When opinion replaces TV news

Were he alive, Abraham Lincoln would not likely be a regular viewer of the major cable news stations. The former president is reported to have remarked that, “it is the man who does not want to express an opinion whose opinion I want.” Given that a great many of the programming slots offered up each day by cable news stations are forums for nothing more than the incessant and repetitive offering of opinions, it is unlikely Lincoln would be tuning very much to the opinions so eagerly offered up by those networks.

Students of and experts on journalism and broadcasting certainly will argue over the causes for the explosive growth of opinion programming on cable news stations. Opinion shows, which rely less on in-depth reporting in favor of scanning the day’s stories already reported for those most likely to generate “buzz,” are – perhaps aside from the salaries of their stars – cheaper to produce than hard-news shows. Whether financial concerns are the primary cause of this phenomenon, or simply the changing viewing habits of viewers, the bottom line is that so-called 24/7 news increasingly translates into “less news, more opinion.”

It is not simply the plethora of opinion programs that is raising concerns, but the style and conduct of those offering their opinions. As noted in a recent article by former CBS evening news anchor, Dan Rather – one of the far-right’s favorite punching bags – television news has been reduced largely to “opinion, commentary and marketing masquerading as news.” This has, in turn, says Rather, led to “more in-studio shouting matches between partisans, moderated by openly partisan talking heads.”

While many Republicans and conservatives will discount these observations by one of television’s longest-serving former news anchors, few could legitimately argue that such antics breed understanding. The more likely result is hardening of opinions already settled, while advancing neither understanding nor tolerance. This “ceaseless blowing of hot air,” so described in a recent op-ed eulogizing news anchor Walter Cronkite, has created what that writer termed an “infotainment nightmare.”

Perhaps nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in the programming schedule for CNN’s HLN (formerly, “Headline News”). For nearly half of each 24-hour news cycle, HLN bounces between “showbiz” stories, pulp crime reporting by Nancy Grace, and “Issues” with fast-talking newcomer Jane Velez-Mitchell. From 7 p.m. in the evening until 6 a.m. the next morning, HLN viewers have only those three options for their viewing pleasure; a line up interrupted only once, during the 4 to 5 a.m. hour, for “Prime News.”

The impact of these constant “opin-news” programs on traditional, non-cable network news has been profound – and negative. Since 1980, the year CNN launched as the country’s first all-news, all-the-time station, evening news viewership has fallen by well more than 50 percent and the ratings of the three network channels (ABC, CBS and NBC) have dropped even more precipitously – some 64 percent. Perhaps even more ominous for the networks is the fact that during that same period in which their ratings and viewership have dropped significantly the median age of its viewers has risen, to more than 61 years.

The fast-talking, high-volume pace of cable opinion shows may be having effect beyond the TV screen. Attendees at recent town halls, for example, and at other forums, mimic the sloganeering and rudeness so perfectly honed by cable commentators.

Solutions will be difficult to come by if we as a nation are to reclaim a focus on true news reporting that educates and enlightens; and which CNN promised 29 years ago. While many may not agree with Dan Rather’s call for a presidential commission “to assess the state of the news as an institution and an industry,” at least he is proposing a process of deliberation rather than entertainment.

96 comments Add your comment

arnold

August 17th, 2009
6:31 am

You left out Fox news. :-)

It doesn’t get much worse other than the equally biased MSNBC. I am from the older generation and would love to see the news limited back to the three major networks and PBS. I still only watch PBS Newshour.

The three networks provided a gateway for the news. The headlines were similar because they reported news, not biased nonsense. Many right wingers felt it was liberal, but I just don’t think that was true. The news was the news.

Willis

August 17th, 2009
6:52 am

Then don’t watch it. Why single out CNN – perhaps because you don’t like their “opinions” but like Fox “opinions” better?
Arnold wants to “see the news limited back to the three major networks and PBS.” Now that’s progress in this digital age.

It’s quite easy to change channels if you don’t like what you’re seeing and hearing.

J Pride

August 17th, 2009
6:52 am

Bob had me until the “nowhere is this more apparent than on CNN’s Headline News”. While I agree that all cable news is endless whining and opining, including CNN, there is nobody in the field that can compete with Fox “News”s steady stream of slant, propaganda and just outright lies to push the agenda of the extreme right (or just wingnuts in general). Liberals and moderates don’t watch CNN and I’m guessing most republicans find Fox’s blather more suited for the uninformed, uneducated and just plain loony.

bobfromacworth

August 17th, 2009
7:03 am

jpride, you are killing me! Fox is gaining viewers that are sick of (C)lintonista (N)ews (N)etwork as well as MS (N)othing (B)ut (C)ommunists. Fox had the conservatives and rightwingers from the beginning, but now are gaining share from the other cable news networks due to the FAR left slant of CNN and MSNBC. Have you ever watched Bill O’Reilly or Greta Van Sustern? If you had you would see that they bring on the opposing (far left) people all the time and discuss the issues rather than just smear the left like the other networks do the right. Try and watch FNC one night at 8:00pm and at 10:00pm, just Bill and Greta. Hannity is clearly loud on the right as is Glenn Beck, but try Bill and Greta. You will see what has caused the FNC to gain share.

Mara

August 17th, 2009
7:03 am

Arnold, this is Bob Barr we’re reading here. There’s no way in h*ll he’s gonna rip on the media arm of the RNC!

