the 2016 Presidential campaign, the number of viewers was dramatically lower

NBC     8,037,000

ABC     7,934,000

CBS    6,557,000

FOXNEWS  2,900,000

MSNBC        1,606,000

CNN              1,029,000


Let those numbers sink in. In 1972, when the US population was approaching 210 million, almost 23% of the population watched the evening news. Today the number of people watching news shows has dropped to 8.5% of the population.

Here's another curveball. Rush Limbaugh. According to his latest ratings, 26 million people are listening to him on a daily basis.

Ponder that for a moment. Rush Limbaugh has almost as many listeners as all of the the Cable News and Network news broadcasts combined. 

I think this is what Donald Trump understands. He realizes that the talking head media and panels of ignorant pundits are really an anachronism. No longer relevant to a world where most people do not read books. Instead, their heads are bent over scanning the latest headline to flash across the screen of their ironically named "smart phone." Yes, the phones are far smarter than the average citizen strolling the streets of any community in America.

I suspect that many of you that read this blog are the shrinking minority of those who tune in to watch cable news shoes. Some of you may even double up and watch something on one of the old network news slots. But please understand that you are an oddity. You do not represent the average voter nor the average citizen.

This is the danger we face–there is no longer an authoritative source of news that enjoys the confidence much less awareness of a significant plurality of voters. Ignorance and disinformation prevail. That's why, in part I believe, Trump continues to be more effective and to run circles around the conventional media.

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77 Responses to Democrats and Pundits Out of Touch with New Media Reality by Publius Tacitus

  1. Haralambos says:

    I believe you have hit this spot on. Thank you for presenting this diagnosis so clearly and concisely.

  2. steve says:

    “No longer relevant to a world where most people do not read books.”
    Some days I still find this hard to believe. I just cannot imagine not reading books. But, I think you are correct that Trump not only understands this, he is one with those who don’t read. As much as he comes across as fake to me in a lot of ways, he probably comes across as completely sincere to those, who like him, eschew the written word (in long form).

  3. Eric Newhill says:

    Hannity is the second most listened to radio show; 13.75 million weekly audience – on the air 3 hours a day.
    However, the statistics can be somewhat misleading. Liberals tend to live in big cities and minorities comprise a substantial proportion of the liberal cohort. First, minorities tend to listen to their own ethnic radio and watch ethnic TV stations and news. Second, the listener/viewership is disaggregated because there are simply more choices for the city audience. So Hannity gets 13.75 mil listeners because he’s the only option out there in fly-over land, whereas, in the city, there may be 13.75 million listeners spread across 200+ options (across various cities). No single source of news stands out. What matters is this; are the 200 options united in their liberal message or is it a hodgepodge?
    You’re correct though with regards to young people, who tend to get their news on “smart” phones and facebook. Guess that’s how the Russians influence op was so able to be so devastating to the Clinton campaign 😉
    Getting back to Rush and Hannity; it’s a great business model. You’re pretty much the only option. Then you declare the MSM to be fake biased America hating propaganda. Then your audience takes a look at the MSM and sees the likes of Morning Joe, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, etc and they can’t relate to such people at all, Thus confirming what Rush and Hannity say. Now you’ve got a loyal listenership into perpetuity. The message resonates and sticks.

  4. Fred says:

    That’s the best news the Democratic party has had all week. Best employment numbers for Black Americans in years, Congressional Black Caucus sits on fat asses. Congressman start a chant of “USA, USA” at the point inTrump’s STOTU speech where he is praising veterans and the Congressman representing the “heart of Chicago” walked out.
    “Now in his twelfth term, Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez is the senior member of the Illinois delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is an experienced legislator and energetic spokesman on behalf of his constituents in Illinois’ Fourth District in the heart of Chicago,…” Good thing for him Trump didn’t talk about the thousands of shootings in the “heart of Chicago” while the Honorable member has represented the residents of the city.
    Let’s not forget the #hertoo CYA whitewash she who was not elected put out explaining why she ignored the recommendations of her staff and kept a sexual harasser employed.
    The official party response – was from a multi-millionaire not-white-priveleged Kennedy who couldn’t be bothered to spend a couple hundred bucks on a make-up artist for a nation-wide broadcost. At least the background was correct. I hope he found somebody to get that bitch’n camero running ’cause he sure doesn’t seem to know how those things work.

  5. I get ALL my news from alternative sources. Haven’t watched any network or cable news program in years.
    I may be utterly uninformed about whatever CNN or NBC is pushing at the moment in terms of domestic issues or what used to be called “human interest” or the like, but my understanding of foreign affairs is far greater than it ever was back in the day (70’s-80’s-90’s). And I owe that to blogs like this one and sites like, Counterpunch, Consortium News, Asia Times, and the like.
    The rest I get from pro-RUSSIAN sources like The Saker, Russia Insider and The Duran, because if you weed out the click-bait headlines, the articles are pretty good (although Russia Insider loses it now and then.)
    They had a joke on Crosstalk today where someone referred to “Morning Joke and Meager”, which I cracked up over.

