The media landscape is obviously vastly different than it was a decade ago. Talk radio, blogs and Fox News have made it much easier for diverse political opinions to be heard, but one exchange on a late night “comedy” show this week reinforced my belief that the leaps and bounds conservatives have made are only tiny first steps in the overall goal of media and communications parity.
Recently a reader emailed me the following question, “When the media will print nothing positive for the President, how do we get the message out?”
The truth is that the message problems Republican Presidents, as well as Republican candidates and conservatives in general, face is actually much worse than the media not running any positive news about them. Not only have positive stories about the economy and Iraq been scarce (even when there has been good news to report), but an outright hostility for Republicans permeates outlets far beyond the traditional news media.
In the past a major problem Republicans faced was getting the news reported in a balanced fashion and getting some stories reported at all. Today with talk radio, blogs and Fox News, those previously unreported stories are now available to the public, but the communications/message war is no longer fought primarily on traditional news programs. Along with alternative sources of information like the internet and cable news television, news (or some facsimile thereof) is now communicated more than ever before through entertainment programming.
Even those who don’t read newspapers or watch television news programs get a dose of news on shows such as Good Morning America, The View, Oprah Winfrey and the Late Show with David Letterman. Fictional dramas such as Law and Order, and even some situation comedies, routinely reference items from the news and politics as well.
In many cases the information viewers receive through non-news shows is more influential and persuasive than that received on traditional news programming because it is generally presented as a matter of fact with little, if any, presentation of an opposing viewpoint. Polls show the public is increasingly distrustful of journalists, but viewers of entertainment programs are not in the same skeptical mode they might be in when viewing a news program. Performers on non-news programs are not held to the same level of scrutiny that journalists on news shows are held. A prime example could be seen this week on David Letterman’s late night CBS show.