The Dogs Don’t Like It

The title of this post is the punchline to an old, old story about the limits of advertising; a story which may or may not be based on fact. The story goes that a big food-manufacturing conglomerate came up with a brand new formulation for dog food, and advertised it with a huge, costly campaign: print ads, TV commercials, product placement in movies, TV shows, county fairs, giveaways and sponsorships; the whole ball of wax … and the product cratered. The CEO of the company is irate and demands answers from anyone who can give him a reason why. Didn’t they do everything possible to make their dog food brand the market leader? Image everyone at that meeting looking nervously at each other at this point – because they have done everything possible … except for one small thing. Finally, someone gets up sufficient nerve to answer. “But the dogs don’t like it.”

This is the point that I believe has been reached with regard to the establishment news and entertainment media with regard to a major segment of the American public: the final consumer is pushing the plate away and saying, essentially, “I don’t like it.” This is not going down well with the major purveyors of the news dog-food. Witness CNN’s Jim Acosta, getting all bent out of shape at being heckled, harassed, and having uncomplimentary signs held up in back of him as he tries to do a live stand-up. It’s not enough for the manufacturers of media dog-food to have been biased on the progressive side since the days of Kennedy and Nixon, to have carried water for Bill Clinton and John Kerry, worshipped adoringly at the feet of Obama and all but carried the juggernaut of his candidacy over the finishing line twice, then to have attempted the same with Hilary, only to have Her Inevitableness, the Dowager Empress of Chautauqua fumble an election that was already almost in the bag for her. The last two years have seen the establishment news hounds (and their fellow-travelers in government, entertainment and academia) go completely bug-nuts with fury. How dare those – those – those deplorables in Flyoverlandia, those ignorant, racist hicks vote for that – that – reality TV star!?

They were so certain that the arrow of history was only ever going to fly one way – their way, the correct way. They were so certain of this … but then to find out that a good half of the country didn’t agree sent them into a spiral of angry, baffled, unthinking rage. You would have thought that the good progressive, socially conscientious producers of news, entertainment, education and government rules should have known better, even if only out of self-interest. You’d have assumed they would realize at the start that pouring vituperative contempt on potential customers, clients, and consumers would only end in tears. As it happens, they didn’t – and the contempt flowed as freely as Sarah Jeong’s twitter feed. That apparently unbalanced young person may or may not get to keep a cushy job at the New York Times, the so-called paper of record, given a demonstrated tendency to vent a reservoir of spleen the size of Lake Michigan. A reasonable person might ask why she should, given that Roseanne Barr got the sack from her television show for far less insulting materiel.

Uncomfortable things happen to establishments like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, the NFL, Evergreen College and cities like San Francisco when the dogs don’t like it. Are we now at the point where the dogs take their eyeballs, their subscriptions, their entertainment and educational budgets and go elsewhere … and those places and more start feeling the bite? Which hurts … and they have no one but themselves to blame for not pleasing the dogs. Discuss, if you are so inclined.

13 thoughts on “The Dogs Don’t Like It”

  1. Yes, marketing by insulting your prospective customers doesn’t really deserve the name marketing. It tends to be justified as ‘firing up the base’, but I think it’s often nothing more than unhinged emotionality.

    The Left is the worst at this, but it’s not totally absent on the other side, either. I see a lot of blog posts, FB posts, etc, that are written in such a way as to have no likely appeal to those who aren’t already singing in the choir.

  2. My understanding is that CNN’s ratings are abysmal, even compared to non-news cable channels. And the fact that the NYT is considered important is bizarrely out of whack with the number of readers it has. It should be considered a peer of Salon and The Nation, and CNN should be treated like The Discovery Channel. There is no reason to pay them any deference at all.

  3. CNN is part of Time-Warner, which…if the DOJ appeal does not succeed…is about to become part of AT&T.

    Is AT&T top management going to go along with CNN’s behavior? My bet would be Yes.

  4. The problem isn’t CNN and their stupid antics. The problem is the fact that our society treats them with bizarre deference for no reason. The media is trash. The first amendment is designed to protect the trash from the government, enemy of my enemy sort of stuff. The first amendment doesn’t mean we have to pretend that trash ain’t trash. A century ago Americans didn’t think the media was some sort of priesthood, bearer of truth and immune to criticism. It’s stupid to do so now.

