Posted On: Wednesday - August 18th 2021 7:27PM MST
In Topics:   Internets  TV, aka Gov't Media  Websites
(Continued from Part 1.)
I found some information that could have been in the Part 1 post after the fact. From Forbes magazine this 2000 article, The Decline of the Major Networks, by Karlyn Bowman, has some information to bolster our view that these 3 TV networks were a large portion of Americans' "news feed" for the first 4 decades of television, leading up to the internet age.
Twenty-seven million to 29 million viewers, on average, tuned in every night to hear Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. Today, though, the viewership of evening news programs on CBS, NBC and ABC combined is smaller than CBS' when Cronkite sat in the anchor's chair. In a 2008 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, just 8% reported regularly watching Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News broadcast.I didn't find it easy just now to find relative viewership numbers, but if CBS news was ~ 1/3 of the national news viewing than that 28 million x 3, or ~85 million meant from 35% to 45% of Americans were watching the TV news during this era. (Going from the beginning to the end of the Cronkite era, that is.)
There were those 3 guys, telling it "the way it is" (supposedly) to over one third of Americans each night, for a few decades in what was a very unified country.* Was it more unified due to our watching the same guys tell it "the way it is"? There were newspapers, and our lyin' eyes, for alternate opinions, but I would say those trusted TV figures united Americans around a common narrative, not always right, but mostly agreed on.
A 1973 poll by Oliver Quayle--much cited in coverage of Cronkite's death--labeled Cronkite the most trusted man in America. In the poll, he earned higher marks than then-President Richard Nixon. A 1975 poll from Roper Starch Worldwide found that more than 90% of respondents could identify Cronkite, and around 90% had a great deal of respect or at least some respect for him.Uhhh, higher marks for trust in a man than in Richard Nixon. What's that like, the amount of trust I have that our cat will not jump up on the table and eat a piece of broccoli when we turn our backs?** The stat on Dan Rather rings pretty true to me. Had the pollsters just asked me a simple question, I'd have been in that other 79% even a decade earlier.
In 1981, when Cronkite announced his retirement, 81% had a positive opinion of him. By comparison, shortly before Dan Rather delivered his last broadcast as CBS news anchor in 2005 just 21% of respondents to a Gallup poll said that they believed him all or even most of the time.
That brings me down memory lane which finally leads to the internet. Already 13 years or so after Dan Rather had started his news anchoring gig, I first got on the internet. No, I didn't understand what the hell was going on with it (the univ. library had a 1 hour class which just confused me more, as they didn't have a clue either), but I do know that there were these certain few websites you could read stuff on. I tried to find out where to buy a few shirts of a brand that Wal-Mart didn't have anymore. I looked up stuff on my hobbies where there was any. My same favorites and "clicked links" were still there on a university computer a week or two later. About 4 years later, one could, like, buy a book on the computer! I didn't. I'm no early adopter.
A couple of years later, yahoo had their front page, as the other search "engines" did during the .com 1.0 heyday, but I had already sickened of the hype there. (I only went for the free email, and unfortunately, though it takes about 5 x as many clicks to log in now, I have some legacy accounts there.) For a couple of years, other than during a stint reading the Wall Street Journal for a while, trying to get though even the "Marketplace" section to learn something***, I was off the media period. It was mid-2002 at the latest, because I remember where I was, when I was reading Instapundit regularly. Yeah, he was a Neocon in the early days, but Law Prof. Glenn Reynolds has always been a pretty fair guy. He linked to all sorts of stuff, and he had his whole extended family of blog-children, as he called them. I remember Tim Blair from down under, for one.
The web news and opinion "space" was still small enough to where I'd see a new site reference others I already knew most of the time, and one could go in circles. That doesn't mean there wasn't a lefty "space" with their own circle of opinion givers. The right referenced the left, but I have no idea if the left referenced the right. I wasn't in that space and didn't want them in my face.
