Evangelicals debate the meaning of less religious involvement and political conservatism among younger evangelicals compared to their elders. Barna pollsters dine out on the concern (or joy) that the difference represents real change. Others say that the young’uns will grow out of it, as their predecessors did, once marriage, mortgages, and munchkins give them a longer time frame.
Media magnates and cultural observers are asking similar questions about news preferences. The poles here are Comedy Central, which has a viewer median age of 29, and Fox News, with a median age of 65-plus for both its full day and its prime time shows. If 29-year-olds are still watching the equivalent of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show when they are 49, that’s trouble. I don’t think that will happen for a bunch of them, as hard experience leaves them sadder but wiser.
By the way, liberal networks still grab the middle-aged: NBC’s median is 48 years old, ABC’s 54, and CBS’s 57. Cable news tracks a little older: MSNBC’s median age for its prime-time shows is 61, and CNN’s is 60. Politicians and their handlers these days seem to fixate on the short-term, and TV’s rapid news cycle pushes them in that direction. The long-term TV story, though, is how networks affect voters’ attitudes day in and day out through a steady barrage of subtle propaganda. Conservatives’ speeches are still spitting into the wind of journalism and popular culture.