Though since he’s left The House and the Republicans he’s sort of lost that rabid “holier-than-thou” moral crusader-ism that infected so many ‘wingers in the ’90s. He’s been making much more sense and been far more persuasive as a Libertarian than he ever did as a Republican.

I’ve even found myself agreeing with him on certain issues…like this one.

Kenny

August 17th, 2009
7:06 am

Excellent column. What is the answer? I don’t think it can be changing the channel because it seems to be a pervasive “infotaintment nightmare.” I am a Democrat and do not watch Fox News but I also cannot stomach MSNBC. It’s all about political fortunes and the “horse race.” It rarely is anything more than filler. I don’t think Arnold is calling for censorship. I think he’s longing for the good ol’ days. I feel some of that too but there is no going back. The answer has to come from the people who run television and from the public. The news corporations and their managers need to think more about the country than their ratings. The public–I don’t see this happening–needs to demand change or just not watch. Otherwise I fear we will be polarized and angry forever. Kind of sad even heartbreaking. When I meet people on the street or at work or out with friends, politics is a non-starter. When we stay off the topic, it seems we acknowledge what we have in common, are decent to each other, eschew fear and appreciate differences in others. Good debate. Let’s avoid the rancor and the “gotchas.” Thanks.

Eddy

August 17th, 2009
7:07 am

CBS, NBC and ABC are just as bad as the cable channels. They just try to “package” their bias a little differently but nevertheless it is not factual news. The bias goes from insidious to overt. If they were reporting on a car wreck, the “so-called anchors” would find a way to take the facts and twist them in such a way that the bias comes through. ” A Ford and and Chevrolet collided at Main street and Broad street. The traffic light was malfunctioning due to the Republican administration’s budget cuts. The Republican driver was cited for failure to yield. No one was injured. The other driver, who recently lost his job due to the Republican budget cuts, was interviewed at the site and said that he was on his way to the homeless shelter to help serve the noon day meals and then was going to his son’s elementary school to read to his son’s second grade class.”

No bias here!!! Of course they could all be so dumb that they can’t recognize bias.

FreightTrain

August 17th, 2009
7:07 am

FOX is an absolute garbage dump. Their broadcasts are a training and breeding ground for the most intellectually challenged cretins among us. The only thing worse is talk radio. Who but the dumbest of the dumb can take anything that Rush Limbaugh or Lou Dobbs says for anything more than the hot air and bombastic ignorance that it is?

FreightTrain

August 17th, 2009
7:08 am

Eddy you have to package it dumb to attract the dumb and FOX has it down to a science.

Jim Callihan

August 17th, 2009
7:12 am

The problem is epic…and growing worse. Respected media critic and long-time consultant Danny Schechter NAILS IT in his (98 minute) documentary film “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (”free” on g00gl3 vid).

Mara

August 17th, 2009
7:14 am

Have you ever watched Bill O’Reilly or Greta Van Sustern? If you had you would see that they bring on the opposing (far left) people all the time and discuss the issues rather than just smear the left like the other networks do the right.

BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahaha!!!! Yeah. Bill “Rub Me With a Falafel” O’Reilly is the poster boy for sober, factual, and honest reporting.

http://vodpod.com/watch/723257-bill-oreilly-goes-crazy

oh…and whatever journalistic credibility Van Susteren may have once had was forfeit the minute she began shilling for St. Sarah of the Tundra.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

August 17th, 2009
7:15 am

Well, if it wasn’t for Fox News we wouldn’t have no news at all. It’s the only channel that uses “We Report, You Decide.” I watch it all the time and don’t see no bias. When they got all the people on there talking about how loony the libruls are they’re just reporting facts. It’s a fact Conservatives are right all the time and libruls are 100% wrong. That’s why us people in GA elect so many Republicans.

I like it when Fox News brings on about four Conservatives and one librul and they beat him up. It’s the way it should be if you’re going to be a Fair and Balanced station.

Have a good day everybody.

FreightTrain

August 17th, 2009
7:15 am

Yeah bobfromacworth and when the guest start pounding sand up O’Reilley’s azz he shouts them down as any well trained right wing ignoramus is prone to do. If you can;t baffle them with loony right talking points, just drown them out, huh bob?

Jim Callihan

August 17th, 2009
7:16 am

***CORRECTION*** (pardon “the freudian”) Danny’s film title is “Weapons of Mass Deception” (not “…Destruction”).

GT81

August 17th, 2009
7:21 am

bobfromacworth:

I perceive that you have never actually seen any true “FAR left slant” if you believe that’s what you are getting on CNN and MSNBC. You would be speechless if you really heard true far left loonies. You should get out of Acworth more.

bobfromacworth

August 17th, 2009
7:22 am

freighttrain can’t stand the “no spin” that Bill puts out. Bill won’t let you get away with long answers that don’t answer anything. I appreciate someone that asks the question 4 times and then tells that person why he is cutting them off. If you don’t want to be shut down, then answer the question simple and easy. Bill does the same thing to Karl Rove, Newt Gingrinch or any other right winger so stop yer whining freight man!

bobfromacworth

August 17th, 2009
7:24 am

gt81, just a name caller are ya? I get out plenty and have lived on the left coast so stop yer bickerin’

Mac

August 17th, 2009
7:24 am

I think Bob steered away from the obvious (Fox) in an effort to bring home the fact it’s not just one network that shovels this cr@p.

