That’s an interesting explanation, but not really a plausible one. Impressive multitaskers though they are, it’s hard to imagine many moms making breakfast, feeding babies, gulping coffee, and simultaneously searching the web for advice on choosing a handbag that doesn’t cause back pain. Along with that, most of the lifestyle segments GMA, Today, and The Early Show run don’t highlight the sort of information ladies would think to look for—they are more the sort of tips that simply sound useful when they happen to come up (you might be glad to know what the hot color trends for 2007 are, but would you actually go hunting about the Internet for such information?).
More likely the culprit is the same ratings disease that has infected all the network news programs—putting a bias spin on topics viewers aren’t terribly interested in anyway.
In the recent past this sickness has resulted in Good Morning America featuring guests like feminist professor Linda Hirshman, who exhorts the mothers watching to stop having babies, get off their lazy butts, and get back to the office. On the Today Show it has meant bringing out supremely vapid fashion editor Bobbi Thomas to show the stay-at-home crowd how to look sexy and professional in the latest styles. (Hint: if your audience is watching you at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, they’re probably less interested in workplace fashions than you think.)
If the internet has contributed anything to the decline, it is probably that female viewers are more savvy now and know when Meredith Vieira sights flatly incorrect statements like 33 percent of wives make more money than their husbands (the most recent stats put that number between 13 and 20 percent) or that a majority of American women are now single (Thomas Sowell demonstrated earlier how wrong that statistic is).
Or maybe the more traditional-minded gals likely to be watching television on weekday mornings would like to hear from some public intellectuals who don’t consider the nuclear family a gross anachronism. As it stands, radical authors like Eve Ensler, the writer responsible for The Vagina Monologues, outnumber conservative ones on morning shows by about a dozen to one.
Similarly, it could be that mothers are tired of being scared silly over every passing political fad the left has to trot out. Today Show producers should ask themselves whether it’s effective, ratings-wise, to open segments on global warming with the tagline, “What needs to be done to save the world?” Even if they don’t have doubts about the science cited by environmental activists, isn’t it possible that question might be a bit overwhelming for busy moms first thing in the morning?
Then again, perhaps, like climate change, the daybreak ratings dip could turn out to be a natural fluctuation that amounts to nothing. But if the trend continues to hold and Gold is correct that evening news relies on the profits of morning shows to operate, then perhaps we could be unburdened of both Katie and Meredith in one fell swoop. If it does come to that you can be sure it will be blamed on one of two things: the war or global warming.
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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