  6. VietnamVet says:

    This is true. In addition, corporate media has been consolidated into five conglomerates. They repeat the same stories. They only diverge from government stenography if it is in their owners’ best interest. Corporate news is diverging from the independent internet. Washington Post; an ongoing attack by the Russian government to publish the classified memo. ZeroHedge; the Democrats want to hide that the FBI used the Steele Dossier paid for by the Clinton Campaign to get a FISA warrant to surveil the Trump Campaign. What is true?
    My sons and I don’t text. Twitter and Facebook are alien to me. I gave up cable news but still watch NBC News and NewsHour and read SST everday. There are whole new ways to communicate. Still, I see burgeoning tribalism that breeds cognitive dissonance and segregation. We are separating into urban and rural; rich and poor; healthy and sick; male and female; white, black and mestizo; clueless or scared; face glued to a screen or not.

  7. JohnH says:

    I’m amazed anyone watches political speeches any more. They must be masochists…or have nothing better to do than watch a narcissist blow smoke, posture and grand stand. I mean, there’s more wholesome entertainment at Netflix or at the library…
    Moral of the story: watch what they do, not what they say.

  8. AEL says:

    Rush Limbaugh is lying about his audience size.
    You can advertise on his network for pennies
    ($1000 on weekends, $8000 – 16,0000 during the week).
    There is no way you can reach 26,000,000 people for that price.
    Either his network is throwing away millions of dollars on missed advertising revenue (unlikely) or they grossly inflate their audience size.

  9. Bandolero says:

    I agree that Donald Trump is understanding the media reality of the 21st Century extraordinary well, and a lot better than most Democrats, and Republicans, and the Borg, and I also agree that there are shifts in what kind of media people consume. But I disagree with the idea that Trump is an internet driven star. His strength is understanding TV. TV, not internet, is what made Trump a star.
    And I also disagree with a conclusion, that media shift factors were and are decisive for Trump winning. I think Trump won and wins, because he has a much better understanding than most Borgs, Democrat and Republican alike, about what important chunks of the electorate bother about.
    Let me give an example. Hillary Clinton said in March 2016 when touring the northwest: “We Are Going To Put A Lot Of Coal Miners & Coal Companies Out Of Business.” See it here:
    That’s while Trump supported coal.
    About five months later team Clinton put out an old video of Trump saying “Grab her by the p*ssy.” As seen for example here:
    I think, though the world is clearly in the mid of a huge media change due to internet, most voters in the US presidential election 2016 had likely heard of both, Clinton’s and Trump’s, toxic word bits. And I think these, representative for their conflictive approach to the world, politics and the US electorate, have likely been decisive.
    Clinton’s and the Dem’s calculus that Clinton will win the majority of votes after publishing Trump’s “Grab her” word bit was basically correct. Clinton won the majority of the votes. However, in the rust belt, where, as I read, there are some people driving around with bumper stickers like “God, Guns & Coal” Clinton’s and the Dems where out of touch not with understanding of the media, but with their should-be blue-collar voters.
    Many of those blue-collar voters in the rust belt knew both statements, and the made a quite well-informed choice. Do we want someone to be President who promised she’s “Going To Put A Lot Of Coal Miners & Coal Companies Out Of Business” or do we want someone to be President who made a couple of years ago a statement of “Grab her by the p*ssy?” Holding their nose many of those blue-collar voters in the rust belt voted for Trump.
    So CLinton won the majority of the vote, but lost the Electoral College. I think that had not much to do with shifting media, but a lot to do with Dems being completely out of touch with their voters.

  10. David E. Solomon says:

    The world is infinitely worse off for every non-reader.
    I cannot imagine a world without books.

  11. JamesT says:

    I rely on SST first and foremost. I blame the 1996 Telecommunications Act for the current state of “mainstream news”.

  12. kooshy says:

    Well, simply said, in this age of internet, and easy access to alternative media and information, if one no longer can legally and forcefully (FCC) control the only sources and pipelines of information and the narrative, then the next best thing is, to turn away public’ interest on knowing the news and current affairs all together. IMO that is what has happened and is happening. That is, till something legal and serious can be done with the internet, and associated information and opinion sources like this site. God forbid, if sometime in future, RSH is called in to explain why his is only source of news is foreign media.

  13. el sid says:

    James T
    Ah, the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Under the Clinton admin, I understnd. Small world, innit?
    And I believe it also scrubbed the meadia’s legal duty and responsibility to accurately report the news.
    No wonder viewrship is down. As is readership of the printed press.
    Seems the Sheeps ain’t as daft as they make us out to be.

  14. JohnB says:

    True …Meanwhile the 1% continues to thrive. The more division there is on race, gender and sexuality etc, etc. The more they can keep control.

  15. JohnB says:

    We will soon know if the Democrats get it or not.
    I will be slightly controversial but the Democrats have there man for 2020 in Joseph Kennedy III and hopefully his running mate will be Tulsi Gabbard. I believe they have worked well together in the past and respect each other.
    Trump would have no chance against that pair. But will the Dems grab it, probably not. However, one can dream.

