Posts tagged ‘NBC’

And the Insurance-Loss Spin Will Be....

I try to read a couple of team-politics blogs from both the red and blue side, to stay in touch with what they are saying and stay out of an echo chamber.  Also, of course, libertarians make common cause with both parties on various issues.  But the mindless team politics angle can really be a bore.

One of the reasons I like to read Kevin Drum on the left is that his initial reactions to things often seems pretty honest.  When his side really screws up, like the IRS scandal or failing Obamacare exchanges, his initial reaction will generally be to honestly critique a bad situation.  And then about 3-5 days into the scandal or crisis or discussion of an issue, he will catch on to and adopt the party line on an issue and then become incredibly tedious (for example, on the IRS scandal, he was honestly critical for a while and then adopted the silly "leftish groups were equally targeted meme" and has stuck to it by rote since).  But at least there are those few days of honesty, which separates him from a lot of the left and right team politics blogs.

So the timing is just about right for the Left to pick a meme to explain away the millions of people who are getting their policies cancelled despite being told that they could keep their health insurance.  Mainstream outlets like CBS and NBC are pushing the story, not just right-wing and libertarian blogs, so the Ezra Klein's of the world must be working diligently to pick a meme and then enforce it.  It will be interesting to see what they choose.

Update:  Well, here is an early entrant from Valerie Jarrett:

FACT: Nothing in forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans.

This is hilarious.  Technically true, since my cancellation came from Blue Cross and not the government, but obviously the Blue Cross decision to cancel me was forced by the terms of the law.  This is obviously absurd, but is it too absurd for the media?  I don't know, and of course it gets extra lefty bonus points for blaming government-caused problems on private businesses.  Next up, Exxon to blame for gasoline taxes!

Power Without Accountability Will Be Abused

President Obama argued that he should be trusted with the (in the US at least) nearly unprecedented power to order anyone he wants killed -- military or civilian, American or foreign-born -- sending a drone after them.  He claimed to have this really detailed and careful process -- heck, they even had a spreadsheet.

Most of us expressed skepticism, and several folks in the know have expressed fear that, as with most such powers, its use has been creeping from an extraordinary measure against uniquely qualified targets to an almost casual use against rank and file targets.  Turns out this fear was justified:

The CIA did not always know who it was targeting and killing in drone strikes in Pakistan over a 14-month period, an NBC News review of classified intelligence reports shows.

About one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as "other militants,” the documents detail. The “other militants” label was used when the CIA could not determine the affiliation of those killed, prompting questions about how the agency could conclude they were a threat to U.S. national security.

The uncertainty appears to arise from the use of so-called “signature” strikes to eliminate suspected terrorists -- picking targets based in part on their behavior and associates. A former White House official said the U.S. sometimes executes people based on “circumstantial evidence.”

Not sure this even requires further comment.

Who Is Important to NBC News

I almost never watch the network news, but I happened to be in the room when NBC News had a year in review video where it paid tribute to famous people who passed away in 2012.  The people they chose were incredible -- probably 85% entertainers and sports figures and 15% government / military figures.  And that is NBC's world.   I vaguely remember there may have been one exception, but essentially there were no producers, no scientists, no inventors, no business people.  Not even someone like Carroll Shelby, a business person who also had a place in pop culture.

Olympic Whining

I have roughly the same reactions as Kevin Drum to all the Olympic whining (about tape-delaying events)

  1. NBC paid an absurd amount of money for the games.  Of course they are going to show the best stuff in prime time
  2. Lots of people have jobs where they can't watch all day.  They value the tape delay
  3. If you want to watch it, it's all streaming over the Internet.  Every damn match.  I have had fun sampling stuff I am not exposed to much, from team handball to skeet shooting to archery to cross country equestrian.  The kayaking was a favorite of mine, in particular (though the purpose built kayaking stadium seems a government boondoggle of epic proportions).  And all of it (with the exception of the sailing, can't figure out what the hell is going on) works great without commentaries, frequent commercials, or relentless human interest stories.

I have heard tell that NBC put spoilers in their evening news coverage.  This seems to be a mistake -- if you are going to tape delay, then as a network you need to be consistent with this policy.  But since I don't watch the network evening news, I am safe.

Best broadcast TV moment of the games:  The first commercial after Phelps lost the 200m butterfly by hundreths of a second in an uncharacteristic finishing mistake, we get the Morgan Freeman-narrated commercial about Michael Phelps winning by a hundreth of a second last Olympics and wondering how great it would be if it happened again.  Priceless.

