On this election day, the cold-blooded monsters like us whose business is our nation's flow of public information are thinking not about political hope, but about hope for continued high ratings; not about political change, but about people changing the channels. (Speechwriter-ly!). What it comes down to is this: once this election's over, will the public still care about all these media outlets who've been living it up thanks to public interest in politics? Let's round up the media's nervous take on the media's future!
- What will it mean for political media? We're looking at you, Politico! I mean, who the fuck outside the Beltway will want to read Politico after this campaign is over, seriously? No offense guys. They have plenty of good reporters, but Jesus. Huge readership decline, is what I'm saying here. John Koblin at the Observer has Politico's memo to staff today laying out what the editors see as the paper's future. Basically they say, yes, readership will decline, but their business model is to reach "influentials," which they already do well, so they should be cool:
This business model, we believe, insulates us to a large measure against the adverse trends in both the media business and the economy more broadly.
- I'd predict layoffs at the Politico within a year. But we'll see!
- What will it mean for television networks? The big networks are counting on Americans giving up on this political shit and getting back to what we do well: Watching horrible TV shows. Just consider this lead from a THR story today on this very topic:
Could the big winner on Election Day be "Knight Rider"?
- Christ, that implies so many scary things. But the likelihood is that cable news rating will drop post-election and those viewers will go back to mindless network dramas and bad comedies, where they were before. Thank god Obama has done his part for Knight Rider.
- What will it mean for comedy? Oh this is the most interesting of all, be honest. Will everybody forget about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? More broadly, will all these political comedians who teed off on Bush and the Republicans for the last eight years be able to do the same on the Democrats. And most importantly of all: Will white comedians figure out how to make fun of Barack Obama? Early indications are bad. I mean, have you seen SNL do Obama? It's disgracefully unfunny. Maybe start by getting... a black guy to play him? Too hard? Here's the problem: everyone is worried about what Obama's election will do to the comedians who are already established. Fuck that. This will be a golden age for black comedians! It's about fucking time! This is what nerdy white comedians are worried about:
"In front of white liberal audiences — which is what most comedy clubs are, even in red states, it's always that blue-state element — if I try doing race jokes about Obama you can hear the sphincters tighten up faster than lug nuts on a '57 Ford. Until I can say 'President Homey' and get away with it, it's going to be a little tougher."
- Hey fool, you know why you can't "get away with it?" Because "President Homey" is not funny. Not "racist"—rather, "not funny." I expect black comedians to be one of the few demographics to see their salaries rise over the next year. Woo ha.
- What will it mean for the Huffington Post? They will have fewer readers. But most of the ones who leave will be wingnuts.