But notice how Pew also found that nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans (7 percent vs. 4 percent) are regular viewers of PBS's "News Hour with Jim Lehrer," and 22 percent of Democrats listen regularly to NPR, but only 13 percent of Republicans. Democrats also outnumber Republicans among regular viewers of Comedy Central's "Daily Show" with Jon Stewart (by 10 percent to 3 percent). Shouldn't then the conventional wisdom also embrace that these programs can be identified as liberal since they are more passionately embraced by the Left?
In recent years, media elites have worried about partisan polarization, that media consumers on both sides would pursue only the media sources that reinforced their opinions. There's some truth here, and viewers ought to be strong enough to hear a different opinion. On the other hand, there's no reason for conservatives to endorse and financially support networks that do nothing but attack them and their ideals and leaders.
A TV news enterprise focused solely on ratings and profits would notice what Pew notices, namely that the TV audience identifies itself as more conservative than liberal. Thirty-six percent identify as conservatives, 35 percent as moderates, and only 21 percent as liberals. Wouldn't it make economic sense to at least proclaim an (SET ITAL) interest (END ITAL) in presenting a "fair and balanced" news menu?
Instead, networks like CBS are offering us Katie Couric touring the country doing her best Hillary Clinton impersonation. They rave about who can be the most emotionally hostile to the White House after hurricanes. Tax cuts only help the greedy rich. Bush is an idiot. Cheney is evil.
They show no signs of really being interested in preventing a further ratings collapse among conservatives. They would rather go down with a sinking ship, pounding their desks and proclaiming the liberal gospel, than consider giving conservatives an even break on the evening news. So be it.