 

Health Care Trojan Horse

I have written a lot about government-provided health care as a Trojan Horse for government micro-management of individual behaviors.  The logic is that once the government is paying for your health care, your decisions that once only affected yourself now affect public costs.  Here is a great example:

Touting new recommendations from an Institute of Medicine panel on obesity on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, science correspondent Robert Bazell proclaimed to viewers: "...a sea change in how we perceive obesity. No longer a question of individual responsibility, but a need to change what's called an 'obesity-promoting environment.' Calling on corporations, government and individuals to act."...

Bazell further pushed the findings: "With the cost of treating obesity-related illnesses approaching $200 billion a year, many on the panel say the nation is ready to act."

I wonder how many feminists who were pretended to be libertarian rather than just pro-abortion by arguing "keep government policy out of my body" are all-in on this type of food consumption regulation?  I would bet a lot.

Update:  Here is an idea -- let's deal with the perceived issue of people eating poorly by ... licensing nutritionists to make their advice scarcer and more expensive.  And here too.

Interesting Analysis of Trayvon Martin Probably Cause Affidavit

I have not really posted on Trayvon Martin (except to comment on NBC's corrupt editing of the 911 tape) because a) high-profile criminal cases don't really have the hold on me they seem to have for many other Americans**; b) I have nothing to add; c) I have a bias that would make my commentary suspect.

But since I am about to post on the case, and may in the future, I should explain the bias.  We have a problem from time to time with campground workers we call the "badge-heavy" syndrome.  They get obsessive about rooting our rules violations.  They stalk campers.  They follow people around.  The spy on campers, looking for violations or crimes to report.  The folks they pick out for such treatment are often chosen because they are somehow different from the employee.

This is just awful for customer service.   It drives me crazy.  It is the absolute first thing we discuss at every training session.  Employees who demonstrate that they have this mentality are generally shown the door as fast as possible.  Government-run recreation facilities actually have this problem much worse, because 1) they give all their park staff a law enforcement title, a badge, and a gun, which tends to just encourage this kind of over-zealous harassment and 2) it is almost impossible for them to fire someone for this type of thing (because in the government employee heirarchy of values, enforcement of and consistency with rules is far more important than customer service or visitor satisfaction).

So this is a hot button issue for me.  And my first thought in this case was that Zimmerman's actions seemed just like those of my badge-heavy employees that I frequently have to fire.  So I am not very predisposed to by sympathetic to him, so thus my bias.

Anyway, keeping with my habit in this case of commenting more on issues at the periphery rather than of the case itself, this post from Ken at Popehat (I believe a former US attorney and current defense lawyer) is quite interesting.  Here is the bottom line:

I'm in a rush, but I can't avoid commenting on the affidavit of probable cause submitted in the matter of George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin.

It's a piece of crap....

This is not the worst affidavit I've ever seen — but it's damn close, and the decision to proceed based on it in such a high-profile case is stunning. Cynics may say that I've been spoiled by federal practice, where affidavits are on average considerably more careful and well-drafted, particularly in some districts. But if it takes a high-profile case to highlight shoddy practices in everyday cases, so be it. An affidavit like this makes a mockery of the probable cause process. There's no way that a judge reading this affidavit can make an intelligent or informed decision about the sufficiency of the evidence — even for the low hurdle of probable cause.

** footnote:  I lived in Boulder through the whole Jon Benet Ramsey case.  I believe this was like aversion therapy, the equivalent of your dad forcing you to sit in a closet and smoke three cigars to put you off smoking, which has turned me off high profile criminal cases forever.

Totally Irresponsible

I am seldom surprised at NBC's behavior -- after all, this is the network that ran the exploding pickup truck story, only to admit later that it put model rocket engines in the fuel tanks to ignite the cars during simulated crashes because the they weren't catching fire on their own.

But NBC's editing of the Zimmerman 911 tapes to make them more inflammatory really sets a new low.  The country was practically on the verge of race riots, with groups actually posting dead-or-alive bounties for Zimmerman, and NBC purposefully edited the tape from neutral to incendiary?

Putting Crosshairs on the Succesful

Google is starting to discover that all its smug leftish do-gooder aura is not going to stop the government from trying to take it down merely for being successful.

Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), the top lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee's antitrust subpanel, are urging Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz to take a hard look at whether Google is engaging in anticompetitive business practices....

