With the greatest irony, and, one might guess, mirth, the conservative media has become much more politically influential than the liberal-ish media, in part by its constant and canny positioning as an outsider David to the big-media Goliath.
That’s been the extraordinarily effective niche marketing tactic of the conservative media: ever-wounded virtue against the arrogance and superciliousness of the other side.
That prompts the most basic question: Why is non-conservative media (only defined as not being right-wing) so bad about defending and marketing itself? How come it lets itself be conservative media’s patsy and fall guys?
Arguably, this is the result of its own marketing strategy. Almost everything about network news has become smaller — the money, the influence, the audience. And yet its pretense — a still profitable pretense — remains very much that it is the voice of the nation.
That’s laughable and an easy sort of pomposity to puncture. Stephanopoulos is probably more knowledgeable about American political life than any television anchor has ever been, and yet he is made to play a remote television anchor instead of a sharp insider, a role that fools nobody.
Likewise, Williams, a talented television performer, is forced to imitate the mien and experience of Edward R. Murrow — here, too, fooling nobody.
In marketing terms, you can manage an aging brand for the profits it still produces or risk changing it up and losing those profits for an uncertain new future. Big media chose the former way for network news.