A. Real Paine

August 17th, 2009
7:26 am

Is it not clear by these comments that the “opinion” media has done it’s intended purpose quite well. By that I mean the continued division of “We The People” and the perpetuation of fighting amongst ourselves to distract us from the fact that both parties expand the power of Washington at the expense of individual freedom.

sharecropper

August 17th, 2009
7:41 am

Fox News is what Goebbels would have done had Hitler had cable television.

dgroy

August 17th, 2009
7:49 am

Folks, It’s all about money…..the more controversy they can create, the more people the network news programs think they can attract. True journalism is dead, dead, dead. Even the local news in Atlanta has become so bad I can’t watch it anymore. Thank you, Bob Barr, a Great American, for your honest opinion on this subject……it’s refreshing.

hop

August 17th, 2009
7:52 am

bob barr is about as objective as nancy pelosi. the reason cable especially fox has been growing is the mainstream media is no longer factual.

the bias on nbc,cbs and abc is beyond belief and why retractions are the common rule.

the libs can bash fox all they want including the turncoat bob barr,but their ratings have sky rocketed since this latest coverage of socialize healthcare .

the bias on the former big three in national news was a joke!

fox is gaining support from the idependents and liberals since the other media outlets are an obsolute joke!

Turd Ferguson

August 17th, 2009
7:53 am

Why would anyone watch that miserable little exhibitionistic troll, Katy Couric. *PUKE*

mike

August 17th, 2009
8:00 am

I am fascinated to see people calling out Fox News but neglecting MSNBC and frankly ABC News as well. Personally, I find all news outlets to be biased. Maybe it is innate in us as human beings to be biased, no matter how hard we try. Or maybe it is in reaction to the bias some see in others (we have to do this to counter-balance the news). Whatever the reason, there is NO true news organization out there that does an in depth job of getting the facts and presenting them in a way people can understand.

Sad, as people will continue to make decisions based on sound bites and opinions rather than facts. And that only leads us all down a spiraling path of decline. Ah, well….I guess I’ll just root for humans instead of Americans.

Pat

August 17th, 2009
8:03 am

Bob, I couldn’t agree more – but you fail to mention WHY CNN, a once respected news source, sold out its news for talk. It was trying to compete with Fox – the masters of right wing disinformation. Failing to mention Fox in this article is a glaring oversight, a “tell” that shows your hand. You’re conservative, so that’s somewhat understandable, but it hurts your credibility. Still, you make excellent points.

This process happened with radio first. Remember when you could find news on the radio? But advertisers weren’t impressed by the viewers delivered by straight unbiased news reporting. Ratings were soaring for Limbaugh, Boortz and Co., and everyone saw where the money was – so “news” became “News/Talk.” The label stuck, but in short time, all “news” went away.
The same bankrupting of content happened to the TV news networks when respected anchors were replaced by “spokesmodels” who read the news, just repeating talking points spoon-fed to them by partisans. There is no “liberal” TV media, save a few talking heads on MNBC. Nor is their even straight reporting. All the major networks are corporate news.

Reporting – sending reporters into the field to do real investigating to assess what’s ACTUALLY happening (as opposed to just repeating what partisans claim is happening) – costs money. Anyone who wants real information has to take on the burden of doing extensive reading and research – and not just researching their fave liberal or conservative blogs/websites, radio programs or magazines.
The American public just doesn’t have that kind of time or perseverance, not to mention intellectual curiosity. Everyone just consumes the “news” that confirms their preexisting prejudices – and we have the willfully ignorant population that proves it.

Tea

August 17th, 2009
8:03 am

Bob, the real story is not pop news but rather America’s high school drop out rate (30%-40% nationally). If America as a nation was as well-educated as say Germany or Japan, we might not be having this discussion. An uneducated population is easy prey for mass emotional manipulation.

clyde

August 17th, 2009
8:06 am

I get all my news from a variety of sources on the internet.I don’t watch any television and haven’t for years.Around the world newspapers and blogs are my source of news and I still realize that I don’t know what’s actually going on out there.Everything is slanted toward the reporter’s opinion on the issue.Almost no one today reports straight ,uopinionated news.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:16 am

Libs cannot debate issues unless the playing field is fixed their way. Their idea of debate is to to silence the opposition with thuggery and threats. But since most of them do not work, and have no financial clout whatsoever, they lose most debates. Health care is a prime example. They control the entire government, but the majority of US citizens want them to leave health care alone. other than putting people in concentration camps, health care will never pass. If they were working, mainstream citizens they would understand the flaws in their reasoning.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:18 am

“Bob, the real story is not pop news but rather America’s high school drop out rate (30%-40% nationally). If America as a nation was as well-educated as say Germany or Japan, we might not be having this discussion. An uneducated population is easy prey for mass emotional manipulation.”

Liberals have controlled education in this country for years.

jconservative

August 17th, 2009
8:18 am

Nice article Bob but about 20 years after the fact, so to speak.

I am conservative & listen & read a lot of conservative outlets. I also listen & read a lot of liberal outlets. I enjoy both. I cannot imagine anything more boring than listening to either conservative only or liberal only TV or print. People who do that must have a very low threshold of boredom. I have always believed your intellect needs to be challenged.