"Given the scope of Google's market share in general Internet search, a key question is whether Google is using its market power to steer users to its own web products or secondary services and discriminating against other websites with which it competes," the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent Monday.

Two quick thoughts

  1. Further proof that, long ago, anti-trust actions dropped any hint of being about the consumer and have become completely about protecting competitors with connections in Washington from getting their butts kicks by a stronger company.  Look at some of the last suits - Microsoft, now maybe Google - both are actually about stopping companies from offering consumers free stuff.
  2. Isn't Google being accused of doing exactly what, say, NBC does all the time?  NBC loses money on the Superbowl and the Olympics, but uses the huge audience to cross sell its other shows and offerings.

Green Industrial Policy Fail

This is like the third one in just a few weeks:

Solyndra, a major manufacturer of solar technology in Fremont, has shut its doors, according to employees at the campus.

"I was told by a security guard to get my [stuff] and leave," one employee said. The company employs a little more than 1,000 employees worldwide, according to its website....

Solyndra was touted by the Obama administration as a prime example of how green technology could deliver jobs. The President visited the facility in May of last year and said  "it is just a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism and the fact that we continue to have the best universities in the world, the best technology in the world, and most importantly the best workers in the world. And you guys all represent that. "

The federal government offered $535 million in low cost loan guarantees from the Department of Energy. NBC Bay Area has contacted the White House asking for a statement.

Beyond the whole green jobs boondoggle, trying to compete at low-cost manufacturing of a commodity product in California of all places is simply insane.

 

When Allies Are Worse Than Your Enemies

Back in college, I burned a lot hotter on a variety of political issues.  I would argue with about anyone, and often did.  The dinner table was almost always the venue for some political fight.  During those arguments, I quickly discovered something -- people nominally on my side of the argument were sometimes my biggest problem.  I remember any number of times telling some person to shut up and let me argue the point.  People email me all the time asking me to ban some idiot commenter trolling in opposition to all my posts.  I tell them I am much more likely to ban an idiot commenter nominally supporting my point than the other way around.

Which brings me to Eric Holder:

"I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is," Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.

This weekend Mr. Holder told NBC's "Meet the Press" program that the Arizona law "has the possibility of leading to racial profiling." He had earlier called the law's passage "unfortunate," and questioned whether the law was unconstitutional because it tried to assume powers that may be reserved for the federal government.

Rep. Ted Poe, who had questioned Mr. Holder about the law, wondered how he could have those opinions if he hadn't yet read the legislation.

"It's hard for me to understand how you would have concerns about something being unconstitutional if you haven't even read the law," the Texas Republican told the attorney general.

I have never been totally comfortable with the Democratic support of immigration anyway.  The party, particularly under this administration, seems to take the position that the government can be as authoritarian as it likes, as long as it does not discriminate racially in doing so.  This post hypothesizes that the Democrats' support for immigration is political rather than principled, a desire to create the next new underclass that can be exploited for political points, and I can't really disagree based on past history.

Readers know I support open immigration.  I see immigration restrictions as government licensing of who can and can't work (and who can and can't be hired) -- an intrusion Conservatives would likely reject in any other context.  Since I am opposed to immigration limits, I am opposed to giving government extra powers in the name of enforcement, in the same way I oppose, say, asset seizure laws originally aimed at enforcement of drug prohibition.

I acknowledged that the law is less onerous in its amended form (because, you see, I actually read the whole thing, here and here for example), but what the law's supporters fail to deal with in claiming the letter of the law will not be enforced in a racist manner is how even existing law is being enforced here in Phoenix by Joe Arpaio in a racist manner.  When Joe goes into a business, and handcuffs all the people with brown skin, releasing them only when a relative or friend races to the police station with a birth certificate, it is an ugly, un-American scene (here or here or here).  I would take supporters of the bill more at their word as to how the law will actually be used in practice if they were not the same people actively cheer-leading Joe Arpaio at every turn.

Somebody Should Write About This...

Years ago, I wrote a novel (still available at Amazon!) wherein a key plot point was a conspiracy between a Senator, a law firm, and a media company to create a high-profile tort case out of thin air.

Today, we may be seeing something similar with the Toyota sudden acceleration case.  In this case, we have the Senate calling stooges of the plaintiff's bar as "expert witnesses" with the whole thing getting a third of the air time on nightly news programs.   In my book, the whole thing was kicked off by a media company afraid of a new competitor - in this case it was kicked off by the US government, which controls GM, trying to sit on a competitor.

