Sunday, 30 March 2014


by Colin Liddell

If not a hard on, I've got at least a soft spot for Rachel Maddow.

Ever since she picked up on my article Holocaust Amnesia Day, and propelled it to undying international fame sometime last year, I've suspected that our destinies may be conjoined in some dark and intimate way. There is definitely a certain synergy between Ms. Maddow's show and the Alternative Right.

I guess we need repellent Liberals like her on the mainstream media to stampede decent people towards us and break the yellow tape that has been strung around our deeply taboo views; while she and her ilk need us to practice their two main skills of pointing and sputtering. In view of her perfectly legitimate sexual preferences and practices, you could even say that we need each other as much as dykes need dildos.

It therefore pains me to see that MSNBC is holed beneath the waterline and sinking quicker than the Lusitania in the Irish Sea, losing a quarter of its viewers in 2013, according to Pew Research. CNN isn't doing so well either:

"The Nielsen Media Research data show that the biggest decline came at MSNBC, which lost nearly a quarter (24%) of its prime-time audience. CNN, under new management, ended its fourth year in third place, with a 13% decline in prime time."

Why exactly is this? The natural response on our side of the spectrum is to say because the Left are a bunch of unnatural and unwatchable freaks of nature – exhibit one Rachel "Mad Cow" Maddow, etc., etc. – and that people are now starting to realize this and are "waking up."

I don't buy that. This explanation naively ignores what cable news was, is, and how it has been changing. Yes, we all have a desire to know more or less what is going on in the world and who Natalia Poklonskaya is, but for most of us these simple needs can be fulfilled by logging on and checking a few headlines or our Facebook feed.

News channels like the big three – Fox, CNN, and MSNBC – now exist not so much as information sources but as critiques.

As the Frankfurt School well understood, a critique has to be against "the system," not with it. When it is with the system then it effectively mimics the sort of thing you can find on the airwaves above the Korean Peninsula, and will only be watched if the watchers themselves are being watched and punished for not watching.

MSNBC announcing the launch of Obamacare.

When cable news started out, internet use was limited, and rolling news TV was a convenient way to quickly find out what was happening on that big blue thing near the Moon. At that point its informative function outweighed its role as critique. But every year since then critique has gained, so that most people switching on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC already know what they'll be running with and are just looking for the spin. It's almost as if the wine industry were reduced to selling you the labels on the bottles rather than the wine inside.

If we see cable news as essentially a means of critique rather than a means of information, and if we see critique as something that can best exist outside "the system" that is being critiqued, then we can start to understand the various fluctuations in viewing figures.

This graph breaks it down and keeps it simple, with figures covering the last ten years. Fox has been on top since 2002, a couple of years before the start of the graph, when it overtook CNN, the early pioneer and leader of cable news. So, for Fox there have been two notable surges, one before the graph starts and one after, when, as the graph shows, it pulled strongly away from CNN and MSNBC. The other notable feature of the viewing trends is MSNBC surging up from 2007 and maintaining that position while CNN falls down into third place.

All of these fluctuations can be explained by the theory that cable news has increasingly become mere critique, and that critique must exist against the system.

The years between 2006 and 2008 are a good place to start. At this time the Bush Neocon government was particularly unpopular, and a lot of excitement was being generated by the prospect and then the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama. Under these conditions both of the Democrat-leaning cable channels did very well. They were both providing strong critiques against the perceived system.

One general rule that can be deduced is that because cable news actually exists as cable critique a Democrat-leaning station will do better when the Republicans are in power and vice versa. This is why Fox does well. Because Obama is in power! If Romney had won the last presidential election, you could be sure that they would be seeing much sharper dips in ratings by now.

The great paradox here is that cable stations actually work towards cutting their own throats. MSNBC and CNN wanted Obama, even though having McCain or someone even more Republican as president would have bolstered their viewing figures. Fox wants rid of Obama (or whoever his appointed successor is) even though the success of their business model is founded on him being there to hate.

Yes, there is a kind of stupidity in this, but a greater stupidity is not to realize the ground fact that cable news has now become cable critique. Of the three channels, CNN was clearly behind in this respect, endeavouring, despite its inherent Democrat biases, to remain somewhat objective. Fox and then MSNBC, by developing more critique-oriented approaches, were thus able to overtake it.

One important thing that has to be explained is the initial surge of Fox News and why it continued to surge even when Bush had been elected President. The initial part of its first surge was of course due to anti-Clinton feeling, when the channel was providing a useful critique of “the Clinton system.” Why did this then continue when the Bush administration became the system? The obvious answer is 9-11. With America under attack by terrorists and involved in wars oversees, "the system" to critique became a perceived hostile world of rampaging Muslims and anti-American Europeans. Fox New’s success from 2001 until 2004, when it dipped a bit, can be ascribed to that paranoid "us vs. them" stage. The network then got its second-wind from the rise and election of Obama.

Of course for us on the Alternative Right, it is absurd to think of Democrats and Republicans as representing separate "systems." We see them as all part of the same system. That is part of our critique. The most heartening stat from the recent viewing figures is that the three cable channels are collectively in decline, with a drop of 11% to the lowest figure since 2007, when the rise of Obama powered critiques on both sides.

The only strong channel remains Fox, which has almost twice as many viewers as the other two combined, but a victory for the Republicans in the next Presidential election would see them shrink to a similar status as their rivals, while not necessarily boosting their rivals that much.

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