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Journalism's vacation from the truth
January 15, 2005 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Journalism's vacation from the truth One day after Tucker Carlson, the co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," made his farewell appearance and two days after the network's new president made the admirable announcement that he would soon kill the program altogether, a television news miracle occurred: even as it staggered through its last steps to the network guillotine, "Crossfire" came up with the worst show in its 23-year history
posted by Postroad (44 comments total)

 
What I think is funny is that anyone is even surprised.

This isn't journalism's "vacation from the truth." That implies that there was truth to begin with. When after a debate the biggest story was about the sexual orientation of Cheney's daughter, and not about any of the issues of any consequence that were discussed, I think that's saying something about US journalism.
posted by karlshea at 4:34 PM on January 15, 2005


Thanks, postroad. Glad to see Crossfire strangle on its own vomit.

Frank Rich, keep your power dry.
posted by Julie at 4:41 PM on January 15, 2005


Is anyone in the mainstream media even talking about this in the U.S? I stopped watching American news again after the election, so I'm genuinely curious (and not simply snarking).
posted by The God Complex at 4:41 PM on January 15, 2005


I loved this article--Apparently, Capital Gang (which is on as i type) is not long for this world either. Now, if only Novak would go to jail or get caught with payola a la Armstrong Williams, cable news would be a better place.
posted by amberglow at 4:43 PM on January 15, 2005


See the reason no one cares is because nobody gives a shit about Crossfire. If the show was doing well, they wouldn't be killing it.

And Begala, Novak and Carlson will all find new work. Puppet journalists will always find work pushing shit for someone.

The media sucks, that's why I don't pay much attention to the CBS, CNN, Fox or whoever's national news broadcasts anymore. I watch the local news and read the rest of it online.

But man, it is getting incredibly damned hard to not become bitter and cynical. I feel like a foreigner in my own country now.
posted by fenriq at 4:55 PM on January 15, 2005


Oh and, good post, Postroad.
posted by fenriq at 4:56 PM on January 15, 2005


Indeed. I wonder what's going to fill the insipid vacuum left by Crossfire's departure?
posted by FormlessOne at 4:58 PM on January 15, 2005


The vast majority of "journalists" on American television are anything but. I've always been a little confused as to why commentators deserve the title of journalist when all they do is spout propaganda for the causes they believe in. I'm not a big fan of opinion pieces, but if anyone knows of any commentators who know how to put a piece together where the facts speak for themselves, let me know.

TGC- I too refrain from watching American news and I adore the CBC when I can get it down here in the deep south. Also, the International Herald Tribune is a fantastic paper that has kept me warm on many a cold European morning.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 4:58 PM on January 15, 2005


This isn't journalism's "vacation from the truth." That implies that there was truth to begin with.

Exactly. I imagine people watch shows like Crossfire for the same reason they slow down when passing a traffic accident.
posted by 327.ca at 4:59 PM on January 15, 2005


From the article pointed to: Cheney criticized the press for its coverage of Halliburton and denounced "cheap shot journalism" in which "the press portray themselves as objective observers of the passing scene, when they obviously are not objective."

Well, he's right about that. Too bad that the beneficiaries of their non-objectivity are Cheney and his buddies.

So anyway, after years of stories about such "stories" being exposed one after another, will somebody please expain to me again why I should trust The Media and political pundits from (corporate-funded right-wing Beltway-insider) "think tanks"?
posted by davy at 5:02 PM on January 15, 2005


I wonder what's going to fill the insipid vacuum left by Crossfire's departure

Lukewarm spit. Think of it as an upgrade.
posted by trondant at 5:10 PM on January 15, 2005


> Oh and, good post, Postroad.

Legitimate question - what makes this a good post, other than AgendaFilter? It's a single-link news post. If the agenda had been tilted the other way then the first, second, and third comments would be "NewsFilter", "AgendaFilter" and "WhoGivesAShitFilter". The text following the link is conclusionary ("the worst show in history") and supported only by opinion.