It is hard to spot the lowest behavior in the affair so far, but that honor can arguably go to ABC and the lengths to which it went to pretend it had recreated the problem.  In fact, they had to strip three wires, splice in a resistor of a very specific value and then short two other wires.  They made it sound like this is something that could easily happen naturally  (lol) but this is an easy thing to prove - and inspection of actual throttle assemblies from cars that have supposedly exhibited the sudden acceleration problem have shown no evidence of such shorting.  So the ABC story was completely fraudulent, similar to the old Dateline NBC story that secretly used model rocket engines to ignite gas tanks.   Its amazing to me that Toyota, acting in good faith will get sued for billions over a complex problem which may or may not exist in a few cars, while ABC will suffer no repercussions from outright fraud.

Basically ABC proved that if you bypass a potentiometer with a resistor, you can spoof the potentiometer setting.  Duh.  The same hack on a radio would cause sudden acceleration of your volume.

Henry Payne has more.

Yet Another Reason I Have Not Joined The Chamber of Commerce

From the AZ Republic:

A local contestant on "The Biggest Loser," NBC's hit weight-loss show, will be the featured speaker at the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce's Third Annual Keynote Speaker Event on May 27.

Maricopa resident Sione Fa, 28, is expected to share his journey to a healthy, new lifestyle during the fundraising event at Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino Resort.

Really?  You mean Gary Coleman wasn'g available.  Do business owners really have time for this stuff?

Regulation is About Protecting Incumbents

Darin Morely sent me this.  Woe be it to the upstart competitor with a new business model who challenges an incumbent with political connections.  This goes double when the incumbent is the government itself:

One of the great things about the web, obviously, is that it allows for much more efficient communication that opens up new and useful offerings. For example: the web offers the ability to find other people traveling to the same general place you're heading and to set up a convenient carpool. It's good for the environment. It's good for traffic. It just makes a lot of sense. Unless, of course, you're a bus company and you're so afraid that people will use such a system rather than paying to take the bus. That's what happened up in Ontario, as earlier this year we wrote about a bus company that was trying to shut down PickupPal, an online carpooling service, or being an unregulated transportation company. TechCrunch points us to the news that the Ontario transportation board has sided with the bus company and fined PickupPal. It's also established a bunch of draconian rules that any user in Ontario must follow if it uses the service -- including no crossing of municipal boundaries -- meaning the service is only good within any particular city's limits.

All of us in the states need to be prepared for more of this corporate economy thing in the US.  I saw last night on Sunday Night Football that NBC is really going hard on some green initiative, including having a green peacock.  GE (parent company of NBC) is a smart company and sees the writing on the wall.  It understands the new administration and Congress seem hell-bent on moving us to a more European model.  In that model, there are 10-20 corporations per country that insinuate themselves into government and get the opportunity to help run the country to their own benefit.  GE wants to be one of these chosen few.  The push is going on not just at NBC, but in light bulbs (betting on Congressional action to provide regulatory support for a new type of bulb they have invented) and in power systems (who are making large bets on wind that will not pay off without a government subsidy program).

In the near term, GE may need a bailout in its financial arm.  GE must have seen that GM made a huge public push for its Chevy Volt over the last 6 months, spending hundreds of million in advertising on a car that does not exist yet. Why would a company near bankrupcy do this?  We now know the advertising was aimed at Congress and the Administration, not consumers, trying to burnish their green image to give Democrats enough political cover to vote for the bailout their UAW supporters so desperately need  (any chapter 11 would likely result in enormous restructurings of union contracts).

The Modern China. Really. We Swear.

Rick Reilly of ESPN  (what a travesty that he is not the last page of SI any more -- I can hardly pick the rag up any more) has an article on many of the shams pulled off by the Chinese with NBC's help what an auspicious example of Chinese solidarity were these Olympic games.

Incentives Everywhere

After this post on incentives, where I observed that perhaps 99% of all government policy failed on incentives issues, I thought about going a whole week and discussing every story in the context of failed or mismatched incentives.  Then I thought about all the time I had spent building up my readership only to chase everyone away in just one week, so I will defer that idea.

BUT, can anyone tell me what incentives these people have to go work and support themselves?

