2011-07-07 / View From the Middle

What A Relief! I’m No Longer Hooked On Cable TV News

View From The = Middle
By Charles Rogers

When was the last time you sat down with your evening dinner (or slightly before or after), turned on the TV set and watched the latest national news on CABLE? I mean CNN or Fox or MSNBC?

It’s been quite a few months since I’ve watched those relatively soft hitting so-called news channels, especially since I want to be kept advised of just what’s happening in the world from a less-than biased standpoint.

Huh? (Did he say “less-than biased” and “noncable” in the same breath?)

Recent published reports indicate television news viewers are back to watching the three broadcast networks for their daily taste of real journalistic journalism on a more-or-less regular basis lately. Yeah. Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer and now Scott Pelley (replacing Katie Couric) are back to being our (my) link to the rest of the world, its foibles, fumbles and disasters.

And, with all due respect to those cable journalists and pseudo-journalists who, just because they have their own left-or-right-leaning talk show on the radio and think that it is the be-all of historic achievement, I’m especially glad to lend an ear to Brian & Diane & Scotty where I feel more comfortable gobbling up the portion of the day’s events that interest me — and, I’m sure, others. It’s been a long time, really. Oh, I admit I continue to watch those cable people, but not regularly any more. There was a time when it looked like CNN was going to leap ahead of the bunch in comprehensive coverage of major incidents worldwide, with their coverage of the Iraq war being pretty spectacular, but then it seemed the public became a little tired of the same old stuff. Sure, some were (are) accurate journalists who know what they’re doing but, just like the fickle public turns viciously on a sitcom after it has been on for awhile, their ratings waned. Also, journalistic acumen notwithstanding, they seemed to begin taking sides — maybe more than they should have. Same thing for Fox and MSNBC, except they’re antagonists on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

So what does a hungry news hound do? I really don’t mind folding a copy of the Times or even The Post under my arm just so I can go home and get a wide view from both sides of a subject, always considering the source, of course. Frankly, though, at least I know what I’m getting when I read those biased accounts of political or just general news stories.

If you’re looking for sensationalism, all you have to do is glance at The Post’s front page and, although you may be turning red with embarrassment, it’s right there before you. Take, for example, their outright raunchy depictions of the Anthony Weiner fiasco, reminiscent of any tome authored by Larry Flynt. The Times? Well, they’re so full of themselves that it’s hard to discern whether they’re writing for reportorial purposes or just to hear themselves talk (or see their own editorials). Some’s good; some’s bad, but it’s not too hard to get sick of that, either.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not so naïve as to think the broadcast media don’t slant things to their frame of mind, but their business is to be objective. That is one of the first principles they should follow. Some purposely don’t stick to it, though, and that’s alarming.

But I can still say welcome back to Brian and Diane and Scotty! I missed their generally comprehensive, non-partisan (yeah, that’s the word!), nonbiased brand of gathering and disseminating all the hard news that has been hitting the world within the past few months, from earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan to wildfires in Los Alamos and floods in Missouri.

We’ve had our fill of it, of course, but we’ve been shown those graphic pictures and we’ve been told with effusion and, yes, empathy about the effect of historic events on the human condition, American and otherwise.

We must be thankful we have a choice as to where and how we get our information, At the same time, we should be grateful our forefathers had the wisdom to write the First Amendment allowing us to have those choices.

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