My favorite conservative writer is still Buckley (still have the copies stacked & read them almost daily). They never seem to get outdated.
My favorite newspaper columnist is Cynthia Tucker (I love her ideas). My favorite TV conservative is Joe Scarborough (every conservative needs to read his latest book). My favorite TV liberal is Chris Matthews (no one on the planet loves politics like this man).
For a straight up new program the Newshour on PBS has been the standard for 30 years.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:21 am

“Bob, I couldn’t agree more – but you fail to mention WHY CNN, a once respected news source, sold out its news for talk. It was trying to compete with Fox – the masters of right wing disinformation. Failing to mention Fox in this article is a glaring oversight, a “tell” that shows your hand. You’re conservative, so that’s somewhat understandable, but it hurts your credibility. Still, you make excellent points.

This process happened with radio first. Remember when you could find news on the radio? But advertisers weren’t impressed by the viewers delivered by straight unbiased news reporting. Ratings were soaring for Limbaugh, Boortz and Co., and everyone saw where the money was – so “news” became “News/Talk.” The label stuck, but in short time, all “news” went away.
The same bankrupting of content happened to the TV news networks when respected anchors were replaced by “spokesmodels” who read the news, just repeating talking points spoon-fed to them by partisans. There is no “liberal” TV media, save a few talking heads on MNBC. Nor is their even straight reporting. All the major networks are corporate news.

Reporting – sending reporters into the field to do real investigating to assess what’s ACTUALLY happening (as opposed to just repeating what partisans claim is happening) – costs money. Anyone who wants real information has to take on the burden of doing extensive reading and research – and not just researching their fave liberal or conservative blogs/websites, radio programs or magazines.
The American public just doesn’t have that kind of time or perseverance, not to mention intellectual curiosity. Everyone just consumes the “news” that confirms their preexisting prejudices – and we have the willfully ignorant population that proves it.”

See how the above lib wants to silence his perceived enemies? They have no rebuttal of substance, they just advocate silencing certain networks and shows they do not agree with. Much like Hitler did in Germany.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:24 am

“FOX is an absolute garbage dump. Their broadcasts are a training and breeding ground for the most intellectually challenged cretins among us. The only thing worse is talk radio. Who but the dumbest of the dumb can take anything that Rush Limbaugh or Lou Dobbs says for anything more than the hot air and bombastic ignorance that it is?”

See? Another lib that wishes he could silence the opposition. He (or it) gives no reason or anything to back up his statements. Just statements of broad personal hate against his perceived enemies.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:25 am

“Why would anyone watch that miserable little exhibitionistic troll, Katy Couric. *PUKE*”

No one does. She has had the lowest news ratings for years.

Corey

August 17th, 2009
8:27 am

If we do not do away with these blogs the world will begin to think that Americans are the most cynical and fearful people on the planet.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:30 am

“It’s quite easy to change channels if you don’t like what you’re seeing and hearing.”

People have, by the millions. That is why CNN and MSNBC is last in every time slot they compete.
here are some ratings from April, before the libiots tried to cram health care down everyone’s throat.

Cable News Ratings for Thursday, April 16

Posted on 17 April 2009 by Robert Seidman

Live + Same Day Cable News Daily Ratings for April 16, 2009

P2+ Total Day
FNC – 1,443,000 viewers
CNN – 725,000 viewers
MSNBC –441,000 viewers
CNBC – 234,000 viewers
HLN – 375,000 viewers

P2+ Prime Time
FNC – 3,226,000 viewers
CNN—1,161,000 viewers
MSNBC –1,014,000 viewers
CNBC – 186,000 viewers
HLN – 773,000 viewers

25-54 Total Day
FNC –384,000 viewers
CNN –212,000 viewers
MSNBC –125,000 viewers
CNBC –67,000 viewers
HLN- 176,000 viewers

25-54 Prime Time
FNC – 795,000 viewers
CNN –314,000 viewers
MSNBC –261,000 viewers
CNBC – 62,000 viewers
HLN – 316,000 viewers

35-64 Total Day
FNC –641,000 viewers
CNN –322,000 viewers
MSNBC –217,000 viewers
CNBC –114,000 viewers
HLN- 227,000 viewers

35-64 Prime Time
FNC –1,293,000 viewers
CNN – 452,000 viewers
MSNBC –467,000 viewers
CNBC –78,000 viewers
HLN –434,000 viewers

Morning programs (6:00AM-9:00AM) P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
FOX & Friends –1,098,000 viewers (370,000) (607,000)
American Morning- 529,000 viewers (186,000) (316,000)
Morning Joe-429,000 viewers (141,000) (242,000)
Squawk Box-217,000 viewers (69,000) (123,000)
Morning Express w/ Meade- 301,000 viewers (157,000) (185,000)

6PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Special Report w/Bret Baier – 1,866,000 viewers (367,000) (806,000)
Situation Room—873,000 viewers (185,000) (348,000)
Ed Show —496,000 viewers (102,000) (213,000)
Mad Money—241,000 viewers (a scratch with 53,000) (109,000)
Prime News—338,000 viewers (149,000) (208,000)

7PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Fox Report w/Shepard Smith– 1,979,000 viewers (423,000) (770,000)
Lou Dobbs –915,000 viewers (247,000) (413,000)
Hardball w/Chris Matthews– 662,000 viewers (199,000) (358,000)
Kudlow Report —219,000 viewers (a scratch with 47,000) (98,000)
Issues– 524,000 viewers (206,000) (319,000)

8PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
O’Reilly Factor —3,897,000 viewers (875,000) (1,462,000)
Campbell Brown—942,000 viewers (215,000) (349,000)
Countdown w/Keith Olbermann —1,229,000 viewers (329,000) (601,000)
CNBC Reports – 228,000 viewers (66,000) (98,000)
Nancy Grace –1,172,000 viewers (469,000) (641,000)

9 PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Hannity– 3,138,000 viewers (854,000) (1,291,000)
Larry King Live—1,260,000 viewers (320,000) (447,000)
Rachel Maddow Show —1,052,000 viewers (258,000) (482,000)
Swoosh! Inside Nike—220,000 viewers (86,000) (92,000)
Lou Dobbs Tonight- 488,000 viewers (186,000) (264,000)

10 PM P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
On the Record w/Greta—2,639,000 viewers (654,000) (1,123,000)
Anderson Cooper—1,277,000 viewers (406,000) (555,000)
Countdown w/Keith Olbermann —762,000 viewers (196,000) (318,000)
On the Money – a scratch w/ 109,000 viewers, (a scratch w/ 35,000) (a scratch with 43,000)
Nancy Grace –699,000 viewers (310,000) (428,000)

11 PM P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
O’Reilly Factor —1,957,000 viewers (550,000) (914,000)
Anderson Cooper—729,000 viewers (263,000) (381,000)
Rachel Maddow Show –453,000 viewers (119,000) (163,000)
Mad Money—140,000 viewers (59,000) (82,000)
Showbiz Tonight– 480,000 viewers (285,000) (310,000)

found here:http://tvbythenumbers.com/2009/04/17/cable-news-ratings-for-thursday-april-16/16968

Anyone see a trend? :)

Voice or Reason#1

August 17th, 2009
8:31 am

I used to like Greta when she was just doing legal stories. But her foray into political news/personalities–and especially her apparent love of airhead Sarah Palin–has SOOO turned me off from Greta. She seemed too smart to be caught up in that bubble. But, she did go to Fox, so…

I like news to be news, and I do like some talking heads, so I switch channels and watch all of them. But even I–a conservative Democrat–find MSNBC is ~like Fox news, just in the opposite direction. Tamron is gorgeous; I like Norah and Joe Scarborough, but Chris Matthews seems to be the most objective. Love him. I think CNN gives the most balanced, but Kyra Phillips giddy questions irritates the boo-boo out of me. Stop with the fake laughing all the time.

And BB, by leaving out Fox News in your article, you ruined your argument/showed your bias. Call them ALL out, including Faux News.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:35 am

“Fox News is what Goebbels would have done had Hitler had cable television.”

Me thinks poor lib wishes he could get fox off the air. Fairness Doctrine is what the widdle libs called it. The libs are attempting to take everything over jerk wad. They are the true nazi’s.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:38 am

“I am fascinated to see people calling out Fox News but neglecting MSNBC and frankly ABC News as well. Personally, I find all news outlets to be biased. Maybe it is innate in us as human beings to be biased, no matter how hard we try. Or maybe it is in reaction to the bias some see in others (we have to do this to counter-balance the news). Whatever the reason, there is NO true news organization out there that does an in depth job of getting the facts and presenting them in a way people can understand.

Sad, as people will continue to make decisions based on sound bites and opinions rather than facts. And that only leads us all down a spiraling path of decline. Ah, well….I guess I’ll just root for humans instead of Americans.”

ABC, or the All Barack Channel, is pretty much Rahm Emmanuel’s broadcasting arm. A few more pre-empts of their prime time schlock and Obozo will be bailing them out as well.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:46 am

“My favorite conservative writer is still Buckley (still have the copies stacked & read them almost daily).’

Great guy. He straightened Gore Vidal out when he called him a nazi. He had fought the nazi’s himself. The little queer lib shut up quick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYymnxoQnf8

ps stick to the forums to call conservatives nazi, or you mighy end up shaking in fear like the queer Vidal.

Elmore

August 17th, 2009
8:51 am

“preexisting prejudices” is redundant. :0)

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
8:52 am

Did I miss anything? Unlike you pathetic libs I have to go to work now to pay for all of the entitlements that allow you to sit on your azz all day.

O’Reilly’s rerun at 11PM still beats the lib network competition. Think about that all day libiots.

Goober

August 17th, 2009
9:10 am

After all these great posts, I’m still with Arnold. He’s not after censorship. It’s just that the more choices you have, the less truth you’re going to get. Sure, we have our favorite personalities and their eloquence and body language and quick wit, but somewhere down the line you are being manipulated so far from the truth you wouldn’t know it unless you witnessed it or helped draft it and see it notarized yourself. If you go too far, you’ve missed the destination; if you know too much, you know nothing. Ever dig a hole and run out of a place to put the dirt?

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
9:17 am

Strother Martin: “How did your dirt get in my hole?”

jconservative

August 17th, 2009
9:29 am

michael jackson’s corpse August 17th, 2009 8:30 am

Good info. But cable is still a minor player in the news game. The data indicate that about 4 million people total are tuned to the various cable news outlets in the 6 & 7 PM slots. In the same time periods the 3 broadcast networks have about 20 million total tuned their news shows. Cable has a ways to go.

What I do not comprehend is that 60 Minutes, after all these years, is still drawing over 10 million viewers every Sunday night. Amazing.

