Ask a dozen people who they think are the most powerful families in the US today, and you’ll get a short list of answers. All of them will, almost certainly, be wrong.
The Bush family would probably be mentioned most often in response to your informal poll – after all, they can seat a President, an ex-President and a Governor at the table for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s a tough trifecta to beat.
The Clintons can do pretty well on holidays with a Senator and an ex-President to claim. The Kennedys also have an impressive collection of resumes at their family reunions, especially if Maria brings Arnold with her.
But no clan comes close to wielding direct power over the social fabric of American life as The Nielsen Families do, those carefully chosen anonymous few whose television viewing habits are electronically measured. The economic impact of television is in the hundreds of billions of dollars, yet the industry depends entirely on myste…