In light of the latest TV ratings news, in which CNN continued to implode and FOX had its best quarter ever, we thought it fitting to run John Hempton’s observations from last fall…Here is a sequence of numbers to bring tears of joy to a stockholder and tears of rage to a liberal pundit.*
It’s the quarterly operating profit of the cable network programming for News Corp in millions of dollars as reported since September 2005. It’s not all Fox News – but Fox News is the main driver.
And whilst there are some nice new liberal media sites (including many I read) and I think people like Josh Marshall have reinvented part of American journalism that is all a delusion. The media market has a conservative bias.
Just to make the point further I have met a few media barons – including briefly the Sun King himself. My impression of media barons is that whilst they have political views (often quite strong ones) there real bias is to things that are profitable. Rupert is in my home town this week (Sydney) and he is personally expressing views associated with asylum seekers in Australia that are associated with the left of Australian politics. They are not views expressed in his local newspapers.
Therein is the rub. He is quite happy to have his newspapers express views contrary to his own when it sells papers. The media market determines media bias – and – as the above string of numbers show – the media market has a conservative bias and that bias is getting stronger. Media bias follows the money-making bias of media owners. People who proclaim liberal media bias are just not following the dollars.
I hope – sincerely hope – that Josh Marshall, Markos Moulitsas and others of the new media liberal elite can make a go of it. But the conservative side generates operating profits of half a billion per quarter and that gives them a longevity (and power) that the new media – for all its obvious intelligence – can only watch in gob-smacked wonder.
*In this case I am both a liberal pundit and a stockholder. I don’t know whether to cry or to cry.
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