What are people who receive FEMA assistance doing to help
themselves? That's the question NBC 15's Andrea Ramey asked those who
have been staying for free in hotel rooms after they moved out of FEMA
supplied travel trailers. What she found out is there are some who are
doing very little.

The scorching heat puts many at the Quality Inn poolside, but for
Gwenester Malone, she chooses to beat the heat by setting her
thermostat to sixty degrees. Malone's room for the past three months,
along with three meals daily, have all been paid for by taxpayers.

"Do you work?" asked NBC 15's Andrea Ramey.

"No. I'm not working right now," said Malone.

Malone says she can't drive and it's too hot outside to find work
within walking distance. "Since the storm, I haven't had any energy or
pep to go get a job, but when push comes to shove, I will," said Malone.

Just a few blocks away, Kelley Christian also stays at a hotel for
free. She says she's not taking advantage of her situation, but admits
it's easy to do. "It's too easy. You know, once you're there, you don't
have to pay rent," said Christian. "I kept putting it off and putting
it off and now, I'm tired of putting it off."

Anti-Trust is Not About Consumers, Yet Again

I have written numerous times about how most anti-trust actions are initiated for the benefit not of consumers but of industry competitors.  The incredible claim that Microsoft's giving away free applications with its OS somehow hurts consumers is just the most famous such example. 

Now we face the specter of anti-trust review of the XM-Sirius satellite radio deal.  All you need to know is that the National Association of Broadcasters, who represent the terrestrial competitors of satellite radio, are lobbying hard for the deal to be rejected.  Nearly every line of the statement is hilarious, but this one caught me:

When
the FCC authorized satellite radio, it specifically found that
the public
would be served best by two competitive nationwide systems. Now,

with  their stock prices at rock bottom and their business model in
disarray
because of profligate spending practices, they seek a government

bail-out to avoid competing in the marketplace.

First, I am sure that the NAB is deeply, deeply concerned about satellite radio serving the public well -- NOT.  Customers gained by satellite radio are customers lost by the NAB**.  In fact, if they really believed the merger would hurt the consumer experience with satellite radio, their statement would instead be "we are thrilled by this merger because it means that customers will be served poorly in the future by the new company and that means customers will defect back to us."

Second, I love the term "government bailout."  What they mean by government bailout is the prospect that the government might not block this merger.  Which, given the white-hot merger activity between NAB members over the past 5 years, means that most NAB members have received the same "bailout."

(HT: Hit and Run)

** In the TV market, terrestrial broadcasters, particularly their local affiliates, got the government to cover their butts by passing a "Must Carry" law, which basically requires that cable companies have to include all the local broadcasters in their feed.  In practice, this and similar laws have forced satellite providers to give you your network feed only through your local affiliate.  This means that instead of DirecTV being able to just give me the NBC national feed, they have to give me the NBC Phoenix affiliate.  As a result, DirecTV has whole satellites that carry forty, fifty, sixty or more identical feeds.  What a screaming waste, and it only gets worse with HDTV.  Anyway, in radio, there is no similar law, so satellite growth is more of a zero-sum loss for terrestrial competitors.  I think the NAB is just huffy they did not get their own must-carry subsidy law passed.

Thoughts on Net Neutrality

I have had several readers email me asking my opinion on net neutrality, at least as embodied in the regulations passing through Congress.  I really haven't gotten worked up about it one way or the other, but here is where I am on it:

  1. It seems to be solving a "problem" that doesn't exist, but is mostly hypothetical.  So the current benefit of the law is zero.  Which makes the law at best currently useless, and at worst a negative given inevitable unintended consequences.  It seems crafted out of general distrust of phone and cable companies than for any other reason.  Couldn't we at least have waited not just until some company was giving preferential access to certain sites, but until there was some demonstrable harm from the practice?
  2. I dislike the precedent of the government increasing its regulation of the Internet.  I know folks want to argue to me that this law is just to "keep the Internet like it has always been" but that is the justification of half the regulations on the books -- locking the the status quo against new business models, technologies, and competitors
  3. I can imagine situations where net neutrality might be bad.  I think in particular with fledgling wireless networks, that might want to put certain limits on high-bandwidth sites to try to reduce the load on their key nodes.
  4. I know it is not a direct analog, but net neutrality smacks a bit of the awful "must carry" rules applied to cable and satellite.  These must-carry rules were crafted to force people like cable to carry every local TV station, worthy or not, on their cable and to force satellite providers to only bring the network feed to a city via its city's local affiliate.  Another government incumbent protection act, it basically said that incumbent terrestrial broadcasters got first call on cable bandwidth ahead of new entrants.   The sattelite rule has always irritated me - it means that to provide NBC to 60 cities, DirecTV has to carry 60 nearly identical feeds in its limited satellite bandwidth instead of just one, all to protect technologically dated but politically influential local TV businesses. 
  5. Ironically, the same "progressives" pushing net neutrality also pushed, just 6 months ago, legislation to require cable TV to provide content a la carte rather than just one price for everything bundled.  Aren't these two initiatives effectively opposite of one another?  And why is either the government's business?

