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.