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Legacy Media Won’t Die Quietly

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From the beginning, legacy media outlets have almost always worked together, even when, in theory, they have been rivals. Newspapers used to print the same quotes. Now websites republish the same stories and news networks never take a stance the other wouldn’t approve. Though legacy media limps along, moving farther away from consumers each decade, it still operates as an invincible monopoly.

Such a strategy works as long as alternatives remain scarce. However, in the past four years, the blue-chip media has self-destructed, which in turn, has led directly to a gold rush of media independence.

Legacy media continues to demand change from its audience in a one-way relationship. News agencies do not respond to consumer trends and instead continue with the methods responsible for their demise. As humorous as it sounds, journalists and anchors believe they provide a service that protects us from ourselves.

In some circles, mainstream outlets still wield influence. On Friday, we argued that you are not a number to your employer, but a skin color and gender combination. Corporate CEOs fear what’s written in the New York Times and said on MSNBC. So to appease the press, companies have grossly racialized the workplace. Politicians and celebrities remain similarly fearful of becoming a topic on Today or GMA.

Beyond corporate CEOs and celebrities though, the media’s influence begins to wane rapidly, barely reaching beyond offices in Manhattan and Silicon Valley.

Readers, viewers, and listeners have left outlets they grew up consuming and have since migrated to the type of content creators those outlets once warned them about. Tucker Carlson, Dave Chappelle, and Joe Rogan receive so much free coverage that even NBC News’ massive new billboard can’t rival the promotion.

Rogan’s podcast has grown in response to the condescending and disdainful attitude with which CNN has treated its viewers. Rogan can now change voters’ minds more effectively and more regularly than Chris Cuomo or Jake Tapper can. Rogan’s curiosity is more thought-provoking than Don Lemon’s monologues.

CNN no longer draws 800,000 viewers at any point throughout the day. And while metrics systems measure television ratings and digital downloads differently, recent data finds that the Joe Rogan Experience reaches an estimated 11 million people per episode.

Reporting that Rogan took horse pills didn’t push any viewers back to CNN. Instead, CNN’s failed takedown of Rogan further exposed the cable network’s desperation. If anything, CNN convinced more viewers to tune into Rogan for themselves.

In sports, ESPN has spent the past five years telling fans that white people are inherently evil and that professional sports leagues that are over 80% black are racist against black people. 

Countering these exact strategies has made Dave Portnoy over $100 million. No wonder scrubs like Sarah Spain despise Barstool. Spain’s unwelcoming schtick has led sports fans directly to Pardon My Take, the No. 1 sports podcast in the country. Meanwhile, Spain is stuck on a nightly radio program that no one hears.

On Saturday, both ESPN and Barstool sent their college football pregame shows to East Lansing for the Michigan-Michigan State matchup. ESPN’s GameDay appears on the right:

That’s not selective editing. Several photos found the same disparity between the two programs. Barstool’s fans trump whatever’s left of ESPN’s brand power.

Likewise, subscribers are canceling the New York Times and Washington Post to spend their money on Substack, one of the few writing services that allow writers to express independent ideas. Legacy media writers have become shamefully interchangeable, making the same dull arguments only with different headlines.

Glenn Greenwald discussed this phenomenon on Tuesday.

“The main reason a new, thriving media ecosystem has emerged — call it ‘Roganism’ if you need a label — is corporate news outlets are now so stifling, more rigidly repressive than ever with ideological homogeneity, so they all sound alike,” Greenwald tweeted. “People aren’t hungry for more of that.”

In short, it’s easy to call Donald Trump or Tucker Carlson “white” or “racist.” And that’s precisely the game plan.

Batya Ungar-Sargon reported on Bari Weiss’ Substack page that between 2013 and 2019, the frequency of the words “white” and “racial privilege” rose by 1,200% in the New York Times and by 1,500% in the slightly less useful Washington Post. Their friends at NPR — an outlet with hardly an audience — used “white supremacy” over 2,400 times in 2020.

Between the Times, the Post, and NPR, consumers can hardly find an article that doesn’t note the subject’s skin color. Users can discover similar depth in the comments section of a blog. The demand for racism far exceeds the supply.

Or the appetite. Substack, which does not compel writers to participate in this strange racial Olympics, now has more than 500,000 paying subscribers across all of its newsletters. At Substack, subscribers pay for individual writers that offer individual ideas and arguments, not a new version of the same script.

Matthew Yglesias has amassed 12,000 subscribers on Substack and he keeps around 90% of the revenue. Greenwald has said his newsletter generates more than $1.5 million annually. So journalism isn’t dead. The careers of elitist journalists who have condescending attitudes are dying though. Quickly.

Legacy media’s disconnect from the public stretches beyond race. Democrat Terry McAuliffe may lose the Virginia gubernatorial election this year because parents are stunned by the radicalization of the Virginia public school system, a system that the media has told us voters accept.

Now you know why the media, of all industries, aggressively supports boycotts and suppression. It’s their last, best hope. Unless NPR can help de-platform its challengers — who are clearly winning — it won’t be relevant again. Legacy media is a dying breed, holding onto its last gasp of prominence: calling people racist.

The media industry is self-satisfying. Nearly every member pursued a media career path to feel better about himself or herself and to garner symbols of importance — Ivy League degrees, awards, access, social followings, status, and public reaction. For such a group, nothing’s worse than this current state of insignificance for which they are responsible.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

9 Comments

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  1. Great column Bobby. I watched NBC News (local and national) in the morning for many years and started to feel like practically every story had racial overtones. So we switched to CBS a couple of years ago and it became the same thing. I except this kind of thing with CNN and MSNBC, but the mainstream networks were always perceived to be objective – at least they were when I was growing up. Fortunately I now get my news from alternative sources (like Outkick) so I actually know what’s going on in this country. Sadly there are still many people in this country who think what they hear/read from the mainstream media is fair and balanced.

  2. Truth hurts and i`m enjoying watching this dumpster fire called “mainstream media”. However, it doesn`t change the fact that 40% of this country will still go left, the other 40% will go right, and the last 20% stay indy. Still, I don`t mind watching ESPN continue to burn itself with all of it`s woke bullshit. Outside of actual games, NOBODY watches their program. Screamin` A Smith takes about 75% of the talent salary and the rest go to people nobody watches of listens to either. Lets go Brandon!!

  3. And when deep blue counties like Fairfax in VA are late getting their votes counted (perhaps so they can wait to see how many votes the Democrat will need…so they can dig them up), the legacy media won’t dare ask a question.

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