Opinions and Rants #34: News Channels and How Awful They Are
What the hell happened? Headline News is now nothing but a snarling Nancy Grace. Fox News is basically a Republican megaphone. CNN does absolutely no journalism; it specializes in senseless conjecture and witless talking heads. MSNBC is just more talking heads trying desperately to counter Fox, and failing miserably. If they were at least failing flamboyantly a la Keith Oberman, things might get interesting.
Sure, you dig deep enough, watch long enough, you're bound to come across some kernels of real investigative hard hitting reporting that doesn't insult the viewer's intelligence.... right? Don't answer.
How did we go from Cronkite to Glenn Beck at a chalkboard? Say what you will about Cronkite's political views, it was still "just the facts" with very little in the way of gimmicks and sensationalism.
I remember when talking heads were found on Sunday mornings via shows like Meet the Press, Firing Line and The McGlaughlin Group. I seem to recall Crossfire with Pat Buchanan and Michael Kinsley being somewhat of a "new thing" by having the left and right battling it out. No one emerges from the conflict enlightened and changed. Instead, year after year, left and right fight it out, with no one EVER conceding that they were wrong. Never. It's just a battle of wills. Not news.
I try to give these channels the benefit of the doubt, but I keep walking away disappointed. Today, television news is just an unholy amalgamation of Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, Glenn Beck, Jon Stewart, Bill O'Reilly, Nancy Grace and other non-journalists. And given the financial difficulties some of these networks are experiencing, it is evident that people are not tuning in any more (except Fox, of course).
This is not a good thing IMHO. As people turn away from the boob tube, they either become completely removed from world events or they flock to blogs which compliment their views rather than challenge them. Instead, a staunch conservative is NEVER going to hear a counterpoint or an unbiased report (likewise for the liberal). The division between the two will widen as both sides migrate to blogs of similar perspectives instead of meeting collectively together each night in front of the TV.
No. You can keep your niche news blogs and Glenn Beck for an hour at a f***ing chalkboard. Give me Cronkite, Chancellor and Huntley-Brinkley for 15 minutes each evening and I'll be happy.