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Monday, August 23, 2010

Griper Blade: When Did Cable News Become a 24/7 Shouting Match?

I ended out last week with a complaint about the media. One of the big stories of the week was that about 1 in 5 think that President Obama's a Muslim. Of that 18%, 60% said they got that "information" from the media. In response to the polling, media pundits concluded it was Obama's fault -- not theirs -- that so many held this misconception. He has to go to church more -- never mind that the only time George W. Bush saw the inside of a church was for a wedding or a funeral. No one ever called him a Muslim, did they? As they so often do, the press ignored a fact that didn't fit their pre-written narrative.

But that was only part of my argument. I also worried that cable news is a mix of opinion and news, with the proportion of opinion growing radically. TV news "analysts" don't analyze at all, they offer speculate, and this blurs the line between fact and opinion. When you have to have two or more partisans chime in, the purpose should be to interview, not "analyze." They should be used to illustrate what both sides of an argument believe and no more. When they start throwing out straw men, spin, and propaganda, the anchor should step on them. That's not news, that's useless information.

I came across an example of the problem yesterday with a clip from PBS Newshour. The issue: the Cordoba House Islamic community center in Manhattan. The people: anchor Gwen Ifill, New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio, and the Muslim and Democratic mayor of Teaneck, NJ, Mohammed Hameeduddin. The problem: the whole thing turned into a cable news-style free-for-all...[CLICK TO READ FULL POST]

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