Some of the biggest names in the cable industry are spending a few days in Washington, D.C. this week for the NCTA's Cable Show. For the last 50+ years, cable television has lead the information and entertainment industry in infrastructure and innovation…but in recent years, this industry has had to adapt to the new leader in innovation: the internet. The 2013 Cable Show, focused on integrating the 'new media' — digital entertainment innovation in the internet ecosystem.
TheBlaze has been ahead of the curve on this transition — starting online to empower our subscribers and just recently beginning to spread into the world of cable television. Tuesday afternoon in the nation's capitol, some of the most prominent names in conservative politics weighted in on the impact and power of the so-called 'new media' at TheBlaze's Cable Show reception and conversation about “News and Politics in a Multi-platform World” hosted by Glenn and TheBlaze with discussions lead by Mary Matalin.
TheBlaze's President of Business Development, Lynne Costantini, opened up the program by highlighting the amazing opportunity TheBlaze has to tap into an audience that is searching for a channel that represents their values. Before handing the mic over to Glenn, Lynne reminded attendees that there are 94 million libertarian and conservative Americans looking for more than just one option for news and information.
"I remember the when we first got cable television in our home," Glenn stated. "It was in the late 1970s and it was a time when the world was changing."
Glenn recalled all of the 'firsts' that came with cable television, and pointed out that we find ourselves in the position of experiencing new things and new technology every day now. Innovation is moving faster than ever before, he noted.
"The game is about to change — and it's about to change on every level."
Glenn noted that there are the people that see the future and the change coming and realize the implications: it could go horribly wrong or it could be amazing. Take the NSA for example…amazing technology that's monitoring law abiding Americans like criminals.
"There will be the people who embrace and create the changes," Glenn said noting Steve Jobs as an excellent example. "And the power grabbers. The ones who are too afraid they'll fail and do whatever they can to hold onto power."
"We [TheBlaze] are the change," Glenn said. "I've worked at CNN, I've worked at Fox — they're both great places to work. They both have a great product," Glenn added. "But there is a change coming. We have to bridge the gap."
"There is something to be said for the communal experience," Glenn continued. "The only thing that unites us now is the Superbowl. How can we go into the cable system and bridge that with technology."
"We're doing it in a way that's never been done before."
Glenn explained that TheBlaze isn't just a growing news and information network, it's a culture…a lifestyle.
"We find the people that are like-minded and want to live their lives in a certain way," he said. "Our audience is difference and we recognize that. Where everyone else is designing for the buck, we don't take a dollar if it's not right for them. I want a lifetime relationship. Find out who the audience is and connect of that."
"Our philosophy is not about politics. Politics are a waste…" Glenn said before apologizing to the audience full of politicians…
"What made us great is not about looking up what we're supposed to do in the regulation book, it's maximum liberty and maximum personal responsibility. The 'give me a chance' attitude — that's all great leaders have asked for," he explained.
Sounds great, right? Pretty simple…but how do Glenn and TheBlaze make that work as a business model?
"We empower the people on the other end."
After Glenn finished speaking, he passed the mic off to Mary Matalin who lead one-on-one discussions with Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. Senator Rand Paul also made an appearance. Their discussions were centered around the evolving media and the impact it's having on empowering the average American, and in the case of the NSA leaks, possibly being used against them.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is a big proponent of new and social media — the tools that have empowered much of the voting base that got her elected.
"The best way to use it is to think of it as the network of you," she told Mary when describing how she uses new media to get a message out.
Blackburn often reminds her staff to think of tools like Twitter and Facebook not just as a way to spread a message, but a way to listen to her constituents and the American people.
"It allows people to keep their attention on the kind of content that interests them — what they want to receive — and from there, build their own network.
"We now have the ability to meet and communicate with people where they are by utilizing the tools that are right in front of us, right at our fingertips. They have option on how they receive information," she added.
Rep. Blackburn also noted the ability of social media to remove the filter between the audience and information — something Matalin pointed out isn't always a good thing, noting the importance of context.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, highlighted the impact social media has had directly on Washington, making note of several instances where Twitter has had the power to shift the conversation back to the truth. He was reminded to the vital role Twitter played in Senator Paul's 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floors regarding drones.
"I was very proud, nine months ago, to stand side-by-side with Rand Paul," Cruz stated. "Most of our colleagues in the Senate thought what Rand was doing was curious if not quixotic. He began speaking up and talking about the principle…what quickly happened was incredible."
Cruz explained how tens of thousands of Americans got online and started to support Rand in a filibuster, that when it first started, was only viewable online and on C-SPAN. When #StandWithRand started trending, Cruz became the first person in history to read tweets from the American people (or anyone else for that matter) on the Senate floor. The Texas Senator was reminded of one tweet in particular from a 78-year-old woman who had never used Twitter, but got online and signed up so she could publicly support with Senator Paul was doing and stand with him.
"The next day Obama was forced to explain the policy, and polling showed the American people had shifted 50 points in just days," he noted.
The explosion of new media has led to a "phenomenal democratization of information," Cruz added. "Anybody with a cell phone can be Dan Rather — hopefully with a greater propensity for truth."
Cruz also noted that with the recent leaks regarding the NSA and the IRS scandals, that the American people are quite justified in having real concerns and that now is the time to use the tools to put a stop to it.
During Senator Mike Lee's discussion with Mary Matalin and Glenn, he explained how the new media empowering more citizens to get engaged and speak out against an over-bearing government made him optimistic.
"I think our best days are ahead of us," Lee explained, "in part because we are being put in the position of having to resort to federalism.
He explained the unique pattern that the ability to personalize the news and information you receive is having on the monopolized news industry.
"We've had a lot of consolidation in media outlets that give us our news. That fortunately is starting to change. we've got more alternatives out there for people to listen to. When people can have access to the truth and that truth can be checked and cross-checked because of the availability of multiple sources of media, we can all get better answers," Lee noted.
Highlighting Glenn and TheBlaze specifically, Lee continued, "not everyone in the news business has the same attention to detail as Glenn Beck. The more Glenn Becks that are out there — and I hope there will be many one day — the greater the opportunity there will be for people to know the truth. The thing about the American people is they will make the right choice when they are given the opportunity."
Closely tied to the evolution of the media was another popular topic of yesterday's event: the recent leaks regarding the NSA and the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Senator Rand Paul focused heavily on this issue while speaking at the event.
…after a quick parody of Glenn's silent monologue of course…
Senator Paul told the crowd that he plans to take the issue regarding the NSA's surveillance of law-abiding citizens to court to put a stop to the abuse of power. Paul explained the importance of informing the people around us who operate in the digital space that their government is abusing its power.
While all of the guests who joined TheBlaze on Tuesday didn't share the same opinion on the leaks, they all believed what the NSA was doing, if true, was wrong and an abuse of power. They were also quick to highlight that the solution is YOU and your ability to exercise your freedom of speech with new media.
Marsha Blackburn noted that to really solve the problem, conservatives NEED to start whittling away at the size of the federal government.
"They have too much time and money on their hands," she said.
Senator Cruz also noted the answer to government overreach and its growing power is new media.
"The answer is new media and social media — speaking out and education our citizens on liberty."
Mary Matalin wrapped up the discussions by noting the reason Glenn's network model is so amazing: You.
"Glenn's audience understands the need for virtuous citizens," She explained.
She went on to say that this understand the need for there to be MORE virtuous citizens and they're actively involved in spreading that message and the message of TheBlaze. That's what makes TheBlaze different than any other network — you.