Shadow Government, Shadow Management
My wife, Peggy, and I overdosed on the 2008 election.
Eighteen months ago—with 10 Republicans and eight Democrats vying for their respective nominations—we started slowly. By August of this year, we were hooked. We'd start the day at 6 a.m. watching MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and his happy crew—Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, Pat Buchanan, et al. At 1 p.m., over a sandwich in the kitchen, I'd look in on Andrea Mitchell. After work we'd surf the dials, hitting Chris Matthews, David Gregory and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC; Brit Hume and his wonderful roundtable on Fox News; as well as checking in on Wolf Blitzer and Lou Dobbs at CNN. Compared to the energy and excitement of the cable shows, network evening news was a cure for insomnia.
The cable folks parsed every speech, analyzed every gesture, trumpeted every miscue, interviewed everybody and anybody who might shed some light on the outcome, and involved viewers in the minutiae of political campaigning. It was a giggle while it lasted.
Now Obama is in while McCain and Bush are out.
The suspense is gone. Life is normal once again.
So whither cable? Will it wither and die?
Welcome to the new shadow government.
Changing the Business Model
With no election suspense to report, cable news must change or die. The change has started.
While still called "The Place for Politics," MSNBC's new tagline is "The Power of Change." "Race to the White House" with David Gregory has been renamed "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," and "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" is now a countdown to what?
Based on what I see in the Nielsen ratings, these blowhards will spend the next two years talking to themselves and roughly one-tenth of 1% of the country. The utter boredom will be interrupted by sudden tragedies, tsunamis, floods, plane crashes, assassinations, celebrity deaths and kidnappings.
- United States