Bloomberg’s withdrawal proves only one thing: The death of TV as a media power

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg waves to supporters as he arrives to his campaign rally at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

Do not think for one minute that Michael Bloomberg’s withdrawal from the presidential race means that elections cannot be bought. The pundits on CNN or any other television news channel might be trying to suggest this, but that’s only because they need to keep something else secret.

Indeed, elections in the US can and are still being bought. They just can no longer be bought via television advertising. TV is dead, and of course, the pundits who earn their money flapping their gums on television don’t want advertisers to know this.

Again, McLuhan remains the most relevant media commentator of our times. The medium is the message. When the power of one medium dries up the its messages are no longer able to win friends or influence people.

Hillary learned in 2016 what Bloomberg has just paid a hell of a lot of money to learn in 2020. You can’t use TV tactics to win on social media; and to win elections you need to win on social media.

One of the major reasons the Democrats lost to Trump in 2016, is that they did not realize what Trump realized: the power of television is not what it once was. Like the mental faculties of Joe Biden – the power of television is decreasing on a daily basis.

In 2016, a pre-ballot New York Times headline declared ” Clinton’s campaign is made for TV; Trump’s is made for Twitter.” We all know how 2016 turned out.

Since 2016, social media, and thus the smartphone has only left television further in the dust. Video killed the radio star, and we are witnessing the protracted murder of television in this age. Though not one television journalist is pointing this out.

Let’s look at Massachusetts: Joe Biden, who won that state, spent $11 000 there; Bloomberg dropped a cool $12 million. Sure we’ll take your money, the TV networks said. Sure we’ll get our talking heads to talk about you disproportionately, sure.

Hillary learned this in 2016; Bloomberg has just paid a hell of a lot of money to learn it in in 2020. You can’t use TV tactics to win on social media; and to win elections you need to win on social media.

It didn’t matter, because television no longer really matters as an influencer.

Don’t get me wrong, Bloomberg did try to buy social media as well. He had some bot going that contacted everyone who commented, either positively or negatively, on all the stories related to him. It was so obviously a bot, so totally the wrong approach. And all it established was that it’s much more difficult to effectively buy one’s way into a smartphone than it is to buy an ad on television.

The medium IS and always will be the message. Just as McLuhan pointed out ‘radio charisma’ is different from ‘TV charisma’; social media charisma is yet a different kettle of fish. It’s a different algorithm.

Hillary learned this in 2016; Bloomberg has just paid a hell of a lot of money to learn it in in 2020. You can’t use TV tactics to win on social media; and to win elections you need to win on social media.

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