  16. johnf says:

    I think this Death-of-Books trope among young people is a bit exaggerated.
    The success of Harry Potter suggests that there is a real hunger for books among the young. The values it pushes – the solidarity of the weak against the violent and the oppressors – the importance of self sacrifice and of thinking of others – are hardly Borg-supportive values.
    Again The Hunger Games – which a few years ago you couldn’t get on a bus or tube train without seeing several youngsters devouring it – draws its heroes and warriors from amongst the red neck deplorables – and mercilessly satirizes and dissects the fashions and ruthless power-mongering of the coastal elites. It is reputedly written by a member of Catholic Worker.
    Just as ever-fewer people follow the MSM for their information and are adapting to the many newer forms of media to get their news, so reading choices for the young are no longer decided by an elite in New York. Literary fiction is dying, much more critical political writing now centres around Sci Fi, Fantasy, and other genres. Similarly, at least in Britain, oppositional political ideas thrive on social media, and give immediate access to alternative media articles, videos, speeches and sources of information.

  17. Barbara Ann says:

    You are absolutely right PT – Trump’s real skill is not in the art of dealing, but in the equally ancient art of Rhetoric.
    Dialectic discourse presumes that the protagonists wish to establish ‘the truth’. But in the age of alternative facts and subjective truth, Trump sees that this method of discourse is outmoded – logos is now of little use. Other politicians, HRC included, could not and still cannot comprehend the profound implications of the Balkanisation of news; that logical argument can now be largely defeated, simply by calling into question the veracity of a premise’s source.
    He also understands that Twitter perfectly suits the 21st century attention span of sub 5 seconds and 140 characters (those new tweets are just so looooonnng).
    Those of us still foolish enough to seek out good old fashioned objective truths are vastly outnumbered by voters who have neither the time, nor inclination, to leave their info bubbles. I expect the trend of government activity moving from Legislative to the Judicial branch to increase – until, perhaps, such time as the Law itself ceases to be widely recognized as an objective source of binary truth. Then of course we are all in trouble.

  18. Nancy K says:

    Unfortunately voters have chosen a president who is as ignorant of the written word as they are. Maybe they deserve him but what about the rest of us.

  19. Rhondda says:

    I stopped watching TV news when I realized what Obama was — and wasn’t. Not long after that I gave up TV altogether.
    I watched the SOTU on YouTube. I think there is still information in the noisy pomp.

  20. paul says:

    the media landscape is changing rapidly. so all numbers might be a bit misleading, i for example tossed my TV in 2005 and have not watched one since, yet still feel overloaded with media.
    the rest of the numbers are pretty interesting.
    i would say the biggest reason for the falloff of CNN/NBC etc was do to their behavior during the past election.

  21. Anna says:

    The ziocons have no decency:
    “The anonymous anti-Russia lobby group PropOrNot has stunned social media users with an outrageous attack on the memory of Robert Parry…” – The propornists are not anonymous anymore:
    “Propornot is owned by Interpreter Mag… At the Interpreter Mag level, here are the people:
    – Michael Weiss is the Editor-in-Chief at the He has been a Senior Editor at The Daily Beast since Jun 2015.
    – Catherine A. Fitzpatrick is a Russian translator and analyst for the Interpreter. She has worked as an editor for and RFE/RL.
    – Pierre Vaux is an analyst and translator for the Interpreter. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, RFE/RL and Left Foot Forward
    – James Miller is a contributor at Reuters, The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, and other publications.
    The Interpreter is a product of the Atlantic Council. The Digital Forensics Research Lab has been carrying the weight in Ukrainian-Russian affairs for the Atlantic Council. Fellows working with the Atlantic Council in this area include:
    – Eliot Higgins – This linked article shows how an underwear salesman became one of the most important faces of the deep state.
    – Anne Applebaum [a “historian”]
    – Irena Chalupa, the sister to the same Alexandra Chalupa that brought the term Russian hacking to worldwide attention. Irena Chalupa is a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center. She is also a senior correspondent at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL. Ms. Chalupa previously served as an editor for the Atlantic Council, where she covered Ukraine and Eastern Europe.
    – Dimitry Alperovich- CEO of Crowdstrike”

  22. LeaNder says:

    Fred, such speeches bore me to tears: Kennedy III. Could you give me a hint, what you consider the most significant part?
    More arbitrarily: I once walked out impulsively on a discussion in what we Seminar in university over here. I do have this basic choleric core, and moving helps if it attacks you. 😉 The most funny thing was, in the identical larger context someone else followed my example a couple of weeks later. 😉 Is there any chance to get statistical evidence or numbers on the frequency of such a response? I am not aware of any other incident, and I spent many years in the larger setting in different places.
    Thus Luis V. Gutiérrez, what’s your point exactly?

  23. LeaNder says:

    sorry, I get sloppy, correction:
    correct:I once walked out impulsively on a discussion in what we Seminar
    walked out impulsively at one point during a discussion in what we call Seminar over here.

  24. LeaNder says:

    PT, I recall news as we dealt with it as topic over here in Television Science. At that point in time from my limited memory space one private channel seemed to relax the standards somewhat. It seemed to be an American influence.
    What puzzles me slightly, that’s an earlier technical question on my mind. How do you use “news shows”. As more general expression covering diverse formats dealing with news? ….

