What does “middle of the road” mean in today’s mainstream media? Are we still stuck in the 1980’s and early 1990’s time warp when it was okay for the mainstream media to openly bash conservatives and Republicans while fawning over liberals and Democrats? Is it still okay for a news organization to call a sitting President of the United States “stupid” on an on-screen graphic because they fundamentally disagree with his economic policies? The New York Times printed an interesting story on this subject just the other day.
And in their article they made the following suggestion:
Since the beginning of March, CNN has fallen behind both the longtime ratings leader, Fox News Channel, which, as the voice of disaffected conservatives, again has an imposing lead, and the upstart MSNBC, which has tried to mirror Fox’s success by steering to the left.
CNN has even dipped behind its sister network HLN (formerly Headline News) on many occasions. Since the beginning of 2009, CNN has finished fourth in prime time among the cable news networks on 35 out of 84 weeknights.
The development raises an obvious question: With its rivals stoking prime time with high-octane political opinion and rant, can CNN compete effectively with a formula of news delivered more or less straight?
Alright, there are a couple of things here that need to be addressed and I’m annoyed that they need to be addressed because I’d prefer to comment on the actual article’s content, not the worldview of The New York Times. First of all, FOX News is not in the lead because it is the voice of disaffected conservatives (in fact, most studies show that more than half of their viewership consists of independent and democratic voters). It is in the lead for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which is that they’ve managed to successfully marry entertainment and news as well as entertainment and commentary.
No one can watch Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, or Greta Van Susteren and suggest that they are not in the midst of some type of performance. O’Reilly has the American Culture quiz, for Pete’s sake! Hannity has the Great American Panel which introduces an X-Factor (usually an entertainer) into the show plus he’s got that Liberal Translator thing which is clearly a form of entertainment. And Van Susteren is constantly jumping out of planes or throwing out first pitches, plus she’s put together two new segments at the end of her show called “Best of the Rest” and “Last Call” to get people staying tuned. And I’m fine with all of this stuff because these shows are commentary and should show some personality. Nothing wrong with that on FOX or any other cable news channel.
My next problem with the view presented by The New York Times is the idea that MSNBC is an upstart company. Are you kidding me? They were a failed cable news outlet before FOX News was even an idea! The biggest problem on MSNBC right now is the unchecked hatred that they allow to spew on their airwaves, not that they have competition from CNN or FOX News. The difference between CNN and FOX News and the folks over at MSNBC is that they allow completely absurd statements to be made without a strong counterpoint. You absolutely will not find that on O’Reilly’s FOX News show, political leanings aside.
The other problem at MSNBC is talent. Who the hell wants to watch Keith Olberman? The man is a failed ESPN broadcaster and MSNBC gives him his own show? What’s next? The Money Hour with Bernie Madoff? Give me a break.
And the problem with CNN is that they cannot fathom that their opinions are anything other than 100% correct and middle of the road. Look, CNN leans left; not hard-left or hateful like MSNBC, but they do lean left. And the thing is – they don’t get it. For example, I posted a few days ago about that crazy woman reporter from CNN that attended one of the tea parties and was so self-centered that she claimed the tea parties were anti-CNN! Ha! Can you imagine that?!
I’ve seen FOX News reporters go into rallies that truly WERE anti-FOX News and present a set of fair questions to the protesters. Maybe the best thing for CNN, MSNBC, and even The New York Times to do is sit down and actually watch a few hours of FOX News for a change.
Update: The real, straight shooting numbers on who is really winning (“hammering the competition” is more like it) in the ratings war are available at NewsMax.com.