6.09.2009

Stuart Rothenberg Slams Cable News, Quits Hardball

This really goes hand in hand with what Media Matters & Jon Stewart are saying about cable news in General.

Despite the fact the Rothenberg came to his sudden epiphany about MSNBC after years of ignoring even worse from Fox "news," he's right about cable news in general. I recently stopped watching MSNBC during the day because they continue to place racist, xenophobic, homophobic, Pat KKK Buchanan front and center and now, suddenly, they find little Dick Cheney is a great guest.

Yet, I smell complete and utter hypocrisy in Rothenberg's sudden realizations.

From News Corpse (via DKos):

Stuart Rothenberg is the very model of a modern major political pundit. He has his own newsletter and contributes to Roll Call, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and is a regular commentator on television news programs. He has a reputation as an astute analyst. Which makes me wonder why it took him so long to come to this realization:

America's cable 'news' networks have concluded — on the basis of considerable research and evidence, I'm sure — that most viewers don't want straight news and analysis as much as they want to hear what they already think or to watch predictable partisan attacks.

The three big cable 'news' networks don’t exist to provide a public service, after all. They have corporate officers and stockholders to answer to, which means they need more and more eyeballs to generate more advertising dollars.

Their answer: talk radio on TV. Forget about the serious implications and political fallout that follow an event or policy, and instead attack your opponents repeatedly using half-truths, glittering generalities and inapplicable analogies.

While Rothenberg comes down pretty hard on Hardball, he says that Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ed Schultz, are even worse. To his credit, he attempts to seek some balance by making a couple of obvious, yet still notable (for a mainstream pundit) comments about the Fox News all-stars, including...

"O'Reilly’s obsession with General Electric and that company's CEO is bizarre, though any program that treats Dick Morris seriously as an independent analyst obviously has major problems."

[snip]

Rothenberg's observation that the media has abandoned public service in favor of profit is irrefutable, but hardly a revelation. And while he describes the corporate response to conditions in the marketplace (talk radio on TV), he doesn't bother to offer any suggestions for reversing the trend and restoring a commitment to quality and public service in cable studios and newsrooms. He seems to lack the courage to declare that it is the iron grip of the monolithic media conglomerates that is responsible for the greed-driven state of today's news providers.

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