  25. Joe100 says:

    Good points – for example, my grandson read all of the Harry Potter books last year when he was in third grade. I read extensively, but I think the best I was doing in third grade was reading Hardy Boy mysteries.
    And his parents have both been serious readers, but my observation is that their current lifestyle leaves them almost no time to read.

  26. Morongobill says:

    Perhaps your side might get with the times and learn how to condense something to its selling points, as the Donald does with his tweets.
    Even a long novel can be summarized.
    This spoken by a longtime book lover, reading most on Kindle though nowadays.

  27. LeaNder says:

    great feedback, Bandolero.

  28. Eric Newhill says:

    AEL #9
    “You can advertise on his network for pennies
    ($1000 on weekends, $8000 – 16,0000 during the week).
    There is no way you can reach 26,000,000 people for that price.”
    Nice try. I love it when Canadian SJWs tell us all about America.
    One reason advertising on the Rush show is so inexpensive is because liberal companies boycott advertising. Their SJW consumers, in typical PC fashion, demand that Rush be silenced and they use the typical leftist tactic of attempting to cut off the life blood ($).
    In response, Rush lowered the cost, which makes it much more challenging for companies to pass up exposure to his tens of millions of listeners. This counter tactic has not been entirely successful as many loyal listeners now complain about the volume of ads on the show. Rush is making up for lower price by increasing volume.

  29. shepherd says:

    I agree and don’t. Trump is super effective at using modern media, and Twitter in particular. But the data here has some problems.
    Ok, modern media basics. Right now, American consumers are in a state of great flux when it comes to how and where they consumer television and other content—and not just across wealthy, young, or liberal demographics. In general, we’re seeing a move away from traditional broadcast and cable towards more a la carte and OTT (Internet-delivered) options. This is happening for a wide range of reasons, most of them related to cost and convenience.
    The numbers PT cites are likely Nielsen numbers. They are derived from people who allow a device to be installed on their televisions that enables Nielsen to see what shows they are watching. They only collect data for traditional cable and broadcast television, but they are valuable because they designate an audience which likely sits through commercials.
    However, these numbers are not useful otherwise, because fewer and fewer Americans watch TV that way. Even demographics like seniors are cutting cords because cable is so expensive. As a result, you get things like the erroneous perception that viewership for American football is in major decline. Rather, broadcast TV is in decline, along with American football’s share of it. Most of us who watch this sort of thing (i.e. the people who buy ads) do not believe that viewership is declining.
    Why? Because we have clues. Super Bowl ads, which are priced by supply and demand, are projected to set a record this year for cost. More importantly, things like Amazon’s Alexa measure the number and time people are spending on various websites, including streaming video from things like CNN on Internet TV services. Here we see a quite different picture from the one Nielsen paints. The top five news media outlets in the US by this measure are CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo, and MSN. CNN, in particular, is a monster.
    In other words, CNN may not have many traditional TV viewers, but the overall consumption of its TV content remains very high. It’s just done through other means not captured by traditional metrics.
    Should you draw any conclusions from this? Not really. If I could tell you what’s really happening in media, I’d be making $10 million a year. The only thing I’d advise is not looking too closely at any one metric, especially if it supports your biases.

  30. steve says:

    You are kind of correct, but also wrong. Sales have been trending down a bit, but sometimes pop up. It is harder to track in some ways with he advent of E-books, but it looks to me like reading is now more concentrated into specific groups. The wife and I have done some volunteer work in our area up in coal country. Lots of poverty up there. The schools are often in bad shape. The libraries? Decimated. Talk with the teachers and principals, it is clear lots of these kids aren’t reading very much at all. It certainly seems much different than the poor rural areas in which I grew up. Even at the worst schools 50 years ago, there were always books and reading was encouraged.

  31. Greco says:

    They’re still finding a relatively large audience, but it’s via the late night comics, e.g., fake newscasters like Stephen Colbert and John Oliver.

  32. Fred says:

    “reading choices for the young are no longer decided by an elite in New York. Literary fiction is dying, much more critical political writing now centres around Sci Fi, Fantasy, and other genres. …critical political writing now centres around Sci Fi, Fantasy, and other genres.” No. The gate keepers in publishing are overwhelmingly women, and mosttly young women. Guess what kind of collegiate educations they have and from where. Just what appeal are their selections going to have a US readership?

  33. AndreL says:

    Since we are looking at media statistics and also discussing the significance of books, “Fire and Fury” seems as proportionally popular among bookworms as Rush to the AM radio junkies.

  34. turcopolier says:

    I look forward to Luis V Gutierrez taking his proper place as a member of the Mexican Congress. pl

  35. Charles says:

    For a man who is “as ignorant of the written word as they are.”,
    here is a page of his published works. All of them incorporate the written word ( or at least the typeset word )