Saul Good

August 17th, 2009
9:30 am

It’s AMAZING that you left out the number rated propaganda machine FOX Unfair and Biased News. I guess they’re one of the few rags that actually has you on from time to time so you won’t bite the hand that feeds you (as if anyone out there today is really paying attention to what you have to say Bob).

[...] Bob Barr on the consequences of opinion-oriented TV news. [...]

Saul Good

August 17th, 2009
9:33 am

MJC,
Tell me about this “fairness doctrine” and name ONE SOURCE that has been closed down or filtered. More “scare tactics” again from the most fearful of all with no facts and no actual news sources eliminated. It’s the Talibangelical way to lie, is it not?

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
9:39 am

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
9:41 am

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
9:41 am

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
9:42 am

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
9:43 am

Spin it Saul, spin it.

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
9:47 am

The libs wanted the Doctrine re-instated in order to get all of their fantasy men on fox an Rush off the air. They failed. Then they came up with air america. It failed. Then Al Franken used voter fraud and false lawsuits to get into Congress.

You keeping up Saul?

michael jackson's corpse

August 17th, 2009
9:52 am

Gotta go work. Have your two daddies tell you about the fairness doctrine Saul. Later

Goober

August 17th, 2009
10:01 am

Michael Jackson’s corpse: I had a feeling there would be a failure to communicate. ;)

uh huh

August 17th, 2009
10:05 am

More Strother Martin! LOL

uh huh

August 17th, 2009
10:07 am

SpaceyG on Twitter

August 17th, 2009
10:17 am

Have you watched network news lately? No one has, because the audience is already comatose from the drugs advertised on the nightly news. And if they’re not in a Big Pharm stupor already, they will be after 2 minutes of network news content. It’s THAT old and dull.

Network news just can’t do the Internet age. I give ‘em another 2 years or so before they shut the whole dino down. We don’t seem to need another anchor-hero.

Matthew Cole

August 17th, 2009
10:22 am

Bob is absolutely on point here. I ran an independent newspaper back in college, and getting hard news was like panning for gold. Student writers were much more interested in writing opinion and commentary on national events already widely covered – since opinion requires only reflection, while hard news reporting requires actual work. Not that all commentary was bad – but valuable commentary requires actual work and research as well. It made sense, full time students who were business or engineering or pre-med majors didn’t have time to spend chasing down a story except occasionally.

Translate that time into money – and I think we’ve hit on the dilemma Bob identifies at CNN, HLN, FoxNews, and MSNBC. Every once in a while, the cable networks do real, actual, and in depth reporting. Fox News was the first to report on Hurricane Katrina, and predicted that it would be the worst ever. Haven’t seen much since then.

The unforgivable thing is that the sensational big stories are out there today – with a little digging and courage the big networks could find them. At least the students I worked with had the excuse that they were students – hard news reporting is supposed to be the cable news networks raison d’etre.

uh huh

August 17th, 2009
10:23 am

When the anchors got caught in their lies the country lost faith. I cringe when I come across rather on HDnet. Of course he lied from Vietnam onward.

booger

August 17th, 2009
10:24 am

Most of the news media, not just TV, has adopted the mission of not just reporting, but setting the agenda for this country. They, led by the New York Times, choose which issues are important, and fall into lock step. The decide who should be elected, and once again fall into step. And more incidious, lately they have decided who to destroy, and fall into step.

I agree that FOX is biased, but the only reason they exist was that someone saw a huge vaccum in the media world which they could fill.

Ga-Guy

August 17th, 2009
10:36 am

Well said, Mr. Barr. A column in this morning’s AJC by David Galloway also notes the need for civility in political discourse. He closes with this observation:

“With freedom of speech comes the obligation to listen. Else we are left with nothing but the freedom to make noise.”

SpaceyG on Twitter

August 17th, 2009
10:39 am

It’s not the audience. Look at the participation level here on this yet-another opinion piece! Blogs and open forums and discussion boards and Facebook, Twitter, etc., any interactive participatory tool really… are bee hives of engagement and activity. The broadcast product on a network has no interactive, participatory function. Their audience, other than me, is bed-ridden anyway.

Droves of people, millions, engage in “hard” news issues online and in a participatory fashion all day long, online. The fact that journalists and editors can’t make money off of it much anymore is really THEIR problem – hardly an engaged populace’s problem.

JF McNamara

August 17th, 2009
11:17 am

I agree whole heartedly with you on this Bob, but this is a country of free speech. The prospective news networks are going after viewers who want their viewpoint reinforced and self esteem constantly stroked. There’s nothing criminal about that as Rush Limbaugh has done it for as long as I can remember. Until people turn the channel, it’s going to continue.

While not mentioning Fox news is dubious, I think he mentioned HLN because they used to be 30 minutes repeats of all hard news. It’s a big shift.

Dan Ross

August 17th, 2009
11:33 am

Bob, Having met and talked with you several years ago, I find it very hard to believe that you could even hint that you may be for Dan Rather’s idea of the Fed Gov sticking it’s long nose into the news, etc. Don’t we have them in our lives way to much now? Also, why ‘not’ mention Fox cable news as a one that has doulbled it’s viewers while the others have lost theirs. Maybe they are doing something the others are not doing. Fox may seem right winged to some, but in my opinion, that is probaqbly because many of these people are leaning so far left that anything remotely being reported in the middle seems far right to them.
As you have often said, try and keep an open mind. Thanx Bob.

