The Cable News Problem

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If you live in Washington and work in politics, it’s always almost shocking to read the truth about how low the ratings are for cable news. Especially when you’re talking about daytime cable news in a non-election year. As Kevin Drum says “Take away the echo chamber and Glenn Beck would be about as important as a guy on a soapbox in Central Park. Which is basically what he is.”

But the reason it’s hard for political pros in DC to grasp this is that people in Washington are constantly watching cable news. It’s really weird. Obviously there’s no way to make this happen, but I think our politics would get a lot healthier if you could simply prevent anyone from watching it during working hours. People would find out that total ignorance of what’s on TV would leave them about as in touch with their constituents are they are right now since nobody watches cable news. By contrast, outlets that really are influential in terms of determining what people know—things like local broadcast TV news—are never watched by DC political professionals because you can’t see them without living in the local area.