Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mindless media hype

Who watched the TV broadcasts of the Republican and Democratic conventions?

The short answer is: not too many people

More than 85% of adults in America didn’t bother to watch either of the nominees giving the big acceptance speech.

Fox News had the biggest average audience for all eight nights of the Republican and Democratic conventions—but, hold on, only 1.8% of adults were watching Fox on a given night.

Possibly we’re having the most emotionally charged presidential election of all time—Tom Jefferson and Andy Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt didn’t have television to deal with. It’s scarcely credible, but nevertheless, most Americans didn’t give a hoot about watching those big speeches. Obviously, most Americans didn’t learn anything much from them.

For the seeming endless hours of convention coverage by the broadcast and cable channels, much of the time only a tiny minority of Americans was watching, regardless of the pompous blather of Wolf and Rachel and Megyn and all the others.

While I’m on this topic, I’ll give a thumbs down to, which blasted this headline on its website yesterday: “Trump tops Clinton on speech ratings” and to TheHill writer Joe Concha, who started his story with “Donald Trump has defeated Hillary Clinton…” The underlying details tell a much less provocative story.

Here’s the detail: Trump had a reported audience of 34.9 million people, and Clinton’s audience was 33.3 million. The audience ratings are reported from a survey sample of about 5,000 viewers. I have long experience in the design of surveys, and I feel real comfortable guessing that the margin of error in this audience report makes it ludicrous to say one candidate “tops” another, or one candidate “has defeated” another. The viewing audience for Trump and Clinton was close to being the same, probably no significant difference between them.

In their convention coverage, the media generally didn’t take any opportunity to minimize the hype or the preposterous emphasis on discord.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

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