On May 31, Tod Kelly TIVOed three hours of prime-time Fox News and three hours of prime-time MSNBC. Then he watched them. As a nickel summary, let’s just say he was…. unimpressed. It was almost exclusively spittle-flecked ranting for all six hours except for Rachel Maddow. His entire (long) summary is here, but here’s one interesting observation:
All three shows on FOX essentially cover the same four stories, in different orders. (Those stories are the Wisconsin recall, birtherism, planned parenthood promotes gender-based abortion, and the obligatory anti-Obama story.) There is some variation in the Obama smack-downs, but all of the others hammer home the exact same arguments using the exact same verbiage; each is pretty much interchangeable with the other, and might well have been penned by a single source.
….On the other hand, MSNBC has only one story covered by all three programs: the obligatory anti-Romney segments, which do not have the uniformity in commentary that FOX has with its anti-Obama segments. (And the truth is that grouping Maddow’s commentary with Shultz’s or O’Donnell’s is a huge stretch. Shultz and O’Donnell’s Romney rants seem more akin to the FOX anti-Obama screeds, politics aside.) Past that there is very little overlap at MSNBC. Whereas FOX’s shows have the appearance of a concerted and strategized effort, the hosts of MSNBC are all over the map.
And there you have it: liberalism vs. conservatism in a nutshell. We may be able to rant as well as they do, but we’re just not as disciplined about it. The Fox hosts get their marching orders in the morning, and off they go. The memes of the day get promoted in lockstep. (And, as Tod would have noticed if he’d watched all day, these same memes are promoted, sometimes subtly and sometimes not, throughout the day on other programs as well.)
But liberals? Well, over the past few years we’ve decided that we’re willing to yell into the camera too if that’s what it takes to compete, but by God no one tells us what to say. That’s just too humiliating. However, I suspect that this is at least part of the reason that conservative memes find their way into the mainstream media more often and more forcefully than liberal memes. They just repeat theirs more vigorously. Pretty good strategy, huh?