I was always annoyed that the stunning 1994 Republican victories in the House and Senate were written off as the vote of the "Angry White male". I had hoped that after 11 years of electoral superiority this canard would go the way of my favorite Peking variety. Apparently not.
This morning, Laura Ingraham (ah... Laura), had clips from an interview with Jon Klein, President of CNN, on the Charle Rose show. Laura was so impressed with the interview that Mr. Klein made her infamous Lie of the day. Mr. Klein wrote off the success of Fox News as nothing more than a commercial, cynical appeal to the "Angry White male". Well.
A quick look at the TRUTH:
Media Bistro offers the 1st Quarter ratings for 2005:
FNC: 1,144,000 / 1,491,000 / +30%
CNN: 760,000 / 720,000 / -5%
HLN: 196,000 / 181,000 / -8%
MSNBC: 374,000 / 318,000 / -15%
CNBC: 190,000 / 91,000 / -52%
They also note that the largest increase in viewers from last year to this year was for Greta Van Susteren, a left-of-center host. Also, Ms. Susteren used to have a show on CNN before coming to Fox News, home of the "Angry White Male".
Now, is it possible that Fox News has more viewers than CNN and MSNBC COMBINED solely because of "Angry White Males"? Is it possible that Fox grew 30% in viewrship and CNN fell 5% over the last year only because multitudes of "Angry White Males" are watching Fox news rather than Pro Wrestling?
All I know is that in marketing a product (and from Mr. Klein's and his board of director's point of view, CNN is a product badly in need of marketing) the first rule is "It is better to be first than to be better". This was the rule that kept CNN in the lead for twenty years. The second rule of marketing is "If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category to be first in". This is how Fox News has carved out its niche. I don't even view Fox in the same category as CNN.
Another rule of marketing: "The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect's mind". Fox won the cable news battle the minute it came out with "Fair and Balanced" as their motto. They own it now. And no matter where you come from politically, "Fair and Balanced" is what you crave from your news, and it was sorely lacking for two decades at CNN. Just read any interview with Ted Turner and you'll see his agenda and the agenda he tried to promilgate with his network.
Until CNN stops catering to the International Market and focuses on the US market, they will always be perceived as stuffy, elitest, boring and blinded by a hidden agenda that is about as hidden as an elephant on a golf course.
One other marketing rule: Marketing is not a battle of products, it is a battle of perceptions. How is CNN perceived? Is it "Must see TV"? No. It's boring, stuffy, dispasionate TV. No one watches Larry King because they're dying to see what he'll say tonight. but folks tune into O'Reilly because he seems geuine, passionate and you never know what's going to come out of his mouth.
As long as Mr. Klein continues to rationalize his networks' failiures in the same manner as the Democratic party has, CNN will enjoy their same level of success. The best way to change some one else and to change the situation you are in, is to start by changing yourself.
Here's a thought: If CNN wants to get back the viewers Fox has, don't start by calling them names!