How many people watch cable news?

FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2019

Is Manne the rational animal?:
How many people watch cable news? Our favorite blogger, Kevin Drum, may need to stay in a bit more:
DRUM (3/28/19): There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing these days about whether “the media” reported on the Trump-Russia scandal fairly over the past couple of years. My sense is that the coverage was generally OK, but it turns out that the criticism is mostly aimed at MSNBC, and specifically at Rachel Maddow. Did they blow it? Beats me. I haven’t watched any prime time cable shows for years. I have no idea what they’ve been saying. I consume almost exclusively print media.

So who’s right about this? Again, I don’t know. In one sense, I think it’s fair to say that not all that many people actually watch these cable shows: a few million total, and maybe half a million in the key 25-54 demographic. That’s about 1 percent of the voting-age population. On the other hand, those few million are political junkies who probably have influence out of proportion to their numbers. So maybe it’s fair to say that I’m missing the boat by not watching them and understanding what they’re up to. I wouldn’t dismiss the influence of Fox News, after all.
How many people watch cable news?

Drum says "a few million total." But on Wednesday night, just in the 9 PM Eastern hour, roughly 8 million people were watching Hannity, Maddow or Cuomo.

Roughly 6 million people were watching one of the cable nets during the 8 PM and 10 PM hours—and no, these aren't all the same people. We'll guess that the total number watching cable news at some point that evening was more like ten percent of the voting age population.

In the main, Drum was discussing a recent post in which Paul Waldman agreed with a philosophy professor and a pseudo-liberal pundit about the way female candidates allegedly get abused. The philosophy professor spoke thusly:
WALDMAN (3/25/19): That case came up in a recent conversation I had with Kate Manne, a Cornell philosophy professor and author of “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.” As Manne points out, when each woman currently running entered the race, a fatal flaw was quickly identified: Warren’s Native American ancestry, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) treatment of her staff, or Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) being, well, too ambitious…. “The real fatal flaw is ambition,” Manne says, “and wanting to lead, and wanting to have a male-dominated authority position at the expense of men—and particularly white men—in the race. And that implicitly becomes the basis for suspicion and moral condemnation.”
To our ear, Assistant Professor Manne seems to be working from scripture. Meanwhile, note Waldman's remarkable construction regarding Warren's alleged "fatal flaw."

According to Waldman, the fatal flaw which was quickly identified was "Warren’s Native American ancestry." In fact, the problem involved Warren's decades of ludicrous conduct regarding her claim to have such ancestry.

This ludicrous conduct has extended right into her current campaign, with Warren making some of the strangest unforced errors we've ever seen a major candidate make.

(A DNA test showed that, by any normal assessment, she doesn't have any significant Native American ancestry. Ever so strangely, Warren seemed to think that the DNA test had somehow confirmed her past claims.)

Drum wasn't necessarily inclined to buy the claim about female disempowerment. For ourselves, we'll note a fascinating comment last night by Yahoo's Hunter Walker, who spoke with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Walker is 34. That makes him a graybeard in some "cable news" circles—but even so, his memory only goes back so far:
WALKER (3/28/19): One really important point to make, I'm on the older side of it, but I'm still technically a millennial. And I'm old enough to remember when Obama wearing a tan suit was a scandal.

And it's only in this weird new upside-down world we're in where anyone could be suggesting that the president, you know, exchanging information with a foreign government, encouraging them to hack his rivals, isn't a scandal. I mean, imagine the outcry if Obama had reached out to the Russians or even the British and asked them to attack his Republican rivals. I mean, we would have seen a quadruple Benghazi.

O'DONNELL: Yes. I mean, just to clarify, and I know what you mean, Hunter, that the tan suit for President Obama was something that the Fox News world tried to turn into something disrespectful for a president to do. Of course, they didn't mean it. None of them meant it. They were just desperately looking for that moment. But that same side of the world puts up with every single overt outrage by this presidency that it never questions.
Speaking perhaps a bit puckishly, Walker said he was so old that he could remember when President Obama was attacked for having worn a tan suit.

