Power of Opposition Media

Something to consider within media: magazines, newspaper, and now cable news networks grow rapidly when they are perceived to be in the opposition. We might argue it is easier to be in the opposition, united against something. Consensus leadership is far more difficult.

MSNBC is rising because it is in opposition to something. There's an energy and passion involved.

Fox News can try to sound like an opposition platform, but opposing what? Protecting what at-risk group?

You can be in the majority and still be an oppressed community. Power has nothing to do with numbers; power is about control.

Right now, MSNBC represents a majority of voting-age U.S. residents opposed to Pres. Trump. Majorities are interesting because they are fleeting. Once the current power falls to another leader, that leader usually ends up with a majority opposed to policies and statements.

In other words, opposition is fun, energizing, and easier.

Fox News Channel exploited its role as a voice of opposition to build a huge ratings lead. Now, MSNBC and other outlets (including Saturday Night Live) have the benefit of opposition.

Being the leading voice of opposition carries risks, too. Select a "side" within the opposition and a media outlet risks alienating others within the opposition. Fragmentation can happen quickly, especially when the division are deep and emotionally charged.

The best thing about a democratic republic is that in the future, today's opposition will be in power. By nature of the system, power keeps swapping, like a pendulum. In theory, the best ideas from all groups slowly win, or at least the apparently best ideas win temporarily.

Opposition right now is rather easy. Lots of groups oppose policies of this president for a variety of reasons. But, it would be a mistake for MSNBC or any other media outlet to assume the opposition itself is in agreement on complex topics.

It will be interesting to see the political landscape in eight or 12 years. The Democratic opposition was certain the downfall of Richard Nixon would lead to Democratic dominance in state and national elections. Instead, they had four years of Jimmy Carter and then... well, nationally we know the last 25 years have been bad for the Democratic party in state-level elections.

I caution the MSNBC management to develop a plan for after this president. Fox didn't have a plan for after his election. Will MSNBC have a plan for after his exit?


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