Dan Ross

August 17th, 2009
11:33 am

Enter your comments here

Coach

August 17th, 2009
11:40 am

bobfromacworth, the name says it all. Cherokee County, home of the closet klansman Chip Rogers. We do consider the source.

Mikelo

August 17th, 2009
11:43 am

I’ve always felt that TV news people and networks were less there in the mental department growing up. Things that I knew and took for granted every day were treated like it was this huge, mind-blowing thing. CNN in particular seemed to get less relevant as time went on.

I can remember the day when I lost complete respect for CNN: April 11, 1996, the day that preteen pilot Jessica Dubroff and her father died in a plane crash. For those who need a reminder, Jessica was the youngest pilot to attempt a transcontinental flight. The media went nuts over this, and when they weren’t prematurely sentencing OJ Simpson to the chair, CNN, Bobbi Batista in particular, were going nuts over this story. This was such a wonderful thing, so amazing, that this little girl was flying a plane. They had nothing but encouragement for her.

Then the tragedy happened, when the plane (being piloted by flight instructor, not Jessica) took off, hit a wind shear, and crashed outside of Cheyenne Wyoming moments after takeoff. Suddenly, the news had nothing good to say about the feat. It was irresponsible what the parents did and the flight instructor. I remember seeing Bobbi sitting there and literally crying on the air, screaming “Who’s responsible for this?! Who encouraged this? There should be an investigation! This should be illegal!” And on and on she went. Now this little girl was a victim of fame and yadda yadda yadda.

I’d always taken the news with a grain of salt. But after that, I’ve never been able to look at the TV news seriously again. I don’t watch the news. My SO’s mother calls the people there “news actors” and i think the descriptor fits. Personally, I find professional wrestling more reliable. At least there, they’re reporting on what you’re seeing.

When Fox News was launched, I took a gander at that, to see if they were any different, I found that they were worse. Especially when being promised “fair and balanced” and seeing whatever talking head saying “You shut up you stupid liberal! You just shut up!” I knew that the bottom had been reached.

There is always the Naked News…

Rabble rules

August 17th, 2009
12:07 pm

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
H. L. Mencken
US editor (1880 – 1956)

JF McNamara

August 17th, 2009
12:30 pm

Dan Ross said:

“Fox may seem right winged to some, but in my opinion, that is probaqbly because many of these people are leaning so far left that anything remotely being reported in the middle seems far right to them.”

This statement is a bold assumption/allegation since you probably don’t know anyone else posting. An observer might say, Its probably more logical that you’re just so far right leaning that Fox News seems centrist.

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 17th, 2009
12:33 pm

In Dan Rather’s quote, he failed to mention the role he played in all this (remember his stint in Afghanistan dressed in robes?).

For all practical purposes journalism is dead.

The only difference in Fox, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, or any others is which side they are slanting towards; otherwise they’re all playing the same game. If you didn’t catch on to this game when they started hawking books, t-shirts, and coffee mugs on their programs, you’re never going to see it.

jconservative

August 17th, 2009
1:13 pm

SpaceyG on Twitter …”Network news just can’t do the Internet age”

All cable combined has about 4 million viewers for the 6 to 8 PM news time slot. All broadcast combined has about 20 million viewers for the same news time slot. Just the news shows.

Just trying to keep the facts straight. I never watch broadcast news.
But their audience is huge & is where most folks get their news.

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 17th, 2009
1:22 pm

jconservative

Your point is well taken but isn’t the highest cable news viewership in the 8-9pm slot?

what?

August 17th, 2009
1:22 pm

If Dan Rather has a beef with new media, it should be that he fell into this trap himself. And that he doesn’t seem clear-headed enough to admit it.

I don’t like all the opining, but the alternative of shutting down cable news is unconstitutional. People have the right to opine and we have the right to listen or not. Commissions don’t need to be created unless we want to change the notion of free speech.

bobfromacworth

August 17th, 2009
1:42 pm

coach, you have shown your ignorance. I have lived in Acworth in three different counties, Paulding, Cobb, and Cherokee. So there neener, neener….. You must be from Fulton or Clayton, just by your response.

Marcy from the West Side

August 17th, 2009
1:54 pm

I am an American – Dems nor Reps have a hold on me. I never thought that I would agree with Sean Hannity on anything, but he is right on this point, “journalism is dead in America”!!

gabriel

August 17th, 2009
2:52 pm

Opinion passing as news has always been around. Remember “yellow journalism”? I think th with cable, talk radio, the internet make a more informed public. Why not just throw all the stuff out there and let the public sift through to find what the meat of any subject is. I refuse to accept something put out as “real news” from PBS, CBS or AP as anything but the opinion of the writer or news reader. Had it not been for the peeling back of Obama care and the ongoing questioning, criticizing , and yes theatrics of the alternative media , that pile of s— would now be law, without any debate. The Townhalls are noisy and rowdy because Congress and the Administration are arrogant and will not listen to the taxpayers who will have to fund this monster. As Rush has said for several months now ” the msm is nothing more than stenographers for Rahm Emanuel. ” The alternative media is now the only thing standing between our democratic republic and Marxism. Thank God for it.

LOLO

August 17th, 2009
2:53 pm

BBC World News America has less opinion infused in the news than all other American news networks

Saul Good

August 17th, 2009
3:31 pm

MJC,
You failed to answer my question… name ONE single person who has been taken off the air or muted because of this BS you go on about called the FD.

