Thursday, November 22, 2012

Elsewhere and Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I don't think I'll be posting anything on Thanksgiving, but perhaps I might on Friday (and I'll be over at Greg's place Friday afternoon). For those celebrating, then, enjoy!

A couple of things to leave you with...I wrote one over at PP today about the question of whether conservatives are really going to take on Rush Limbaugh.

And an old one: from last year, things for political junkies to be thankful for. Enjoy!


  1. Happy Turkey Day all! Anyway if you get bored tomorrow or this weekend (like me), I'd suggest you take some time and read James Fallows' "Obama Explained" piece from the Atlantic back in the spring. I read it when i came out, and it was good, and then re-read it recently and it was just great. Anyway, I think its one of the best things I've read about Obama and how to think about the presidency yet. And its a great primer for how to think about a second term.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving! wrt Limbaugh changing: keep in mind, assuming all races/genders/creeds of listener are equally lucrative, Limbaugh's show will embrace diversity iff he can add at least one new diverse listener for each angry white guy that leaves in disgust.

    That's certainly feasible longer-term, but it seems likely that previously-neglected groups will be suspicious of Limbaugh, at least for a while, even if his change is sincere. As a result, at least in the short term, such a transition is surely a money-loser. From which you have to identify an entity that can force Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh and the rest to lose money for the good of the team.

    The day after the election, Limbaugh was a bit sensitive about the charges re: the right-wing echo chamber. Many many times he mentioned that Condi Rice was on the platform at the convention. Is that tokenism? Is that tokenism? he repeated at least a dozen times. Awkward. By Thursday he brought Clarence Thomas into the conversation.

    I am neither a lawyer nor a black guy, but I understand that, as measured by tangible contribution to the court, Clarence Thomas is the worst SCOTUS justice in many years, probably forever. If I were a black guy, I think some public figure holding up his endorsement of one of the most embarrassing members of my tribe would not make me want to embrace said public figure. Maybe that's just me.

    1. Having ranted thus, there is one huge caveat: not all listeners/viewers are created equal. Specifically, an 18-24 viewer is often 10X more lucrative to an advertiser than a 55+ viewer.

      So these conservative media outlets could profitably cannibalize a huge chunk of their old, angry white guy crowd if it is replaced by a diverse 18-24 audience.

      Problem is, even conservative young people tend to be socially liberal. In any event, if there's a way to pursue diversity while getting younger, it would be good business for right-wing media to pursue it.

    2. Good points overall. I think it's also worth noting that young people of all political stripes are presumably less likely than older cohorts to listen to radio, so there's that challenge as well.

      It's also possible that Limbaugh's motivations may not be entirely commercial, so if a particular decision is slightly -EV$, it may be +EV overall if it fulfills some other ambition of his. For instance, being an important, influential figure in GOP politics may be paramount to him, and he may be willing to go from making $30m/year to $26m/year if that preserves such a role (hypothetical numbers and scenario obviously).

    3. @CSH, interesting topic for discussion. I can imagine Fox has a path to a more diverse audience (more Shep Smith and real journalism with real questions, less syncophancy), but I don't see one for Limbaugh. Even if he were to try to show viewpoints other than angry-white-male, how would he attract an audience? Where would he advertise the new Limbaugh, and would it really induce anyone who isn't used to talk radio to find a station and listen?

      I think Limbaugh is gradually being sidelined because the demographic he speaks to is shrinking. The GOP never has to "take him on." They can just ignore him.

  3. So the question is which of these incentives will win out: the electoral incentives (stop insulting people who can be won over!) or the commercial one

    Rush doesn't have electoral incentives. Neither does Fox.

    What's more, the incentives of any given GOP congressman are to forestall a primary challenge from some Christine O'Donnell or Richard Mourdock.

    If there were an Emperor of the GOP, dependent on winning presidential elections for his legitimacy, then sure, we'd see reform. But that's not the way it works in real life. (Consider the "iron law of institutions").

    I don't see how the GOP minimizes the importance of Limbaugh types.


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