Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Geritol Network

According to the Nielsen ratings the median age of a Fox news viewer is 68, leading liberal pundits to dub the network a "retirement community."  Yet, this is a network whose pundits have consistently assailed so-called entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, which most senior citizens rely on to get them through their golden years.

Frank Rich goes onto note some of Fox News's other woes in this op-ed piece, notably its failure to reach a young market despite feisty young anchors like Megyn Kelly, who gave us the contentious White Santa story back in December.  Rich doesn't let rivals off the hook, who picked up the story and ran with it, essentially allowing Fox to set the tone for what passes for "news" on television these days.

MSNBC, CNN and other cable news providers don't have a very young audience.  Their median age viewers are 62 and 64, essentially splitting the elderly vote, as Fox viewers exceed those of these two networks combined.  It seems where Moderates and Liberals have a number of choices as far as news is concerned, Conservatives have only one, so Fox is able to seize a big chunk of this demographic.

Younger viewers apparently rely more on the internet for their news than they do cable television, which explains why the Democrats have embraced the internet as their principal medium.  This has been reflected in recent elections, where the Democratic voter base has helped swing key races, such as the governor's race in Virginia, which by all accounts should have gone to a Republican, but Cuccinelli was too far-right for most Virginia voters to stomach.

Cooch was actually a pretty young guy (45) but his campaign played straight into the Fox nation narrative, which led Frank Rich to ask, why not let Fox continue its assault on America's intelligence, as it doesn't seem to be greatly influencing elections these days?  Rich notes that since 1996, when Fox News was launched, it has only managed to get one President in the White House, and probably wouldn't have succeeded in this if it wasn't for the questionable Florida ballots of 2000.

Fox has certainly helped to sway state and local elections throughout the country, but even when we look at Congress, Republicans have essentially split the chambers with the Democrats since 1996.  They haven't been able to gain the stranglehold they hoped for when they briefly controlled both chambers of Congress from 2002-2006.

So, this vast "echo chamber" of conservative values that Fox news has generated has failed to make a significant impact on the broader viewing market.  It seems that all they have been able to create is a protective "cocoon" for a mostly elder audience who still yearns for a pre-laptop era when Reagan was king, Geritol was popular, and key issues were presented in simple terms.

It just maybe that Fox News has run its course ; )

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