Apparently, he couldn't remember when Candidate Gore was attacked, by the mainstream press corps, literally for years, for every possible aspect of his wardrobe—for his boots, his suits, his polo shirts, for the height at which he hemmed his pants, for the number of buttons (three) on his disturbing suit coats.

This criticism included the endlessly bruited complaint about Gore's alleged over-reliance on earth tones. Allegedly, Naomi Wolf had told Gore to wear earth tones as part of the process by which Gore had "hired a woman to teach him how to be a man."

These ugly, stupid, moronic critiques were voiced by major mainstream pundits for months leading on to years. Chris Matthews did this in his sleep. He was working for Welch at the time.

Did Elizabeth Warren get criticized for her decades of erroneous claims? Abject lunacy was directed at Candidate Gore all through Campaign 2000.

O'Donnell, of course, does remember all that, but he knew enough not to bring it up. He played a role in the mainstream war which sent George W. Bush to the White House.

Meanwhile, people like Assistant Professor Manne have often spent the past many years sleeping inside logs. In the particular case, Manne seems to be roughly 35, and she seems to hail from Australia to boot. (She arrived in the U.S. for graduate work in 2006.)

Our guess? The chances are very good that Manne has little idea how various American candidates have been treated in past campaigns. But given the way the human mind works, such limitations are unlikely to stand in the way of theory.

All too often, our professors don't have the slightest idea concerning events which have occurred in the actual world. All too often, their predictable assessments seem to be coming, live and direct, from powerful voices inside their heads, and from the realm of dogma.

All in all, our liberal tribe is just very dumb. We prove that when we run to agree with youngish assistant professors like Manne. This is certainly true of someone like Waldman, who understands, very well, that male candidates have sometimes been treated extremely poorly in the not too distant past.

Was man [sic] ever "the rational animal?" Our tribe's reliance on sachems like Manne tends to get people like Trump elected.
With observations like that in mind, we tend to tilt, very strongly, toward the obvious answer:


Fuller disclosure: At the University of Melbourne, Manne's undergraduate thesis bore this intriguing title:

“Toward a Solution to the Problem of Logical Omniscience: An Impossible Worlds Approach to Temporal-Epistemic Logic.”

Out of that solution to that problem, Manne developed her unparalleled knowledge of American campaign activity. As we have occasionally said, it's all anthropology now.


  1. In marketing, they call them influencers. So the people who watch the show go down to the barbershop or beauty salon or whatever and tell ten friends that Trump is horrible or Trump is great or whatever the message is. So the influence extends far beyond those actual numbers.

  2. "Did Elizabeth Warren get criticized for her decades of erroneous claims?"

    Erroneous claims?

    When you tell your friends you're part Indian, that's an erroneous claim.

    But when you advance your career by falsely claiming privileged 'minority' status, when you put it in official application forms, tsk, then, I'm afraid, it's something else...

    1. You should totally accuse Warren of doing that, even though she didn't. Moron Conservatives, oops, i mean those who are concerned about the economy, and are not at all bigots, will probably fall for it.

  3. Manne isn’t just talking about the press. She is talking about people in general when she discusses misogyny.

    And the press treatment of Gore does not disprove what Manne is saying.

    It does show how the press creates narratives. But think about the narratives developed about Gore: his clothing, with which he was obsessed (like a woman) was weird, he “hired a woman to teach him how to be a man”; or about Obama: he was a pantywaist; these narratives try to associate male candidates with female qualities, which are understood to be undesirable. That is a form of misogyny.

    And, if Somerby wants to haunt the comment section of Drum’s blog for purported examples of liberal cluelessness, he should be aware of the massive amount of criticism of the mainstream press that goes on there, including frequent denunciations of the press’ treatment of Clinton and Gore.

    So when he says that liberals “run to agree with youngish assistant professors like Manne”, and that this simultaneously involves a whitewashing of the treatment of Gore, or giving the msm a pass, he is simply wrong.

  4. Any tribe that includes such people as Glenn Greenwald, Bob Somerby, Susan Sarandon, Bernie Sanders, AOC, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Tulsi Gabbard, Joe Manchin and Doug Jones along with our purported thought leaders like Rachel Maddow and Nicolle Wallace could hardly be called extremely tribe-like.

