I'm not sure how many here at DailyKos watch "The View." I remember this diary, published the day Rosie O'Donnell announced she was leaving the show, indicated from the poll and comments that about equal numbers of DailyKos readers view O'Donnell herself as either good or bad for the progressive movement. Nevertheless, Rosie is not the only progressive voice on the show. Joy Behar, a stand-up comic who speaks with a nasally Brooklyn accent, is another extremely outspoken liberal and has been on the show for its full 10 years. Anyone who watches the show knows she does not buy into Rosie's conspiracy theories and often makes far more articulate arguments for progressive causes and against conservative dingbats.
Case in point: watch this interesting discussion concerning Ron Paul and Giuliani's exchange at the second Republican debate.
Let me first set up how this conversation came to be on the show.
The show always opens with 20 minutes of what is termed Hot Topics, during which the hosts of the show discuss topics ranging from politics to entertainment gossip to current events. Toward the end of the first segment, before the commercial break, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the blond Republican cheerleader on the panel, commented that Joy had mentioned that she could see herself possibly supporting one of the Republican candidates in the Presidential race. Behar clarfied that, while she probably wouldn't support him in the general election, she certainly endorsed his foreign policy perspective. Thus followed the conversation you can watch above.
Anyway, I think there is a great deal that's interesting and important to note about this segment and about what this shows about "The View":
- Keep in the mind that this nearly 10 minute conversation about American foreign policy occurred at 11 AM Eastern Time and its audience is predominantly female - a great portion of which consists of stay-at-home mothers. Anyone versed in poltical democraphics knows that stay-at-home mothers tend to vote more Republican than most female voters. I would venture to guess that such viewers are less likely to make time to view programs like Hardball with Chris Matthews or other daily political shows, let alone Sunday morning political shows. However, if you watch the graphics at the bottom of the screen, you will see that later in the program guests will include Ian Ziering of Beverly Hill 90210 fame and his dance partner Cheryl Burke from Dancing with the Stars. Many of the people tuning into "The View" want to hear the latest gossip about Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and other celebrities but happen to get along with such gossip and fluffy talk debates like the one you just viewed.
- To a pretty good degree, the panelists did a better job than other supposedly better informed political commentators at clarifying what Ron Paul intended to say in his debate comments. Hasselbeck tried to again pass on the misinterpretation Republicans have tried to disemminate about Paul's views and Rosie and Joy immediate shot her down and tried to make clear what Paul was trying to say.
- Later the same day this aired, Chris Matthews mischaracterized Rosie's comments about how Iraqis - who have lost 100,000s of their countrymen - must perceive America. The way I understood Rosie's inartful attempt at trying to empathize with the Iraq people is that any foreigners who come into anyone's native country and helps lead to the death of their fellow countrymen are often perceived not only as occupiers but perhaps as Hasselbeck labels people, "terrorists." At no time did Rosie call American soldiers terrorists, but rather if one were to use Hasselbeck's framing, Americans would probably be viewed as "terrorists" by the Iraqis. Chris Matthews took just a portion of the conversation and stated that O'Donnell called American troops terrorists, which I do not believe she did. While Rosie indeed has one or two of what I consider some outlandish conspiracy theories, esp. considering what happened on 9/11, I find I agree with 95% of what she states. However, rightwingers and even occasional demogogues like Matthews will use those few outlandish beliefs on Rosie's part to paint her as a whackjob, which she most certainly is not. If anything, she has very conservative beliefs about how to bring up and guard children. She can be a real prude. Nevertheless, her lesbianism, weight, impulsiveness, and politically liberal positions has made her the target of what I believe are gross mischaracterizations. She has in fact been a huge plus in the advancement of how America sees gay and lesbian families and the need for protection under the law.
- Notice the audience reaction when Joy Behar articulates Ron Paul's positions, especially when she reasserts the need for us to consider the consequences of our actions overseas and how the U.S. would react if China were to do what we did in Iraq, which is essentially establish military outposts in and around our terriortory. The audience understands and agrees with Paul's argument - especially that terroists hate Americans not because of our freedom but because of our policies - and claps loudly. Most of these people probably did not watch the Republican debate and had not heard the argument Paul put forth. Only because of this program are they exposed to such ideas.
For the above reasons, I believe "The View" is far more influential on the voting public than say Hardball, Meet the Press, and other typically political programs. I would assert that most people who tune into a Hardball or Meet the Press already bring rather well developed political views and are rarely persuaded by the arguments they hear. "The View" probably has the less politically formed mindsets tuning in and are more likely than not to be influenced by what they hear. Perhaps the only two programs more politically influential are The Daily Show and The Colbert Report because of the influence they have on young college age voters. However, I would argue "The View" has far more influence on a non-political audience.
Of course I expect to hear snide, condescending, even sexist comments from many here at DailyKos concerning this topic. "The View" is far too low-brow for certain Kossacks. Nevertheless, I'm proud to include among those who are fans of the program James Wolcott, the culture critic from Vanity Fair. You can read some of his takes on Rosie and the show here, here, and here. (Perhaps Wolcott's approval will make some pause before they denounce the show in a typically knee-jerk fashion.)
I TiVO "The View" everyday just to watch the first 20 minutes of the program when Hot Topics are debated because I want to see people who are less than political junkies are registering what is going on in this country. Even after the Hot Topics portion they will have guests like Hillary Clinton and Bill Maher or they will engage their celebrity guests in political conversations. I would gently urge others to tune in occasionally, just to get outside the echo chamber that are the political blogs and political chat shows.