I'm not saying that it's a bad post (it's probably FPP-worthy), but it doesn't seem worthy of a "good post" callout for any reason other than the fact that it confirms the beliefs of some MeFi members and allows a big circle-jerk in the comments.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 5:14 PM on January 15, 2005


I want to see a journalist, or anyone else who can get with Novack, ask that pond scum why two other journalists are nearly in jail but no similar judicial proceeding has been started against him.
posted by billsaysthis at 5:25 PM on January 15, 2005


Legitimate question - what makes this a good post

As objectively as I can see it, it's not a particularly good post, but it's not a bad post, either. I can understand how people with certain political persuasions might see it as a good post, but I wouldn't outright dismiss it because it's always good to see a self-indulgent ass get his just deserts, regardless of his/her political persuasion.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:44 PM on January 15, 2005


I'm totally embarrassed to agree with devildancedlightly here, but what's so amazing about this post? It's a single-article link to an opinion piece from last week's NYTimes. I mean, I loved the article when I first read it, and it makes a pretty good MeFi post... but this doesn't deserve a "OMG AWESOME POST OLD CHAP!" when every third FPP has been getting crapped all over for the past couple weeks.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:53 PM on January 15, 2005


Wow, I'm sure glad that the New York Times is around to help CNN keep their journalistic ethics straight. Too bad that they couldn't have assigned this piece to Howell Raines or Jayson Blair.
posted by enrevanche at 6:11 PM on January 15, 2005


I didn't give it an awesome post, I thought it was good, not wicked awesome, good. I clicked the link on the FPP, read a well written and interesting story, came back here and read some interesting comments and felt that it constituted something I appreciated, hence, I feel that its a good post.

Especially because of the recent history with Jon Stewart's appearance, Zappa's rerun, Carlson's firing and the final ugly, pathetic, inept and limp legacy. The continuity of the series makes it a good post to me.
posted by fenriq at 6:15 PM on January 15, 2005


I found it interesting. The sheer blatancy of corruption in this country (on both sides of the aisle... it's not like Begala asked him anything, although one could argue he doesn't really represent the left) has become downright disturbing. In an age where sharing information is easier and cheaper than ever before, you'd think people would start to care a little more.
posted by rooftop secrets at 6:50 PM on January 15, 2005


"But man, it is getting incredibly damned hard to not become bitter and cynical. I feel like a foreigner in my own country now."

Hey fenriq, welcome to the club: I've felt like that since the first Reagan term. (No offense intended -- how old are you anyway?)
posted by davy at 6:54 PM on January 15, 2005


Legitimate question - what makes this a good post, other than AgendaFilter?

I think what makes this a good post is that it needed to be said. Firstly, most everyone here is familiar with the continuing saga of Crossfire's impending demise, Novak's douchebaggery, etc. That is to say, there is context here. Also, the story of Armstrong Williams has also been discussed. This is a blending of two different ongoing discussions here. If that isn't enough, regardless of your political affiliation, this is a disturbing example of how completely the media has abdicated it's responsibility to the public, and betrayed the trust placed in it.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:08 PM on January 15, 2005


Legitimate question - what makes this a good post, other than AgendaFilter?

Fenriq said it was a good post because it agrees with his views. Nothing more, nothing less. Postroad and fenriq represent the loony left, who along with the wacky right are highly represented on the internet, the one place they think they're being taken seriously.

And davy, why haven't you moved? I don't mean that in a snarky way, but if I had felt like a foreigner for 25 years I would have long been gone. It really is sad you'd rather complain on a website than actually do anything about it.

And deleted, it's obvious you're new. Have you read the guidelines? Nothing about links being postworthy bc they needed to be said. Wrong website.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 7:11 PM on January 15, 2005


from the NYT's article on canceling Crossfire (in the Business section): Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise." He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.

When was the last time a president of a network (or a president of anything) agreed with one of its harshest critics?
posted by amberglow at 7:15 PM on January 15, 2005


Dennis,

I'm a new member, that much is apparent for anyone who cares to find out. I've lurked for a year or so however.