    1. Or Ilhan Omar and Chuck Schumer.

    2. Hmm, Schumer is a big boss. Omar is nobody.

      Also, I believe a few days ago I saw Mr Greenwald calling the whole Maddow's goebbelsian enterprise 'total fraud and scam'. And about a year ago he called her "intellectually dishonest, partisan hack".

      So, if indeed they were in the same tribe, you'd have to keep them in separate wigwams.

      But of course they aren't. Liberals hate him and pigeonhole him as libertarian...

    3. Ahh, libertarian. The one-word way to say, "Fuck you. I got mine."

  5. You realize, of course that Trump has, in the past, claimed Swedish ancestry.

    But there's nothing wrong with that because Trump.

  6. Yes, our tribe is so dumb. Its Speaker of the House is a female, with 89 Democratic women serving in the House, many of whom were ushered into office in a significant retaking of the House. There are also 17 female Democratic senators, some of whom were also elected the last go-round.

    This indicates the importance of women to the Democratic Party. Somerby would apparently be happy if liberals never discussed race or gender ever again. At least blacks might be ignored, since they represent a smaller constituency, but not women. Somerby’s grasp on electoral politics is fairly shaky if he thinks Democrats can ignore women’s issues. And these issues, contrary to his implications, are not driven by some imaginary thought leaders on tv; they come from women’s own experiences. (The same is also true of blacks, of course).

    And yes, our tribe is so dumb it created and passed the ACA. Now, that was stupid, because we lost big in subsequent elections *because* of the ACA. But now, the ACA and its main provisions are popular with the public, so much so that the GOP’s war against it has come to look like bad politics.

    But we are so dumb.

    1. Electing your representatives on account of their genitalia isn't just dumb. It positively retarded in the most severe way possible.

    2. Aca not that popular. 50%. Pelosi worth 78 million and paid for by lobbyists. What has she done for working people? Aca written lobbyists. We all are still gauged by healthcare companies. You judge her on gender not deeds. Dumb.

  7. “We'll guess that the total number watching cable news at some point that evening was more like ten percent of the voting age population.”

    It’s always a good idea to inflate these kinds of numbers. Somerby wouldn’t want to rail at only 3% of the population for watching tv. (Voting age population of US: approximately 250,000,000, so 8,000,000/250,000,000=3%). (Maybe 2% of the liberals? We’ll just guess). It’s far better to know that Somerby’s blog relates to things that only 90% of the voting age population has no exposure to, rather than 97%. That 10% certainly justifies making sweeping conclusions about liberals in a way that 3% wouldn’t.

  8. Bob, congratulations on finally recognizing feminism for what it is: a secular religion.

    If you want to convince people that criticism of a woman is based on misogyny you have to show that the criticism itself is illegitimate. If you can't show it's illegitimate then you can assume misogyny. Warren not only ridiculously pretended to be an Indian when she wasn't but screamed racism when Trump, who I dislike, fairly called her out on it.

    Klobucher is supposed to be a nightmare boss, a charge no one would think of turning into a gender issue were it leveled in a man especially if the complaintqnts were women. In terms of insincerity a belief Gillibrand shows every sign of being Mitt Romney on steroids and he caught no end of hell for it, never mind the fact that she doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about due process when it comes to sexual assault complaints.

    Feminism is a cult and its adherents are insane. Patriarchy theory is based on the exact same type of thinking that leads morons to believe in the international Jewish conspiracy garbage. Feminists are unintentional fifth columnist working assiduously to ensure the re-election of Donald Trump, which would be a disaster. I hate the goddamn b******.

    1. Meh. Even if criticism directed at a woman appears to be unwarranted (which is, of course, a subjective judgement), there's still a million possible explanations for it.

      What is this 'misogyny' anyway? Have you ever met a 'misogynist'? I haven't. It's a completely fake, invented thing.

    2. The racism is in calling her Pocahontas and it is directed not against her but against Indian people as a group because it invokes stereotypes.