Well, the Instaman got me to FrontPageMag by David Horowitz, the ex-red-diaper Commie, and other sites with regular daily articles. During the first half of the '00s, I did a stint of a guy named The Agitator (Radly Balko), two gun guys - Massbackwards and Alphecca (gay gun guy, to be precise), some high-strung gal named Rachel something, the excellent Libertarian/Constitutionalist Vin Suprynowicz**** in the Las Vegas Review Journal (met him in Lost Wages and he gave me a book). I almost forgot a few other gun guys - the Western Rifle Shooters Blog, Sipsey Street Irregulars (I met Mike Vanderbough at a rally in Washington FS.), and Kim Du Toit, that I kept up with along the way.
I was a regular reader of The American Spectator and used to comment. My favorite memory was of a drawn out discussion with some lady in the comments there on why I felt perfectly fine saying "I'm glad Ted Kennedy is dead". That really narrows the time line down for that one. (Yeah, it was because the fucker was still in office. I told her that if he had been just a retired Senator, as much as I hated his policies, I wouldn't have written that. Yet, if his dying was the only way to be rid of him from the US Senate, then, hell yeah, I was glad he'd died.*****)
I had a couple year stint reading Reason magazine's Hit and Run blog, commenting there too, as I still got the paper magazine. That was right up until that I not only realized that these people were Open Borders proponents but how stupid an idea that was.
I must have started reading VDare, per my wise Dad's conversations about immigration, though not particularly that website, during that time reading Reason and the end of that time. The financial state of this country really hit me a few years later, as I got into Zerohedge sometime in '11. I mean, I was heavily into it, reading each post and all comments along with them. One could do that still through '12 sometime. I was wise enough not to sign up to comment, just because, well, that time-wasting thing that has now hit me hard on... well, you know....
What was next? I know I've left out some, but I'll just go up now till the founding of this blog in late November of '16. A month later, I ended up on The Unz Review and realized that one doesn't have to give out his life's story (or real email address even) to comment and put in links to Peak Stupidity. Yeah, I do comment too much there - people will tell me as much, but those aren't the people I'm up for listening to. In the words of South Park's Eric Carman, "I do what I wan!"
I hope that wasn't boring, as possibly some of those sites are ones you all have perused over the years. Anyway, that all leads to the very small blogroll on the right. I could definitely fill up the column with more - that's just a matter of laziness about writing reviews of them.
I have my current corner of the internet that I have become comfortable with. It is a very small corner. Others are in their own corners, of which there are many. How can a people be united in any way with this method of getting news and opinion? As far as news goes, that's what I do like about this internet world - one can go as far as he wants in seeking the truth. I am not really knocking that part. As for opinions, well, yeah, they are like assholes, but not all assholes are equal, to paraphrase a certain group of pigs in a George Orwell book.
The stupidity goes as deep as one wants to follow links down to. It's up to each of us to get to the truth. I don't see too much wrong with this, other than what would have been coming anyway, the dividing of America due to completely unreconcilable opinions . Would it have happened this way if still over a third of Americans gathered around to watch one of the same three guys for a half hour each weekday evening? So long as we let the Commies infiltrate and the hard-core foreigners come in massive numbers, yeah. Walter Cronkite sure wasn't going to do anything about it!
We just better do all we can to keep the internet from being controlled even more than it is. That's a big worry.
Thank you all for visiting this little corner of the internet! There was a commenter in that great and funny group on Zerohedge in '11 with the handle "Seek the Truth". I like that one.
* due to that 1921-24 halt to significant immigration, only cranked back up in earnest in 1965. That 1965 disaster of a law took a while to take, though, meaning there had been a full 4 to 6 decades of assimilation.
** He loves it. Yes, we have a weirdo.
*** Yeah, I didn't know how much of the "trading" talk was just bullshit. See our post on "technical trading", which is anything but technical.
**** More on Vin here and here.
***** I wrote this thing about Ted Kennedy up in Speaking Dead of the Ill - re Juan McAmnesty with more about the latter in Juan McAmnesty - Rot In Place