JF McNamara

August 17th, 2009
4:49 pm

gabriel,

The problem with opinion based news is that there is no code of ethics meaning that often times what is conveyed is simply a lie. When Lou Dobbs give credence to birthers, is that helpful? When Sarah Palin is constantly replayed discussing death panels, is that helpful?

I agree with you that it has the potential to be informative, but many people won’t take the time to research the actual facts behind the opinion based statements. They are misled by someone that they trust who has given them factually incorrect information.

If they were all truthful, holistic opinions, there wouldn’t be an issue. Instead, its just Democratic and Republican propaganda machines taking pieces of facts out of context and using them to sway their audiences.

HDB

August 17th, 2009
5:10 pm

The problem is that Americans color the truth with their politics….

Let’s look at what’s really going on: MSNBC and Fox counterbalance one another..but FOX is worst, for it panders to the racist/xenophobic fringe that controls the GOP. MSNBC, while unabashedly liberal, DOES look at some issues that FOX doesn’t desire to touch, for by doing so, it’ll put their political viewpoint into question.

CNN is the world wide distributor of American news….can’t always get FOX overseas….but you can always find CNN; therefore, CNN has to have a global..albeit liberal….viewpoint! Of the three cable outlets, CNN is the most moderate of the three!!

Network news is caught in a changing paradigm, having to compete with cable in a new news model….and is having trouble adapting.

What Americans DON’T do is to diversify their intake of the news to determine where the TRUTH really lies; not only should they view multiple American news outlets….but take in news from the WORLD view…BBC, Le Monde, London Daily Mirror, et. al. The more informed the electorate is, the better decisions the electorate can make!! Right now, Bill Maher MAY be right in saying that Americans ARE stupid……

LOLO

August 17th, 2009
5:36 pm

HDB just colored their analysis with their politics… way to be the anti-bias there!

coach

August 17th, 2009
6:49 pm

No bobfromacworth….E. Cobb. But thanks for making my point. The Fulton/Clayton remark gave you away. Going to a cross burning tonight bob?

boots

August 17th, 2009
7:04 pm

In the absence of intelligent discourse, scare the heck out of the ignorant. That’s what O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter and their ilk depend on.

Mikelo

August 17th, 2009
9:15 pm

I have to admit that I found it funny that Dan Rather was begging the government to help the dying news industry. I have a better idea: old media should adapt to what’s going on or just pass on.

Les Caldwell

August 18th, 2009
12:27 am

What’s the matter Bob? Are they ignoring you? There is a reason for that.

bobfromacworth

August 18th, 2009
6:31 am

Coach, everything is not about race. I know the left wants it to be, but the left has been far more racist this last election that the right ever hoped to be. Just continue down that road to nowhere and see where it takes you. No one is listening to you now that it is racial on your side of the political spectrum. So are you really afraid some rightwinger is going to burn a cross in your yard? That is so ’50’s coach….

lovelyliz

August 18th, 2009
9:47 am

Maybe it’s that calling out Fox as 24-hours of opinions is too obvious. At least I hope Bob Barr has some filter that tells him that.

Mrs. Norris

August 18th, 2009
9:54 am

The cable channels must make a profit. They give the people what they want. The masses must be told what to think. It’s all explained in “Idiocracy”.

Rita

August 18th, 2009
11:18 am

As H.L Mencken said, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” FOX Cable news has built a successful business model by elevating the loud, crass, poorly-educated and dim-witted to star status on their network. As evidenced by some of the entries above, FOX knows the “regular folks” are too lazy or stupid to think for themselves.

Boy Who Cried Wolf

August 18th, 2009
12:15 pm

Why is it the left has a hard time believing that ABC,CBS,NBC,CNBC,PBS,CNN swing strongly to the left,but don’t have any problem criticizing FOX,Limbaugh,&Hannity as being biased. News is stictly about the opinions of the editors, read to us by tool’s. If you want to find the total truth about just about anything you have to do your homework,you can’t rely on just one source.

Boy Who Cried Wolf

August 18th, 2009
12:34 pm

Rita: And as Dan Rather said when talking about his audience “A sucker is born every minute”, or was that P.T.Barnum? Either way it speaks volume’s of the easy manipulation of the “non” thinking,easy lead left. Case in pont your half-brained attempt above to pigeon hole the right to only FOX.

chris broe

August 18th, 2009
1:13 pm

If Lincoln were alive he wouldn’t watch cable……oh brother.

clyde

August 18th, 2009
5:23 pm

If Lincoln were alive he’d be old.Very old.

kaycee

August 18th, 2009
7:37 pm

Walter Cronkite, Douglas Edwards, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Harry Reasoner, John Cameron Swayze, Bernard Shaw,Max Robinson, Charlayne Hunter-Gault……….am I giving away my age???? How I miss “hard” news. I always thought that I was more than capable of developing my own opinion about current events. What passes for news now–CNN, Fox, MSNBC–is an aggravation. It’s all about them–the anchors. I don’t care about them. I care about the news.

Just shut up and report the news….

Mrs. Norris

August 19th, 2009
9:29 am

Wolf Boy,
I don’t think Rita’s comment was “half-brained” at all. I think it was well stated and she makes a very good point. By the way, it was P. T. Barnum that said that. Dan Rather would never say something like that. hsss