Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fox New's 24-hour outrage cycle and how it hurts Republicans

By Richard Barry

James Fallows at The Atlantic cites a new study by Bruce Bartlett called "How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics."

He draws attention to two aspects of the study he finds particularly noteworthy.

The first is its source—for those who don’t know, Barlett is a veteran of the Reagan and Bush-41 administrations and was an influential early proponent of supply-side / tax-cut economics. He also worked for Ron Paul. Since then he’s harshly criticized the Bush-43 administration, but in no sense does he come at this as a Democratic party operative.

The second and more important reason is Bartlett’s accumulation of detail showing (a) that Fox’s core viewers are factually worse-informed than people who follow other sources, and even those who don’t follow news at all, and (b) that the mode of perpetual outrage that is Fox’s goal and effect has become a serious problem for the Republican party, in that it pushes its candidates to sound always-outraged themselves.

As it was written by a relatively high profile Republican, I suppose that means it can't be so easily dismissed as a piece of partisan tripe, although Fox News watchers have a name for those putatively on the inside who question their world view and the politics that flow from it: RINO.

That Fox News viewers are poorly informed, well knock me over with a feather.

On Fox's goal of perpetual outrage and how that pushes Republican candidates to "sound always outraged themselves," that's interesting. 

This approach works when preaching to the choir but not all that well when the goal is to expand one's reach, which is something the GOP would need to do to, say, win the presidency. 

Most voters don't live their lives in a state of high agitation and quickly grow weary of being around and listening to people who do. 

Criticizing the state of affairs as they are is always a part of electoral politics, but so is providing a plan to move things in a positive direction, usually the greatest part. 

If Ronald Reagan had just been about bemoaning the sad state of America due to liberal malfeasance and not also about a bright and shiny future, however unrealistic, he wouldn't have gotten very far.

Yes, positive works, and is in fact necessary. Fox News doesn't really do positive, and to the extent that conservative politicians tailor their message to be in sync with Fox's 24-hour outrage cycle, they are setting themselves up for failure.

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  • On the first issue, I wrote some time ago, Bruce Bartlett Walks Like a Duck. I don't care how much Bartlett claims he's a Republican, he doesn't get to define what the party is just because he thinks it has gone off the rails. His opinions (sadly) fit very nicely inside the Democratic Party.

    On the main issue, I just don't see that the Republicans have hurt themselves electorally with their outrage machine. We have a political system that doesn't hold people accountable. That was clear as day in 2010. I don't see that changing in the coming years.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:57 PM  

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