What I meant to say is that the FPP needed to be said here. I figured that I made that clear when I gave my reasons why. I was wrong, I should have been more explicit for the benefit of those who would assume from the first sentence that I had nothing of value to contribute and disregard the rest of what I wrote.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:21 PM on January 15, 2005


Postroad and fenriq represent the loony left, who along with the wacky right are highly represented on the internet, the one place they think they're being taken seriously.

Postroad is an old school New Deal democrat, liberal on many social issues, less so on foreign policy where he is a dove on Iraq but a hawk on Israel. Dennis Murphy, for whom Eisenhower Republicans are Trotskyite fellow travelers, has been, on the on the other hand, highly representing the kneejerk hate lefties pro-Iraq war wacky right in many a thread on MetaFilter for years. No one takes him seriously at all.
posted by y2karl at 7:40 PM on January 15, 2005


This whole situation is beautiful. Dean won't get the DNC chair and the Democratic party will stay as Republican-lite.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 7:48 PM on January 15, 2005


how does that follow from the Rich article, drscrooge?
posted by amberglow at 8:00 PM on January 15, 2005


if you see it on TV it's entertainment. plain and simple.
posted by photoslob at 8:42 PM on January 15, 2005


Indeed. I wonder what's going to fill the insipid vacuum left by Crossfire's departure?

One can only hope for dead air time.
posted by kamylyon at 8:58 PM on January 15, 2005


Is anyone going to give me some answers? Seriously, is this being covered in any legitimate way on any of the networks?
posted by The God Complex at 9:14 PM on January 15, 2005


Honestly, where is the accountability? I don't see it anywhere in American politics these days. Payola should be a serious fucking scandal. If this happened to Clinton, there would have been a massive investigation into how high up this went. If it could be tied to Clinton, he would have been impeached as fast as Congress could act, and they would have been right to do it. This kind of corruption is disgusting even for the developing world.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:33 PM on January 15, 2005


"And davy, why haven't you moved? I don't mean that in a snarky way, but if I had felt like a foreigner for 25 years I would have long been gone."

I ain't running because I was born here to a long line of people who were born here: my father's mother's people have been for here for ~12,000 years if you buy the Bering Bridge theory, my father's father's people came over here from the British Isles (willingly or not) decades before the colonies even though of becoming united, and my mother's people were 1880s-vintage German Mennonites who wanted a decent farmstead of their own in a peaceful place among their kind (which they were told back in Saxony was honestly bought from "enlightened natives"). No, this is MY country: the Bush-Cheney clique and their ilk are despoilers and traitors and it's they who should leave. Maybe their friends the "liberated" Iraqis will take them in.

"It really is sad you'd rather complain on a website than actually do anything about it."

Heh. In 1978 I got pissed off and shot my mouth off in the wrong place to the wrong people at the wrong time (big surprise, huh?), blowing any reasonable chance of being able to do very much at all. Oh well. They also serve who only sit and type.

So, Mr. Murphy, assuming you're an American too (still a safe bet among Mefites I take it), what have YOU done for our country lately? Note I said FOR our country, which rules out leading cheers for fascist traitors.
posted by davy at 9:52 PM on January 15, 2005


Is [expletive deleted] the only one who read this article like I did? It's not about Crossfire at all. It's about the punditry-whore scandal involving Armstrong Williams. At any other time, the fact that "journalists" (and apparently, the plural is correct here) were paid money by the US Treasury to support administration policies in the media would have been a massive scandal. The party in power used tax payer money to pay for covert propaganda in its favor. That's what this article is about, and I'd love to hear discussion and read more about it. I must be some kind of innocent, but I think it's mindboggling.
posted by muckster at 10:24 PM on January 15, 2005


The Great and Mighty Whore has many faces. Try not to act so surprised when you see one that's new to you.
posted by trondant at 10:38 PM on January 15, 2005


It's neither the whore nor the pimps who surprise me, it's the clueless johns who still call her sweetheart. Seriously America, don't you see you've turned into a tacky banana republic? When are you going to do anything about it? I'm so terribly disappointed and it's breaking my heart.
posted by muckster at 10:53 PM on January 15, 2005


