Life in the Land of Programming Executives

So I’m a bit late on this one, but in the wake of hiring noted Jackass Michael Weiner/Savage, MSNBC now has added Peggy Noonan (visit TBogg or Pandagon for amusing Noonan stories). It’s somewhat amusing to watch programming decisions, because there really is an obvious herd mentality. The “Reality TV” wave launched by Survivor is a prime example (pop quiz: how many of you knew that Survivor is still around?) When Friends first became popular, I could picture programmers and writers sitting in a room saying “You know what would be great?”…”if we had eight friends and they were just like these six but better looking”. Remember when ER begat Chicago Hope and a few more knockoffs? Remember the horrible game show wave sparked by Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I’m no student of TV history, but I think it took a British dominatrix to rid the nation of that plague. Funniest Home Videos are another example.

The point is that in the TV business, there really does seem to be an instinctive urge to copy whatever is popular, and copy it until everybody is sick of it: one creative idea pops up, all the networks copy it to death, then everyone hates it. It must be TV’s version of the Hotelling Model, or some bastardized version of the Median Voter Theorem. (Both models show how competition can in some instances drive all rivals to the same place).

What does all this have to do with MSNBC hiring noted Jackass Michael Weiner, crackpot Peggy Noonan, and other shining lights of the right wing? Well it occurs to me that possibly, just possibly, this is simply another programming wave, sparked in this case by Fox News’ dramatic rise. But if other programming waves are a good indicator, after the flow comes the ebb. Will conservative news/commentary go the way of Reality TV and Millionaire? I don’t know, but MSNBC is doing its best to drive the format into the ground (of course, for MSNBC’s programming choices to actually affect viewer tastes, somebody would presumably actually have to be watching MSNBC–call me an optimist).


Note the Angry Bear Milestone! No, not surpassing 10,000 hits. This is the first link to the Drudge Report.