TV Regulation Mess

If my blog was a satellite TV station, the following would be illegal:  Investigators Slam Katrina Response.  (hint - answer is NOT in the attached article, which is random)
.
.
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I'm sorry, did you miss it?  What did I do that was so wrong?  What I did was let you view content directly from a national content provider.  In the past, Reuters traditionally distributed its content through local distribution arms called newspapers.  This distribution model was required based on old technologies, where printing was a local not a national business.  Now that new technologies allow content providers to distribute their material nationally without these intermediaries, many have chosen to do so, as does Reuters at their web site.  This is one of the many reasons why newspapers today are struggling.

The TV business has historically had the same business model for roughly the same technological reasons.  National content providers (e.g. NBC, CBS) distributed content through local affiliates because broadcasting technologies were very local.  Today, with Satellite and cable, it is perfectly easy for anyone to access the national feeds, like you did in reading the Reuters site above.  EXCEPT, the US Congress has outlawed this practice.  Satellite providers, with a few exceptions for rural viewers, cannot provide viewers with the national feed -- it is illegal.  Unlike with print media, Congress has succumbed to powerful interest groups in the local TV market to protect their dying business model. 

As a result, DirectTV has satellites in space using up bandwidth by broadcasting 50 or more nearly identical copies of the same national feed, because it is forced to use the local affiliate's feed for each local market.   One of many adverse results is that while the price of print content has fallen to nearly zero, the price of broadcast content goes up.  And, from a personal standpoint, I nearly killed myself adjusting an old fashioned TV aerial on my roof last night because that is the only way I can get NBC's Olympics HDTV content, since my satellite provider can't afford to duplicated hundreds of local stations to get the networks on satellite in HDTV under the current asinine rules.  And I refuse to get cable because it was in large part for exactly this reason, to force customers away from satellite to cable, that the must-carry and related rules were passed, and I refuse to give them the satisfaction.

Postscript:  By the way, the Reuters article linked is worth reading too.  Take this snippet:

Richard Skinner, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland
Security, told the committee that FEMA purchased 24,967 manufactured
homes at a cost of $857.8 million to temporarily house Katrina victims.
But most of those homes are unused and the government is paying to
store them, he said.

Nearly 11,000 are sitting are sitting at a
government site in Hope, Arkansas, and are deteriorating because they
were improperly stored, he said.

Dan Rather Replacement

Apparently, CBS is still mulling over candidates to replace Dan Rather.  Apparently, they have reduced the candidates of a "short list" of the people who might improve ratings over those garnered by Rather.  Unfortunately, this criteria has limited the list to ... just about everybody.  While this and other articles bandy about candidates, I still think my list was pretty good:

Improve ratings approach #1:  Finally get rid of the pretense that anchors are journalists rather than pretty talking heads.  Hire Nicolette Sheridan, or maybe Terri Hatcher.  Or, if you feel CBS News deserves more gravitas, in the Murrow tradition, how about Meryl Streep?

Improve ratings approach #2:  Go with comedy.  Bring in David Letterman from the Late Show to anchor the evening news.  "Tonight, we start with the growing UN oil for food scandal.  Uma - Anann.  Anann - Uma."  Or, if you want to segment the market differently, how about Tim Allen and the CBS News for Guys.  Or, if CBS wants to keep hitting the older demographic - what about Chevy Chase - certainly he already has anchor experience from SNL.

Improving Credibility Choice:  No one in the MSM really has much credibility left after the last election, but there is one man who would bring instant credibility to CBS News -- Bob Costas.  CBS should hire him away from NBC, like they did with Letterman.  Make him the evening news anchor.  Heck, if Bryant Gumbell can make the transition to the news division, certainly Costas can.