  36. Flavius says:

    I have been wrestling with the question “What is news?” for at least the last decade. The bout started in earnest when I realized I no longer needed to read the NYT, a habit of 40 years, because I already knew what the opinion pages were going to say and the magic wand of selection was tranforming the front pages into a facsimile of the back pages. I cancelled the paper.
    A few later I cancelled the WSJ because I had tired of the relentless war mongering by neo-con stooges who were never held accountable for having gotten things wrong, which seemingly was always and about everything.
    50 years ago we had Time and Newsweek in our house all the time. One day my older brother, the smartest person I have ever known, said to me “the more I know about something, the less Time seems to know.”
    I don’t know how The Donald tunes his political fork. I suspect that it is not by listening to the NYT/WP/MSM crowd that has them all so apoplectic. He is neither of them or by them. I’m guessing that after more than a year and a half, he considers himself fortunate in having them as his enemies. They have about punched themselves out.
    Whatever happens, Trump deserves much credit for having unmasked the partisan news celebrities and the more grotesque version of the same in the so called ‘entertainment’ industry, ‘famous for being famous,’ as has been said, for the bellowing self absorbed fools they are.
    Whatever ‘news’ is, the news industry will never be the same and will never hold sway over big government the way it has in the recent past. At least I hope it doesn’t.

  37. Shepherd,
    Nice try. Deal with actual facts. I provided links. This was not my opinion. Let me point you to other metrics. The number of people employed by CNN and MSNBC and ABC and CBS and NBC has dropped dramatically over the last 20 years. We’ve seen the same with the print media. Their circulation is down and the number of reporters employed is down by as much as 50%. And you want to argue that more are watching and paying attention? Good luck with that.
    One more point. The late Night Shows on ABC, CBS and NBC are equally irrelevant. Total viewers ? 9 million.

  38. Bill H says:

    “The more division there is on race, gender and sexuality etc, etc.” The Democratic Party calls it “identity politics.”

  39. LeaNder says:

    Eric #28, I have seen to many ways to deal with measurements to support your assumptions on this.
    But I would appreciate a link to Rush. Without guarantee that I will follow what might be one of your opinion leaders. That is.

  40. Sid Finster says:

    Nielsen/Arbitron – how does it work?

  41. rjj says:

    Thanks for the caveats, Shepherd.
    Why the histrionics, PT??

  42. Fred says:

    “Kennedy III. Could you give me a hint, what you consider the most significant part?”
    Kennedy III. Personally I’m holding out for Kennedy XIV, who will really bring the sunshine to the Presidency.

  43. Fred says:

    “There is no way you can reach 26,000,000 people for that price.”
    You’re right. That would mean the $1,000 doesn’t get an add on every radio station that broadcasts Rush. Which particular stations do you want to advertise on? Failure to understand micro-targeting is how the boy wonder Robby Mook blew threw a $billion running Hilary’s campaign. Of course the politically connected who needed to be paid got their cut of that but then that’s another objective of political spending entirely.

  44. TimmyB says:

    I get my news from many of the sites you listed. I also enjoy Naked Capitalism, Information Clearinghouse, and Zero Hedge.
    Has anyone here actually watched their local news lately? I have, and it’s awful. The stories are 25% car crashes, crimes and other accidents/fires of the “if it bleeds, it leads” variety. The rest is corporate public relations puff pieces, and Internet video clips. Oh, and local sports. The national news is the same, just a little better produced.
    In sum, there is absolutely nothing in the local or national news that provides a voter with the necessary information they need so thay can exercise their right to vote in a responsible manner.

  45. TimmyB says:

    I really don’t understand the response to Shepard. All I got from his or her long response is that clips from CNN and other tv news stations may be circulated via the Internet, which would be undetected by tv ratings services.
    Here are some actual facts. Trump remains unpopular with a majority of Americans.
    And people were first fired from newspaper and tv news departments 20-years ago so that shareholders could make a few more bucks. Newspapers were in trouble prior to the Internet boom because they decided to put out a worse product in search of higher profits. Instead of increasing profits, they drove customers away.
    Here is the ultimate truth about our tv, radio and Internet news media. You and I are the product being sold. The money these media outlets make comes from capturing our eyeballs, ears and clicks and then selling our attention to advertisers. The actual product being sold is the audience. And we, the audience, are being sold to advertisers.

  46. Eric Newhill says:

    I don’t follow opinion leaders. I form my own perspectives.
    I have listened to Rush maybe three times over the past 20 years or so. Each time when driving across country and when there was no good music on the radio – also out of curiosity. The last time I listened to him, it was maybe for an hour or more and he began to cause me to have a giant headache what with all the bombastic yelling and carrying on.
    I only appreciate Rush (and Hannity) as allies in the war to preserve our country and freedom against leftists.

  47. TV says:

    Kennedy and Gabbard: the triumph of looks over brains.

  48. Anna says:

    Mourning a great man, Robert Parry:
    Journalist Caitlin Johnstone wrote, “I would suggest that it is [an] underlying devotion to the plight of mankind which allowed Robert Parry to become Robert Parry. It wasn’t his connections, his political opinions, his ideas, or even his raw talent; it was the fact that he cared so much. The fact that he couldn’t dissociate himself from the horrors of this world, the evil things humans are doing to one another and the omnicidal trajectory we appear to be headed along. He saw it all, he felt it all, and he let it move him.”

  49. Walker says:

    Mourning a great man, Robert Parry. . .
    Robert Parry was a great man.

