"Why these cable networks believe that chasing the shrinking Fox audience is a smart thing to do I have no idea.One of the curiousities of our time, regarding the Perfect Political Storm, which never comes, is, why does the Perfect Political Storm never come?
Fox does do some things that a ratings-conscious network probably should think about emulating. But isn't the market for conservative assholes saturated?"
Part of the answer, accepted across the blogosphere, is that the Corporate Right-Wing Media is increasingly incompetent in ways that tend to help reactionary Republicans at the expense of liberal and progressive Democrats. Daily Howler recently offered a summary explanation, including (my words):
1. Corporate consolidation
2. Class (the pundits are all Rich)
3. Resentment (journalists are mostly mediocre or worse in intellect and professional achievement, and envy and resentment make them more comfortable with morons like Bush than with geniuses like Clinton)
Atrios, above, points out what I regard as the best evidence of the effects of Corporate Media Consolidation, and why a thorough-going, slice-and-dice Media Reform has to be a top priority for Democrats.
Those arguing that capitalism puts effective limits on the utility of Corporate Media as the Propaganda Unit of the Fascist State, which Bush has been building for 5 years, have to explain the behavior of CNN and MSNBC, which have failed as business enterprises, pursuing the wildly successful Fox. Businessmen, pursuing profit, would recognize that half the potential cable audience is liberal, progressive or moderate, and the way to profit is to zig to Fox's zag. Fox goes conservative, you go liberal. Not exactly rocket science, just Business Strategy 101. MSNBC's most successful show is Olbermann's, because Olbermann is an entertaining moderate voice. But, that doesn't get MSNBC to dump its roster of right-wing losers. Nor do MSNBC's generally abysmal ratings matter to the profit meisters at General Electric (MSNBC's owner).
Bottom line, the Corporate World is not so dedicated to Profit, that they will voluntarily cater to liberal, progressive or truthful viewpoints.
If Democrats, liberals, progressives, moderates, and patriots want to survive politically, something effective will have to be done. It is not a winner as a campaign issue, but it is a must-do-something-immediately policy issue, should the Democrats find themselves thrust again into power.
One thing the Democrats could do, even out of power, is to try to buy editorial control of MSNBC or CNN. As a business proposition, this makes perfect sense, and should not cost anything out of pocket (for the purchase -- investments would have to be made to upgrade either CNN or MSNBC). A smart investment banker can negotiate a deal, which would allow the Party or its surrogates to sink money into production values and (gasp!) news gathering, while G.E. or Time-Warner gambles on increased ad revenues following on big increases in ratings, reach and audience quality.
Making a serious business offer is a winner politically, if it is refused, because it becomes Exhibit A in any subsequent regulatory Reform effort.