A quote from Jonathan Klein, the President of CNN, on the Charlie Rose Show (thanks to John Fund in OpinionJournal's Political Diary for the pointer):
Charlie Rose: If [somebody came in] and said, we believe there is the absence of progressive opinion as people now believe on cable news, would that have been successful as FOX has been? My question said another way: Is it the fact that they have some, a formula, and it doesn`t matter what the politics are, or the politics make a difference?
JONATHAN KLEIN: They've tapped into an outrage that's lurking among a certain small segment of the population, mostly angry white men, and those men tend to be rabid. They tend to be habitual. They tend to like to have their points of view reinforced. And a, quote/unquote, "progressive" or liberal network probably couldn't reach the same sort of an audience, because liberals tend to like to sample a lot of opinions. They pride themselves on that. And you know, they don't get too worked up about anything. And they're pretty morally relativistic. And so, you know, they allow for a lot of that stuff. You know, the -- FOX is very appealing to people who like to get worked up over things.
Is that really so -- "progressives" and liberals (as opposed to conservatives) "don't get too worked up about anything"? Not about guns? Not about abortion rights? Not about religious conservatives? Not about President Bush, especially during the 2004 campaign?
And recall that Klein isn't just saying that not all progressives and liberals "get too worked up about" things. His claim is that Fox is succeeding because they've "tapped into an outrage that's lurking among a certain small segment of the population" that's "rabid" and "angry." But apparently there isn't even a matching small segment of the population that's progressive or liberal, angry, and "worked up about" things.
I'm pretty skeptical when either side makes these sorts of generalizations about the other. People on the left and on the right both come in many temperaments, some angry and some calm, some interested in sampling a lot of opinions, some (probably most, I suspect) not. There may be some systematic differences in temperament, but I suspect that they're not huge. And one certainly shouldn't trust people on either side to properly identify them based on impressionistic judgments: There's a natural human tendency to see the best in people who agree with you, and the worst in people who disagree.
But while I surely wouldn't say that all or even most liberals (or even all or most progressives) like to get "worked up about" things, it seems to me quite clear that at least a "small segment" of them sure does enjoy that sort of stuff. The CNN President seems quite mistaken here.