  50. Alexander Mercouris over at The Duran follows up his piece yesterday with the revelation that there is a SECOND “Trump Dossier” – of equally disreputable sources – being floated to try to bolster the original Steele dossier.
    As publication of GOP memo looms panic grips Washington
    The new dossier is revealed by The Guardian. But even Steele won’t vouch for it, although he appears to have had a hand in the FBI’s obtaining it. It’s basically the same rehash of the Trump Moscow lewd acts story which immediately discredits it.
    The production of this second dossier illustrates how panicked Washington is over the memo.

  51. NancyK says:

    You can read real literature on a kindle. It is really sad that we have a nation of citizens with zero attention span. Literature is not meant to be condensed to its selling points, not everything is a transaction.

  52. shepherd says:

    If you want data, here’s a partial set. If you have any additional areas of interest, let me know.
    This is a major media spending study:
    It shows steady spending on TV as a share of a roughly 3% year-on-year growing ad market for the last decade. This is significant because the people spending the money are seeing results and, thus, continuing to spend.
    This is Amazon data that shows CNN, NYT, et al. in the Top 50 US sites:
    Superbowl ad data, showing steady increase over time:
    CNN employment data:
    For late night, this is the Jimmy Kimmel YouTube page (10.8 million subscribers alone):
    Stephen Colbert Twitter (17.4 million followers):
    Failing New York Times stock quote
    Long term employment in the newspaper and publishing industries (this does support your impression of the newspaper industry, which is correct and expected to contract a further 8% next year. But you’ll also see a modest increase in TV and a huge increase in digital):

  53. Seamus Padraig says:

    Yeah, I’m surprised Tacitus didn’t mention the internet at all. I’m sure that’s a far bigger factor than talk radio. Me, personally, I almost never watch TV anymore, and when I do, it’s strictly for entertainment. And I don’t listen to talk radio either. For news and views, I go straight to the internet.

  54. DianaLC says:

    As a young person, I was always in trouble for bringing a book to the table. I read, read, read. But I chose classics. Harry Potter, Hunger Games? Really? If you read the first book of these, you know the plot line and how it will end each time you start the first chapter of the next book in the series.
    I taught public school English and college and community college English. Believe me when I say that if you give a young person more than three paragraphs to read of content that is serious or loaded with information, he/she just can’t handle it. The reading materials for my community college/college classes were so simple and the writing assignments were the same as those I gave to ninth-grade students when I first began to teach in 1970. (I had to follow a department curriculum.)
    I keep suggesting that people read a book by the historian Leonard Shlain entitled The Alphabet vs. the Goddess. Some historians don’t want to accept his work because he hasn’t done much to fit into the academic community, I guess. But I found the premise of the book pretty interesting and quite possibly true. He contends that societies and periods of human history alternate between linear societies that are logical and word based (Alphabet) and thus rely on the written word and those that are more artistic and symbolic (Goddess).
    I certainly do not find many young people now and even some my own age who can sit still to read more than a few sentences and who can listen to more than short sound bites. They seem to gather their information through common memes that are floating about on their social networks, on their computer screens (phone screens) and as they hear things in their daily lives at coffee shops, work, social events, etc.
    I’m sitting here with my personal over 1,000 book library. These are books I kept because I just couldn’t bear to give them up. I have them categorized and shelved according to the Library of Congress system. I’m leaving them to my own children as a burden since they won’t know what in the world to do with them all. And they surely won’t take time to read any of them. It’s quite sad.
    I do not have Harry Potter books or Hunger Game books in my collection, by the way.
    Sadly, PT is absolutely correct in his analysis, I think, of the voting public nowadays. Quite frankly, I believe the Democrats like having a public of “useful idiots” while the Republicans like their home-town heroes and the common folk. These two types of people have totally different interests. Thus, the campaign rhetoric of each national party is so very different in what they choose to put forward as their platform issues. And in the current environment, Trump did have the advantage because the Democratic Party had such a much younger base in many regards, people still worried about what celebrities think and feel and still hearing the garbage put out by young wet-behind-the ears professors who have been trained in all the new ideologies and can spew them out. History and literature are just “lies told by old white guys,” as the saying goes.
    I also taught journalism and was the high school newspaper adviser for three years. It’s quite sad for me to see the state of print journalism now and the broadcast journalism doesn’t often deserve to be called “journalism.”

  55. shepherd says:

    Jimmy Fallon has 50 million Twitter followers and 15 million YouTube subscribers.
    The point is that lots of people like Fallon and watch him, they just aren’t doing so on traditional TV.
    Another point on newspapers. The problem with WaPo the NYT and even local papers is not readership. Both of them have large, digital audiences, even though they both have paywalls. The difficulty is in monetizing those audiences beyond subscriptions. Two factors are in play here. First, digital ads do not cost as much as print ads, nor can we put as many of them on a page. But what has truly crushed the newspaper industry is the near complete erosion of classified ad revenue, which used to account for 50% of the total revenue of any paper. That is due to the proliferation of free outlets for classified ads online. This can be seen obliquely from the Group M reports I already cited, but is a well known fact in the industry.
    For another interesting data point, here’s the print readership of the NYT going back about 10 years. It’s roughly steady, not declining.

  56. There is also a generational difference. Teens use Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, more than Facebook and much more than Twitter. And they are tending to more use of smartphones and tablets for access. Facebook and Twitter are old geezer stuff.