      It was foolish of Warren to put Native American on a club membership card, but she did it before she had any idea of going into politics and not for any personal gain. Her employer has stated categorically that she gained no employment advantage and did not use that identification when applying for a job.

      Many of us with Irish heritage emphasize that on St. Patrick's day and it is innocent, not for personal gain. She experimented with her identity. When Trump magnifies this into a big deal and calls her names, he is the one who is both mocking tribal heritage and evoking stereotypes. That's why he is racist, not Warren. Warren angered tribes by claiming something she had no right to, but Trump's statements are worse.

    3. This probably doesn't need to be said, but when Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President, mocks Warren by calling her Pocahontas, he is just playing another wink wink variation on the Welfare Queen theme popularized by another jolly old friend of the working class, Ronald Reagan. He is giving people like Comrade DinC another excuse to feel victimized, to be resentful of liberals "virtue signaling", to get back on the Whiney Whine train and take it out for another trip across the country. That is why he is a chickenshit coward, but he sure knows how to give DinC a woody!

    4. Some of the stories about evil boss Klobuchar are funny. A staff member brought her a salad without a fork to eat it with, so Klobuchar used a comb from her purse. Then she asked the employee to clean the comb for her. That's both resourceful and kind of funny, not horrific.

      But Hieronymous is fully prepared to consider her a bitch.

    5. Mao,

      If a criticism of a person is accurate and reasonable presuming bigotry makes no sense. I agree a criticism may be off base for reasons other than sexism, racism, etc. but Warren's absurd pretense of being Native American is open to being the target of plainly legitimate grief. That being the case I think I'm on especially firm ground in rejecting accusations of misogyny here.

      As for the two Anonymouses at 6:17 and 7:32, assuming that invoking "Pocahontas" is a racist insult makes no sense, especially when there is a far more logical and obvious reason for Trump's using it. Pocahontas is a famous, well-regarded female Indian figure. Calling Warren by that name is not racism, it is sarcasm. He wasn't damning her for being an Indian, he was calling her out for being a phony. Actually calling her by an Indian-based slur, which Pocahontas is not, would actually hurt him and help Warren. DT, for all his faults, knows how to play this game and win, whereas dweebs like Warren don't even know what the game is. If I was her, now that the whole Pocahontas thing is behind me, I'd start calling the President "Deadbeat Donald" and be telling everyone 24/7 that the real reason Trump won't show his tax returns is that he doesn't wan't people to find out that he's not really as rich as he claims to be and that he is exactly the kind of scam artist Warren is running against.

      But she won't do that because she's stupid.

      Finally, Anonymous at 11:53. Aside from the fact that asking a staffer to clean a personal care item is both gross and demeaning, you have exactly no basis to assume that I'm particularly interested in that story as opposed to the ones where she's said to have heaped unwarranted verbal abuse on them. As such you are making an especially moronic case. What an idiot.

    6. You make my point for me. It is demeaning to expect your boss to eat a salad without utensils, but there is nothing gross or demeaning about cleaning a comb, any more than cleaning a fork, unless you're a guy who doesn't clean stuff. "Unwarranted verbal abuse" is a pretty loaded term. We have no way of knowing what was warranted or not. When a man yells at an employee, he is tough, a boss. When a woman does it, she is being abusive, apparently. That's because the double standard requires women to be nice, pleasant, soft-spoken, to never show anger or yell, just as men are expected to never cry. Anger is male, sadness is female. Emotion is gendered in our society. And you have bought into it hook, line and sinker. But the emotions that go with leadership are unfortunately gendered male, not female, so women must cross gender lines in order to be perceived as strong, capable of leadership, of exerting authority. Here you want to deny Klobuchar the authority to treat her staff like subordinates. She has the right.

      Calling me a moron or any other name doesn't make you correct. It makes you a shithead.

    7. You really are a piece of work.

      1. You ignore my pointin out that your claim that I was concerned about the comb incident was utterly w/o foundation.

      2. A comb, as I have noted, is a personal care item, a fork is not. They are qualitatively different. You appear not to be aware of this. You don't ask professional staff to do your personal chores for you.

