media criticism criticized

I’m not sure I agree with this paragraph in its entirety:

The reaction to Maddow’s show highlights just how suffocatingly narrow, and right-wing, the spectrum of mainstream political discourse in America is. Hiring Michael Savage, Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson to host their own shows didn’t jeopardize NBC’s news brand, just as giving Glenn Beck — Glenn Beck — his own show didn’t jeopardize CNN’s. Most mainstream political and media figures even continue to insist that Fox is a legitimate news organization because Brit Hume confines his overt right-wing talking points to the Sunday show. But the presence of a liberal on MSNBC instantaneously destroys traditional principles of Journalism.

It may be true that mainstream journalists and media critics troubled by the appearance of Rachel Maddow’s new show are not similarly troubled by the already-existence of conservative shows, but I, personally, found myself much more skeptical of CNN after the Headline News channel’s evening programming – which I used to rely on daily for a quick 30 to 60 minute filtering of “major” stories – was turned into Nancy Grace, Glenn Beck, and Showbiz Tonight. Maybe I’m alone in having had that response. This is not to say that I no longer trust at all “the most trusted name in news” – just that while I don’t really approach their news reporting much differently than I did before, I’m much less likely to trust CNN’s analysis of the news. (Also, it’s been at least a year since I watched even one thirty minute stretch of Headline News – not even during the daytime programming that still resembles the old network.)

Meanwhile, I’m more troubled by things like this:

Having a prime-time lineup that tilts ever more demonstrably to the left could be risky for General Electric, MSNBC’s parent company, which is subject to legislation and regulation far afield of the cable landscape. Officials at MSNBC emphasize that they never set out to create a liberal version of Fox News.

That blockquote is actually from a story published last November in the New York Times, when Olbermann’s increasing ratings were making news and there was talk of Rosie O’Donnell hosting a show. Is there a benign interpretation of the mention of legislation and regulation in that context? It reads a lot like a tacit acceptance of the government’s ability to censor, or at least retaliate against, the expression of particular political views.


  1. Isn’t Glennzilla being saracastic there? It’s that Beck etc. didn’t destroy CNN’s news brand for the people who are now wringing their hands about Maddow. From their point of view folks like you don’t count.

    I agree about the last paragraph.

  2. You’re right, and I thought I wrote that I think he says what you’re saying he says (“it may be true…”); I wasn’t expressing my (slight) disagreement well. Even with the sarcasm, I read him as less concerned than I am that the hiring of a talk show host (of whatever perspective) could damage a network news organization’s credibility.* I rarely watch the talk shows, so maybe I’m already more inclined to find them of questionable informational value. To the extent that they dominate cable news, of course I’m glad to see more liberal views finally represented better.

    *I don’t think Maddow is such a host, btw. And I think this can go both ways.

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