  57. And you believe that Fallon really has 50 million followers? I have a bridge to sell you. 20 years ago I did some work for Hollywood writer Stephen Cannell. He wrote books that became instant best sellers. Know how? He hired people like me and gave me funds to go out and bulk purchases of books. Within a week he was on the NY Times bestseller list (Oh yeah, we targeted particular bookstores).
    Here is what we know for sure–fewer people are watching Fallon and Colbert today than was the case 20 years ago. The number of people employed in the electronic and print media has dropped precipitously. The current media world is basically a collection of obscure choirs singing to themselves.

  58. Barbara Ann says:

    Vive le Président Soleil.

  59. TonyL says:

    Your analysis is flawed without considering Internet viewers. Look at Youtube and other Internet streaming services. Peope in the younger demographic don’t watch regular TV news or talk shows.

  60. Cortes says:

    As the song goes “You took the words right out of my mouth…”
    How the Trump campaign must have laughed!

  61. AEL says:

    SJW’s and microtargeting have nothing to do with the basic advertising calculation.
    You pay for the ad and then measure the sales impact it has.
    If the impact was high enough, you buy another ad.
    If you expect to reach 7% of the population, you will have a definite idea of how this will affect your sales. Next, the price of the ad is a trade off between the channel wanting to sell almost *all* the ad spots and advertisers wanting to get greatest impact for least price.
    Advertisers clearly don’t see enough impact to carry a higher price. Hence the price was reduced.
    Therefore, Mr Limbaugh’s audience size is nowhere near 26,000,000.

  62. scott s. says:

    I remember the “good old days” when we got the daily faxed “Early Bird” (a DoD-produced clipping service) and a few copies were made and passed around (when you saw it depended on how high up you were in the food chain).

  63. Bandolero says:

    I think you’re spot on with your criticism of Jimmy Fallon’s 50M Twitter followers. Just compare reactions to his Tweets with those of Donald Trump, who currently has 47M followers.
    Here’s a comparison of the last three tweets of Jimmy Fallon (aged between 12 and 14 hours) and Donald Trump (all 15 hours old):
    Min Fav’d: 1,2k; Max Fav’d: 1,3k.
    Min RT’d: 110; Max RT’d: 169.
    Min Replies: 44; Max Replies: 64.
    Min Fav’d: 96k; Min Fav’d: 142k.
    Min RT’d: 24k; Max RT’d: 29k.
    Min Replies: 19k; Max Replies: 66k.
    So, Trump has about 100 times more user interactions than Fallon, though Fallon claims to have more followers than Trump. Of course, that doesn’t mean Trump has a 100 times more real followers than Fallon, but it’s at the very least an indicator for vastly different attention paid by Twitter users to the Tweets of these Twitter personalities.

  64. BillWade says:

    Aren’t CNN numbers skewed though as every TV in every waiting room of all types is tuned to them?

  65. No, it is not flawed. If the internet numbers were actually that strong but, more importantly, generated income, then these various stations would not be 50% (in terms of staff/reporters) from what they were 20 years ago. But you go ahead and keep believing in what a powerful force they are. I’ll keep an eye out for the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus for you.

  66. Fred says:

    “You pay for the ad and then measure the sales impact it has.”
    Pay whom, precisely? What position in the broadcast other than weekend vs. weekday and just how much time are you getting for $1,000?

  67. Eric Newhill says:

    That seems like a dumb way to measure viewership/listenership. What if people were tuned into the station, but simply didn’t buy what the advertisers were trying to sell for various reasons?