Become the acknowledged liberal counterpoint to Fox:  Hire Bill Clinton as anchor.  Nothing would generate more buzz than that hire, and he is at loose ends anyway (and think about all those wonderful business trips away from home...)  If Bill is not available, try James Carville.  I might even have to watch that.

Let the public decide:  Forget making a decision, and just create a new reality show like ESPN's Dream Job to choose the next anchor.  Each week the 12 finalists can be given a new task.  In week one, they have to pick up incriminating evidence about the President at a rodeo.  In week 2, they have to forge a believable set of documents from the early 70's, and survive criticism from about 10,000 bloggers.  They can kick one off the island each week based on the viewers votes.

CBS, and in fact all the network news programs, have a problem which caused me to rename them from the Tiffany network to "the Buick network":  Their median age news viewer was born while Hitler still ruled Germany.  As I wrote in that article,

It turns out that the network news programs have exactly the same problem, though none of them profess to be worried, despite the fact that the networks are losing share to competitors at a much faster clip than are US auto makers.  Journalism.org reports that the median age of an ABC News viewer is about 59, of an NBC News viewer is 60 and of a CBS News viewer is over 61.  Everyone who is younger has switched to cable, switched to the Internet, or switched off altogether.

More here.

CBS News: The Buick Network?

For years, any of the network news programs would love to have been referred to as the "Cadillac" network, implying high-class quality in a similar way that the "Tiffany" Network always did.

However, it appears that NBC, ABC, and CBS news have something else in common with Buick, Cadillac and Lincoln:  Their customers base is aging. Rapidly.

The median age of the average Buick owner is 67, for Cadillac is 65 and Lincoln is 63.  Excepting Escalades and Navigators, when was the last time you saw anyone in one of these cards who did not have gray hair (and perhaps a handicapped tag)?  This aging has the auto makers panicked.  Unless it is reversed, in 20 years these brands will be history.

It turns out that the network news programs have exactly the same problem, though none of them profess to be worried, despite the fact that the networks are losing share to competitors at a much faster clip than are US auto makers.  Journalism.org reports that the median age of an ABC News viewer is about 59, of an NBC News viewer is 60 and of a CBS News viewer is over 61.  Everyone who is younger has switched to cable, switched to the Internet, or switched off altogether.

In some sense, the network news problem is worse than the auto makers'.  If the auto makers can find compelling new designs to appeal to younger folks, younger buyers will come back - the brands are tarnished, but the basic business model is OK.  In the case of the networks, not only are their brands tarnished, but it is not clear that the business model of 30 minute evening news broadcasts can ever be revived in the face of a huge proliferation in news sources.

But, it is still entertaining to see who will replace the current anchors, the single best tool the networks have to reposition their broadcasts.  I wrote about Dan Rather's potential replacements here.

UPDATE:

What is it about the previous generations and the number 3?  Three big networks, three major automakers, Avis-Hertz-National, McDonalds-Burger King-Wendy's, etc.  Has there been a technology change to break up these oligarchies and provide more choices, or was there an inability by a couple of generations overwhelmed with change to digest more than 3 choices?  Update to the Update:  Virginia Postrel actually has a related post here about choice.

CBS is Pathetic

To this day, CBS and Dan Rather have still not admitted that the documents they used in the Bush National Guard story were forged. Pathetic.

Today we get this, via Drudge.

News of missing explosives in Iraq -- first reported in April 2003 -- was being resurrected for a 60 MINUTES election eve broadcast designed to knock the Bush administration into a crisis mode.

Two obvious questions. What is the public justification (vs. the real one, which is obviously to influence the election) for re-running an 18 month old story and calling it new news? And, how can people keep flogging this story when NBC, who had an embedded reporter on site the day after liberation, continues to report that the stuff was not there when the US arrived?

This is not to let the NY Times off the hook, for beating CBS to the punch on this weak story, but I have built up a particular ire over the years against CBS News. Besides, this is a lame issue - kind of like the museum looting urban legend revisited again. Is this the best October surprise the left has? Maybe Karl Rove has a better one for his side coming up.

It would be interesting to know if Kerry is happy or sad about this. Probably both. So far, the original story is getting more play than NBC's debunking of it, so that must help. However, I saw him on TV Monday and most of the soundbites, at least on CNN, were of him slamming Bush over this story. He can't be happy having the rug pulled out from under him yet again, as happened after the Bush ANG story. Maybe he needs to wait 24 hours after NY Times or CBS stories come out to see if they still hold up before putting his reputation behind them.