Armstrong Williams is an extreme, egregious case, but buying off journalists (one way or another) is nothing new. A columnist in the National Journal argues that Williams should at the very least give the money back, and then adds a few trenchant observations:
Why shouldn't Armstrong Williams pay, too? The WorldCom and Enron cases are being settled to satisfy aggrieved investors, but since Williams took taxpayer money, the case for his returning the money is even clearer. In a chat with readers on WashingtonPost.com this week, Williams was asked more than once about returning the money. He said he wouldn't because he'd been paid to do a job and he'd done it; that the only mistake he'd made was not disclosing the arrangement. "We delivered on our goals and they delivered on their compensation."

That sentence alone deserves some kind of prize for candor about how the public's business is now done in Washington. Indeed, watching the Williams case unfold makes it feel like someone finally shined a light on a murky old swamp. Media figures have been "selling" themselves to people in government for years. But the pay the toadies traditionally get in return for their supportive opinions isn't actual money. It's access, invitations to fancy parties, phone calls from movers and shakers -- the feeling of power.

Because those deals were largely unspoken and abstract, there was nothing we could do about them. But there's nothing abstract about $240,000. As this column went to press, Williams hadn't given the money back. He should, and let a scandal-weary nation believe there's still a shred of fairness in this media life.
P.S. As noted in Powers' National Journal column, over in The Nation, Washington editor David Corn says that Armstrong Williams claimed that there were other pundits involved in shilling for pay.
posted by enrevanche at 11:31 PM on January 15, 2005


I was surprised when i saw the Daily Show on CNN international this Saturday. It seems we get some 'Global Edition' of the show now. Only on CNN International .
posted by sebas at 1:11 AM on January 16, 2005


The 'Global Edition' has been there for years, since 2001 at least.
posted by tapeguy at 4:14 AM on January 16, 2005


Much as I agree with Frank Rich's sentiments, I really wish the NY Times would move him out of the media critic slot and onto the Op-Ed page. His media criticism is consistently biased to the left, which only helps those who say that the Times is too liberal.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:29 AM on January 16, 2005


The 'Global Edition' has been there for years, since 2001 at least.

It has been but it gets such freaky time slots in Europe (after midnight CET on Fri/Sat IIRC) that it reaches far less people than it would otherwise. I'm amazed at how many people know the show, but are unaware that it gets broadast here as well.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:18 AM on January 16, 2005


The original post links to a Herald-Tribune version of the article. Note that the original article in the NYTimes is quite a bit longer (though of course requires soul-sucking registration . . . ).
posted by flug at 9:17 AM on January 16, 2005


Frank Rich WAS on the op-ed page of the Times, then moved back to the Arts section (where his theater criticism had appeared for years) because he had more space there for longer pieces.

Check out this interview with Rich conducted shortly before he moved back to Arts & Leisure.

One reason this was a good post: Rich's article appeared here (yesterday) before it appeared in the NYT (today).
posted by Julie at 11:36 AM on January 16, 2005


Thanks, Julie. But, crap. Whenever I see something in the Arts & Leisure section titled "The Nascar Nightly News: Anchorman Get Your Gun", I cringe a little.
posted by A dead Quaker at 3:56 PM on January 16, 2005


"Is anyone going to give me some answers? Seriously, is this being covered in any legitimate way on any of the networks?"

The Answer is: 42, of course.

Why would the networks cover this? It would only invite a comparison to their own value. The best tactic they could use is to ignore it.
posted by Busithoth at 4:57 PM on January 16, 2005


Much as I agree with Frank Rich's sentiments, I really wish the NY Times would move him out of the media critic slot and onto the Op-Ed page. His media criticism is consistently biased to the left, which only helps those who say that the Times is too liberal.

Any fair and balanced reporting is going to look liberal these days. No way around it.......'cept maybe if anyone besides Bush was President.
posted by codeofconduct at 10:55 PM on January 17, 2005


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