      3. You have zero evidence that the staffer "expected" her to eat w/o a utensil rather than the lack of fork being a hardly uncommon oversight. What a ridiculous assumption!

      3. It is true that the claims against her are so far unproven, but so what? Unflattering claims are made about men all the time before they're proven. Klobuchar has a reputation for meanness in excess of other people in congress INCLUDING OTHER WOMEN such as Warren, Harris or Gillibrand. She also is reported to have an unusually high staff turnover. That would seem to lend some credence to the charges.

      4. Men who abuse staff are considered bullies/assholes, although there are rare exceptions. The only way to get around that is if they demonstrate an unusually high level of competence, but that's rare. Abusive bosses are frequently used as villains in comedies precisely because people generally hate and do not respect them. The idea that men are typically excused when they do it compared to women is just a bigoted stereotype with little evidence to support it.

      The only reason I am arguing with you is because someone else might be reading this. I am satisfied that you have been soundly defeated in the eyes of any reasonable skeptic. Since your arguments have been demonstrated as incompetent this this is the last time I'm going to respond to you. I have other things to do. You are dismissed.

  9. "In fact, the problem involved Warren's decades of ludicrous conduct regarding her claim to have such ancestry." Somerby says.

    As if Warren got up every morning and hung out her Native American shingle, proclaiming to all her Indian heritage, each of every day for decades.

    Somerby is irritating when he uses language this way. He also makes Manne's opinion representative of all feminists, all academics, all liberals.

    I happen to agree with Manne. It is very obvious how Hillary was treated and now it is obvious how this election's female candidates are being treated. I don't care about Gore -- he tossed Bill Clinton under the bus and let Tipper proclaim war on Rock 'n' Roll and low-keyed climate change and refused to fight for the presidency he won. It wasn't anything to do with his suits or his political advisors (notice how Wolf is slimed but Somerby never mentions it). Gore lost because he gave up.

    Female candidates should be treated fairly. They won't be unless we point out how the media is applying those famous narrative scripts to handicap them in their campaigns. Somerby should care but we all know he is ambivalent about women and didn't like Hillary and doesn't give a fuck. Today it is OK with him to bash Manne. Tomorrow he will get around to kicking the female candidates directly.

  10. "Fuller disclosure: At the University of Melbourne, Manne's undergraduate thesis bore this intriguing title:

    “Toward a Solution to the Problem of Logical Omniscience: An Impossible Worlds Approach to Temporal-Epistemic Logic.”

    Out of that solution to that problem, Manne developed her unparalleled knowledge of American campaign activity. As we have occasionally said, it's all anthropology now."

    This is Somerby's way of calling Manne unqualified to discuss campaigns, as if having once written a thesis on philosophy, she can know nothing else about any other topic.

    Somerby wrote a thesis in philosophy too. Does that make him unqualified to perform as a standup comedian or unable to write about education and cheating, or unqualified to express opinions here in his blog? No more than Manne, who is now a professor and thus has written a dissertation too, on some other topic in philosophy. Not anthropology, philosophy. Is Somerby perhaps a bit envious? Here is a woman who might actually understand some of those books Somerby keeps complaining about.

    1. ... or, one might as easily ask, does Somerby's background as a standup comedian disqualify him to express political opinions — again, by his own very stilted classist criteria?

  11. Bob Somerby writes, once again:

    > Was man [sic] ever "the rational animal?"

    This, despite having been told repeatedly in past comments that the "[sic]" is inappropriate when not actually referring to a verbatim quote from the author — and Somerby feigns that he is quoting Aristotle, who used the word ἄνθρωπος [anthropos], better translated as "human" or "humanity", which is why anthropology is the study of humanity, though some may term it the study of Man or mankind.

    Further, Somerby misrepresents Aristotle's claim in order to argue against it — arguing with the "straw man" claim that humanity is always rational, which Aristotle did not assert — as Aristotle had only written that humanity possessed a λόγον ἔχον [logon echon], "rational principle", lacked by plants and other animals, which enabled human beings to make rational decisions... but did not mean that they would always and consistently do so, rather than (for example) act emotionally.

    Bob Somerby either does not read, or chooses to ignore, such corrective comments.