Harold Feld provides an insightful analysis of the right wing noise machine’s attack on Oprah. As this is kind of an advanced topic in media watching, involving feints and jujitsu-like tactics, I think it may be useful to ground the analysis in elementary theory, viz, short run optimization:
1) The “news” media (and this includes Keith Olberman and other so-called liberals), has only one interest, and that is to make money.
2) They make money by selling advertising.
3) The more people who watch them, the more money newsmedia make.
4) More people watch “the news” when there is a tight race, or better still, controversy and a tight race. Viewers are seeking entertainment, not to become better informed about policy.
5) Therefore, the media will do whatever they can possibly do to ensure a tight race with lots of controversy.
Coralarries to theorem 5, above, are that things that distract from the entertainment value of the news, such as coverage of wars that are not going so well, will be minimized. People watch TV that flatters them and rewards their laziness; therefore TV news advances the point of view that personalities are more important than policies–because most people consider themselves good judges of personalities & it requires no work to decide whether or not you like somebody.
The only national news media figure who is an exception to this dynamic is Jon Stewart. He clearly cares about the country and respects our constitution. Stewart makes money by serving the considerable minority of viewers who actually want to understand what’s going on in our government.
Below the fold: Media Dynamics 102: long run optimization