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November 08, 2004

Comments

PZ Myers

But why? I'm afraid I simply turn off the TV and don't watch it for news at all, because everything has that damned rightward, America-uber-alles spin. There is an unoccupied niche there, waiting for someone to fill it.

Abiola Lapite

What it comes down to is that the right-wing audience has been proven to exist, and to be a very large constituency. Going in search of an even more liberal audience than that catered to by CNN et. al. might pay off, but then again it might not, and the financial risk is too great for it to make sense when there's Fox News' market in sight, waiting to be contested.

It will likely take a new startup to discover any such audience, if there is one, just as it took the Fox News startup to discover that there was a market for more right-wing fare. The incumbents simply have too much riding on their current models to engage in that sort of experimentation.

Shai

The CRTC in Canada has been blocking Fox News for several years, (supposedly) because it doesn't have canadian content (a lot of the channels are required to air canadian crap some of the time); but I don't think CNN ever does, so the private reason is probably that the government prefers slightly left "liberal" propaganda

(Larry King is all celebrity garbage though, so there isn't exactly parity in afternews blabbering moron shows)

Abiola Lapite

"The CRTC in Canada has been blocking Fox News for several years"

Amazing! One expects that sort of thing from China or Cuba, but Canada?

Danny

everything has that damned rightward, America-uber-alles spin. There is an unoccupied niche there, waiting for someone to fill it

I imagine that you are wrong. Doesn't PBS fit this niche? What are their ratings? Can americans get the BBC? BBC should move in and see whether this a niche they can exploit. I imagine that it would be a very much a minority taste.

Left-wing academics criticize the media for skewing the news, for doing a lousy job educating the public, for leading the masses into false consciousness. The emergence of Fox News indicates the opposite; it is the masses that choose which sort of news they wish to hear. If they don't want to listen to news which is critical of their country, they simply won't.

Abiola Lapite

"Can americans get the BBC? BBC should move in and see whether this a niche they can exploit."

Danny,

Actually, BBC America has been available on cable since 1998, and is now available to 37% of all TV-owning homes, or 33% more than HBO. I don't know what it's ratings are, but this does support your argument that there are alternatives out there if people really want to watch them.

gene berman

PZ:

I don't think FOX is particularly "right-wing." It has some personnel (and shows) that lean one way, some another. In all, I believe it comes a bit closer (including the presentations of those of one "slant' or another) to it's claim of '"fair and balanced" than any other place on the TV dial, excepting C-Span.

I'm no expert in this or any field and I'm also a very right-of-center Republican voter.
But I think my personal experience is one almost anyone--of any political persuasion--might find instructive.

When young, I was a voracious and relatively eclectic reader. Books, newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, anything at all. But, by the time I was a bit past 10, I became vaguely and uncomfortably aware that, to large extent, a great deal--almost a preponderance of everything one might read, including that in the realm of "literature," was "loaded" in the sense that it seemed designed to convey some kind of message. to try to convince readers to one or another sort of view in a manner quite unannounced. I had no particular political views but probably got a
fairly left slant from those around me. FDR good/Dewey bad. Democrats good and nice/Republicans mean and nasty. You know what I mean.

I wasn't interested in politics in the very slightest but I was interested in not imbibing a constant diet of propoganda, especially in the guise of entertainment.
So, at about age 10 or so, I simply stopped reading one entire segment of writing--the one called "fiction." It seemed easier to make that arbitrary division than to try and apportion my reading so as to get the best of all divisions. I figured that, in a genre with no particular claim to reality, there just might be more propaganda than in the others. That may not be the case--but that's the cut I made at the time. As a consequence, there's a great deal of literature with which I have no acquaintance whatever--to my loss, to be sure. I've read almost nothing written in the 20th century.

But, once I had made that change, I began to become even more keenly aware just how great was the sheer quantity of misrepresentation (or potential) in supposedly factual publications: newspapers, magazines, even textbooks. For quite some years, I attributed most of the other-than-factual content to a desire to embellish, to render somewhat more entertaining. Bear in mind that, throughout that time, I had no interest in politics whatever--and whatever left-lean I'd acquired while young had probably persisted to a great degree. When I saw the term "inflation," I understood that it meant rising prices. I knew progressive taxation was good and that taxes that affected the lower-income strata were "regressive" and bad. I was sensitive to a great degree of propaganda but some things just slipped by my filter--they were verities.

Once I began to take an interest in and study Economics (of the variety called the Austrian school), though, I began to be even more aware of the degree to which so much of what we read, hear, and view consists of deliberately-constructed messages intended to reinforce collectivist views. I still read newspapers and various magzines and these seemed, at least to me at the time, the chief offenders. So, I dropped them, as well, in 1980--been "clean and sober" ever since, as I like to say. Of course, I'm atypical--some might say eccentric in those respects. But I'm also singularly (though not entirely nor absolutely) free of the immersion in collectivist-tinged ideologic propaganda; and, not having a constant
callousing, I think I've retained a much greater sensitivity to "spin" and "twist." And there's almost no comparison. Of course, there's spin by the various agents of the right side of the political spectrum. But the left today consists of almost nothing else.

Kenji

I would not characterize my self as a right-wing audience member, but I enjoy watching Fox News. This is because its bias is crystal clear, and thus it helps me internalize the information in a critical way. The danger with the other traditional news stations is that they purport to be "neutral", when neutrality in news is a myth, and so it is far more difficult to be critical of the information that is fed to me.

captainblak

BBC America is a phenomenal disappointment! They do not show news of any sort. Their regular programming consists almost exclusively of home improvement type shows...

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