And in the role of President…

And in the role of President…

: Jon Margolis (a long-ago colleague) writes in today’s Times that movies — and radio and the internet — won’t swing the election:

With talk radio, the 24-hour cable news networks, the Internet and blogging, technology and popular culture have all been offered up as vehicles for revolutionizing presidential politics. This election cycle, the Internet was a useful fund-raising and organizing tool for Howard Dean. Useful but insufficient; even a good tool cannot rescue a poor candidate. Talk radio and cable news are not inconsequential; if nothing else, they help explain the overall decline in the quality of American journalism. But they have not elected anyone.

Neither will “Fahrenheit 9/11″….

Campaigns are won or lost depending on what is happening in the world and how effectively the candidates campaign. Popular culture is just a postmodern term for entertainment, which is a lot more fun than politics, but totally different.

Right. We’re smarter than that. We can tell a comedy act — whether Moore or Coulter — from a candidate, even if the comics think they’re serious and the candidates don’t know they’re comical.

  • http://youngcurmudgeon.typepad.com Eric Deamer

    Talk radio and cable news are not inconsequential; if nothing else, they help explain the overall decline in the quality of American journalism.
    Whatever. Those media came into being in response to the decline in the quality of American journalism. Once most “journalism” became little more than PR for the Democratic Party, there became a need, and a financial market, for an alternative viewpoint. If the NYT/LAT/WaPo/NBC/CBS/ABC/NPR etc. weren’t all slanted against alternative (i.e. conservative/libertarian/liberal-hawkish/religious/any non-leftist) viewpoints, there wouldn’t have even been a need or a market for Fox News or Rush Limbaugh.

  • http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com Jeff the Baptist

    Sorry Eric your fundamental premise is flawed. You don’t require a true need to create a market like Conservative Talk Radio. All that is necessary is to create a perceived need. This is basic marketing. Now I would agree that the mainstream media is demonstratively liberal, but that doesn’t make your argument unflawed.
    As for the rest, sorry but you can define a candidate for the American people even if it isn’t true. Bob Dole is a really funny guy with a quick wit. Yet in 1996 he was portrayed quite successfully as a stick in the mud who never smiled. People didn’t realize the lie until that superbowl commercial came out. Why was it this way? Once the popular culture buys in to a lie, its hard to break. Bush isn’t stupid for instance, but all the stupid jokes will still abound. Kerry maybe a nice guy, but people are still going to do elitist prick jokes.

  • Sterling

    Well, I think Kerry probably is an elitist prick and a nice guy at the same time. As for the rise of talk radio, there was little marketing and no hoopla, it just happened. It was already a roaring success when media elites started noticing the phenomenon.
    The reason it’s mostly conservative? I can think of several. One is that conservatives have a higher mean level of political interest. Another is that listeners are frustrated by the TV and newspaper slant on things. The third reason is a matter of quality – some of the most talented broadcasters in the medium are confined to talk radio, restricted to a ghetto by the media elite. Rush Limbaugh is one of the most engaging broadcast personalities in America, but most of media concerns treat him like he’s radioactive. And what’s absurd about it is that his political beliefs are mainstream, chamber-of-commerce republicanism. Probably 40% of the people in the country agree with most of what he says, and probably another 25% agree with a good deal of what he says.

  • Harold

    “Sorry Eric your fundamental premise is flawed. You don’t require a true need to create a market like Conservative Talk Radio. All that is necessary is to create a perceived need. This is basic marketing.”
    I have to disagree. If your assertion were true, every product that is manufactured would end up successfully sold in our stores, all it takes is “basic marketing.” In fact, there are hundreds of products introduced every year, for each one that is successful.
    Sorry, people are just not that dumb.

  • http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com Jeff the Baptist

    No Harold it takes skillful marketing to make people want to buy a bottle of water for $1.29 instead of drinking what is available everywhere for free. Creating the perception of need is difficult and non-trivial, but it happens.
    It is however basic marketing theory to realize that sales are driven by perception not truth. Its not the steak, its the sizzle. Many great products fail because they cannot get buy-in and poor products succeed for the same reason. I didn’t say anything about difficulty, what I said is that the “there is a market, therefore X must be true” is a falsehood. You don’t need truth, you only need enough people to believe its true. Smoke and mirrors will suffice although actual truth will be more powerful and probably cheaper.
    Yes Talk Radio is bad example because its a grass roots thing.

  • http://stevesilver.net Stephen Silver

    With one guest column, Margolis has singularly refuted Frank Rich’s entire column output over the last three years.

  • shark

    Campaigns are won or lost depending on what is happening in the world and how effectively the candidates campaign. Popular culture is just a postmodern term for entertainment, which is a lot more fun than politics, but totally different.
    Right. We’re smarter than that. We can tell a comedy act — whether Moore or Coulter — from a candidate, even if the comics think they’re serious and the candidates don’t know they’re comical.
    THEN WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THE FUK UP ABOUT THE ROLE OF HOWARD STERN VOTERS IN THIS ELECTION??!??! Either that, or learn to stay on message dammit