The media landscape has changed almost completely over the last 10 years. Major landmarks have been razed to the ground; entire mountain ranges have grown up out of the ruins. It’s almost unrecognizable.
Once the gold standard, legacy media outlets like CNN and the New York Times have become distrusted by well over half the country. The model introduced to mass media by lamentable pioneer Rush Limbaugh- narrative-driven news entertainment with a political bias- has become the new gold standard of the mainstream news industry.
Now there are a hundred Rush Limbaughs using the same formula on every channel but C-SPAN: Present a narrative, provoke a strong response by pitting one side of the political spectrum against the other, elevate the most extreme viewpoints and preach to the choir until the checks start flowing.
And the checks are certainly flowing. Most of the time, in the legacy media where groupthink has taken hold, the checks are flowing with the ad-clicks. And the ad-clicks flow to clickbait headlines intentionally designed to provoke a strong and angry response. It’s the only way to distinguish yourself currently; who can out-outrage all the other competitors.
The problem is that when you start dogmatically preaching exclusively to the choir- that is, the already converted- you tend to lose everyone else. The narrative-approving news consumers who remain are addicted to confirmation bias. The reward for having their worldview reinforced by someone they respect is too irresistible. As a result, news outlets who have adopted this model have no other choice but to continue to placate their remaining audience of diehard believers.
Rush Limbaugh never told his audience of ardent conservatives anything they didn’t want to hear about themselves or the world; not one unpalatable truth. That’s why they loved him so much, but it is also why his niche never widened.
The new Rush Limbaughs, on left and right, are trapped in the same ultimately failing business model because unlike the old Rush Limbaugh, they have a ton of competition for that niche.