  5. Brian…the important point, IMO, is that the First Amendment does *not* establish a media priesthood via some sort of reverse bill of attainder. This and other blogs are as much “the press” from a First Amendment standpoint as are CNN, ABC, NBC, NYT, et al.

    Indeed, it has been argued that ‘freedom of the press’ refers to ‘freedom of the *printing* press’, rather than to a particular class of entities. Surely, the Founders intended the Amendment to protect pamphleteers who used job-shop printing as much as formal newspaper enterprises which operated on a large scale, for the times.

  6. the news media is focused on the usual TV watchers, who are not know for close reasoning.

    There is a large population for whom “The View” and the late night “comedians” are the “news.”

    This is the audience for MSNBC and CNN. They are not zero but the response to the NFL theatrics suggests they are not a majority.

    The recent poll suggesting that 29% of blacks now support Trump is a harbinger. If the left loses blacks they are kn for a cold winter.

    I still see a lot of leftist comment on Facebook that suggests there is a group, including lots of school teachers, who have not awakened from the hysteria.

    We will see how many they are on November 6,

    The Democrats have focused on the Secretary of State office in Ohio, suggesting that vote fraud is a tactic they plan to use.

    Don’t get cocky. The only game in town may still be rigged.

  7. When I read of Jim Acosta’s rant I thought that whether the MSM covers Trump or not makes little difference to me. They are agenda driven and no longer relevant for at least half the country. And they refuse to acknowledge this.

    The NYT hiring of Sarah Jeong – and then to hear of their pathetic defense of her – doesn’t even anger me – it is simply more confirmation of their “objectivity”


  8. @David Foster: Sometimes it is good to see the “singing to the choir” posts because, at least for me, I get the overwhelming feeling of being put upon by TPTB and the Lame Stream Media. I watch CNN from time to time just to see how “unhinged” they are and it is rather chilling that they mostly take an opposing view of anything done by Trump, or anything good for the US. They are literally “anti-American.” It is good to hear from fellow citizens who think and feel the way I do and to realize that there is a sizable resistance to the BS that is put up as news.

    @Brian: I agree completely, they should not get any deference at all, except that they somehow (where is the FCC on this?) have a lock on so many cable tv offerings and in places like hotels, motels, and other public gathering establishments, that makes it unfair competition. They are “bundled” into the plans for “free” and are many times the only “news” options available.

  9. Is it true that The New York Slimes will be switching to yellow newsprint (That will not show urine stains as much under the litter or bird cages)? Besides, that would be a traditional acknowledgement of the “product” that they have been offering.

    Or maybe “pink”.

    As I understand, “all” of the publications in the early national period were propaganda for some faction or another. The MSM are as “traditional” as they possibly be. “Journalism” had a brief flowering as another “fad” of the 20th Century. The propagandists “curb stomped” that upstart almost immediately.


  10. In reference to the anecdote, it is a good illustration of the limits of advertising. We often hear moaning about how nefarious ad agencies are able to make millions do their bidding. They are pretty good at getting people’s attention and getting them to try it once. They are good at creating brand and loyalty for essentially similar products. They aren’t that good at getting people to like something they don’t like.

    For those old enough to remember the history, when Limbaugh burst upon the scene his critics were infuriated that he was leading so many astray with these strange teachings. That wasn’t it at all. 75% of Rush was cleverly articulating what people were already thinking, putting it into an organised form, puncturing the gas balloons of the left, and letting people know they weren’t the only ones. He did introduce new material, but it was usually only a short distance from those ideas already in place.

  11. Limbaugh drives the “left” to apoplexy by being effectively immune from pressure, especially, advertiser boycotts. For those that don’t know: the affiliates that broadcast the show pay nothing for it. Each show has local slots for which the local affiliate receives 100% of whatever they can sell them for and national slots for which Limbaugh/EIB receive the money. There are very few places where there probably aren’t several stations hoping for the incumbent to chicken out and give them a chance.

    I assume that national advertisers realize that they will come under pressure sooner, later or continuously and that being seen to give in will lead inevitably to a probably much more effective, wholly informal, counter-boycott. He and most of his affiliates have a long waiting list of advertisers.

  12. Limbaugh has been very clever to do this. Fox News have caved to a number of these boycotts and is gradually confirming Conquest’s second law.

    “2. Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left wing.”

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