Will people on TV start making more sense?

Ezra Klein has a neat argument:

…the incentives are changing.  Assume that the incentive for going on television is to raise your profile (which is about 75 percent correct).  If I went on television five years ago, a large part of my incentive would be to make the host like me.  After all, these appearances pass in an instant, and most of you would never see the program.  So if I want to reach the maximum number of people with my arguments and do the most to increase my visibility, I want to keep coming back.

Now, however, with YouTube and GoogleVideo and online archiving, a single, contentious appearance can be seen on the internet a million times.  Everyone, after all, has seen Stewart berate Tucker Carlson on Crossfire, but very few of us had actually tuned in that day.  Similarly, my segment on the Kudlow show, replayed on the internet a few thousand times, did much more for my reputation among the audience relevant to my success than have my more friendly, but bland, appearances on other shows.

Making sense often requires you to be disruptive, and not long ago, being disruptive was probably a bad idea.  Now it’s a good one.  And since the channels are wising up and putting their videos online with advertising before them, they also want widespread online dissemination of appearances, and so their incentives are increasingly aligned with mine.  Does this mean more folks will be making sense?  Not necessarily.  But it means there might be more room for sense-making.

Or is Ezra just being deliberately disruptive to get links?  How will TV hosts respond to maintain equilibrium?  Invite fewer uncontrolled guests?  Invite fewer guests period?  Or will contestability force hosts to invite more disruptive guests?


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