  68. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Data that I collected in the fall of 2016:
    — Americans were spending $20,000,000,000 (yes, b-b-billion) per year on cable box top rentals alone. That is why Shepherd’s point about people ‘cutting cable’ is an understatement.
    — set-top costs had climbed 185% between 1994 -2016; basically, the cables jacked up the rent in order to stay lucrative
    — costs of computers and mobiles declined +/- 90% between 1994 – 2016
    — infrastructure and codecs to enable streaming emerged in the late 1990s, and matured around 2008.
    Mobiles took off with the iPhone (2007+, which was based on cellular network improvements)
    Tablets went mainstream starting in 2010 with the iPad, and if you need stats on adoption rates, leave a message and I’ll post later.
    Also in 2017, a newer, simpler way to stream video (HTML4) became possible, so that the ability to stream video was technically simpler – it just needed big pipes and faster networks.
    In 2014, tv was a $170,000,000,000/year business.
    HBO/Cinebax had 138,000,000 cable *subscribers*
    As of 2014, Netflix had 59,000,000 subscribers — all of them streaming (40,000,000 in US) — but by 2017, growth had expanded to over 117,000,000 subscribers (almost 55,000,000 US).
    Google [Alphabet] bought YouTube in 2006 (for less than 2,000,000,000 — a mere pittance of with the total US tv revenue, and raised a lot of eyebrows over their ‘overpriced gamble’. Traditional tv gets *very little* of that ad revenue, unless it has: (1) app revenue (it’s smarter to offer apps free and monetize ads), or else (b) licensing agreements to stream content.
    (If anyone has other info, I’d be interested (!)).
    The employment stats for MSNBC are a bit quirky, and I don’t know all the details, but I have a hunch about what **appear** to be lower employment figures.. Originally, MSNBC was a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC. It was located on the main (Redmond) Microsoft campus, and I’m told that it had a ‘push the envelope vibe’ and a software context (because digital content delivery requires software). I’m told that is no longer the case; it was decoupled from Microsoft some years ago, the offices moved to a city location, and the supervision is now done by ‘suits’ from Back East. If those employees were previously booked on MSNBC’s payroll accounts, they may now be booked on NBC’s, or some other corporate entity. If I’m hearing astutely, you have a software mindset stuck in a ‘corporate-media structure’.
    My information is consistent with what Shepherd is reporting: what appear to be lower US football viewership rates are masking a move to digital media.
    Consider that Comcast averages around $150/mo.
    I pay for FIOS (Frontier $90/mo) and stream Netflix for $11.
    I also subscribe to the NYT Digital, for around $15/mo (to appease my mother’s ghost).
    I stream ridiculous amounts of video, but what is most interesting is to see the growing range of voices. And most of the ad revenue that my views generate go to YouTube, because that’s what I watch — as do many that I know.
    Although I still watch ‘too much’ news (online, on an AppleTV), and I think that PT’s point about Trump having a better ‘audience sense’ than the traditional press is probably accurate, I don’t think that’s nearly the whole story. Trump has a sense of drama, of ‘reality tv’ demands. His ‘skill set’ seems to be firing people; it’s his modus operandi, and IMVHO part of why people voted for him – to ‘fire’ people. But at some point, people come to realize that maybe they need a few employees left on the job, so the ‘firing everyone’ role becomes stale.
    I think we are very early into Act II of Trumpism.
    But we are in the infancy of new media, and streaming video, and on-demand viewing.
    Trump will not age well.
    The media will have to adapt, but Trump will not be able to navigate the new, less-egocentric possibilities that await.
    He should enjoy this moment; because his skill set is too limited, and his notions of tv reality show as politics, is too self-absorbed, to wear well over the longer term.
    If you want to see a clever use of media, and one that the conventional pundits can’t hope to match, watch a YouTube of Mexico’s former president (Vincente Fox) rubbishing Donald Trump. It’s witty, short, and informative. A new rhetoric, and much more in tune with Colbert, Trevor Noah, or Seth Meyers, who IMVHO, are our new press titans.

  69. JohnB says:

    No doubt but probably the only way to save the Republic.

  70. JohnB says:

    Sad news.
    Parry was part of a small group of journalists, the last generation who could really use the title Journalist. Today’s MsM hacks are either just shrill propagandists or lazy stenographers.

  71. Mikee says:

    PT I think you’re right. According to Variety there were at least 14 internet sources that live streamed the SOTU. It is unclear if online viewership polling was included in the 46 million that Nielsen reported. Nielsen only recently began using data from Comcast and the satellite providers. The actual number of viewers may be much higher or lower when streaming is counted. Many Americans today are ditching satellite and cable due to the cost and using online streaming sources such as Roku and others.

  72. TonyL says:

    That’s is exactly my point. These various stations are now 50%, like you said, because they don’t make much money from all those Internet viewing. Talk to young people, they just don’t watch TV the traditional way anymore. I’m afraid you might be a little bit out of touch.

  73. johnf says:

    I can only counter your arguments by quoting bald and boring figures.
    The publishers of The Hunger Games have said that their books have outsold the staggering sales of the Harry Potter series and quoted a figure of over 50 million copies sold (23 million copies of The Hunger Games, 14 million of Catching Fire, and 13 million of Mockingjay) just in the US. I don’t think these figures include Kindle sales, and quite a lot of them will have been passed from hand to hand.
    Elsewhere its calculated that a similar number of people have seen the films in the US.

  74. I probably should mention that although I watch TV shows, I don’t watch them on a TV. I download them from the Internet and watch them on the computer.
    But I suspect it’s just a fraction of TV show watchers who do that. Most people still watch TV on a TV.
    I recall a few years ago when I was frequenting a site called TV By The Numbers that they kept pointing out that the claimed reduction in TV watchers and “cable cutting” was mostly a myth, according to the official TV surveys and statistics. But they weren’t talking about the NEWS shows, just the overall TV viewership.
    I can believe that TV news has gone down hill.
    I recall many years ago that NBC had two hot babes reading the morning news. Then they stopped that because it was just too obvious that they were relying on sex appeal. Now every time I happen to see a local news show (I watched one yesterday in a medical clinic) that they usually have two hot babes reading the news. They may still rely on one woman, one man to anchor the evening news, but the rest of the day they rely on two women. So clearly the emphasis is on flash over substance for most news shows these days.

  75. NancyK says:

    His books were ghost written.

  76. Anna says:

    Agree. Not many people could be as courageous as Robert Parry.

  77. Bandolero says:

    Oh, I do think even more of Sanders supporters than the Dems expected did show up for the general election, but quite many of them voted for Trump instead for Hillary.
    Many may be a relative term here, but in elections where one or two percent of the vote swinging in some states can shift the whole election, what may seem to be a few when looking at raw numbers can be quite many.

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