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Ted Koppel's critique of blatant bias in cable news
November 14, 2010 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Ted Koppel: Olbermann, O'Reilly and the death of real news

Beginning, perhaps, from the reasonable perspective that absolute objectivity is unattainable, Fox News and MSNBC no longer even attempt it. They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and loyal viewers) at either end of the political spectrum would like it to be. This is to journalism what Bernie Madoff was to investment: He told his customers what they wanted to hear, and by the time they learned the truth, their money was gone.
posted by Neekee (140 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always though Koppel was a class act and a tough guy to put one over on. I wish there were more like him doing news today.
posted by Mister_A at 9:37 AM on November 14, 2010




.
posted by dubitable at 9:43 AM on November 14, 2010


Olbermann, Beck, Maddow and O'Reilly don't really pretend to be "Journalists". They claim to be giving their viewers "the real story" and all, but so do opinion columnists, and these people are the television equivalent of opinion columnists. Audiences who are already politically aligned with these commentators watch them to have their points of view confirmed for them; not to get the news. Having said that, I certainly do appreciate his point that partisan commentators are definitely overtaking news' share of the viewing audience, and that network heads see the former as far more profitable than the latter.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:44 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ms Suu Kyi added that, during her time in detention she had never felt alone, partly thanks to the BBC, which kept her in touch with the rest of the world.

So, the real news is still out there.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:45 AM on November 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


We live now in a cable news universe that celebrates the opinions of Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly

Looks like Koppel is auditing classes at the Jon Stewart School of False Equivalence.

Koppel and other TV network journalists fell silent when the Fairness Doctrine was dismantled during the Reagan years, and people can draw a straight line from that event directly to the domination of conservative talk radio, FOX News and other right-wing media over public discourse.

So perhaps it is not really his place to critique modern journalism, when he can't bother to report the facts accurately on what happened during his own tenure as a network talking head.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:45 AM on November 14, 2010 [50 favorites]


It's obvious that MSNBC is going for the "progressive" audience—their Lean Forward ad campaign makes that plain and transparent... I mean, they're not calling themselves Fair and Balanced, right?—but Fox News is playing the ideological false-reality game on a whole other level.

If an organization like Media Matters took a magnifying glass to MSNBC, do you think they'd find the same amount of bias, distortions, misinformation, and flat out lies as they do when covering Fox News? Call me naive, but honestly, I don't think they would.
posted by defenestration at 9:46 AM on November 14, 2010 [15 favorites]


Regardless of who is delivering the message, and his own history, it's still a valid point.
posted by Neekee at 9:51 AM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


america...you should view mediums as distinct in their message, but also measure volume. talk radio + fox news is much louder than a couple of msnbc shows.
posted by lslelel at 9:51 AM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ted Koppel, astute as ever: ‘[Cable News] is to Journalism what Bernie Madoff was to Investment.’
posted by krautland at 9:57 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looks like Koppel is auditing classes at the Jon Stewart School of False Equivalence.

Koppel and other TV network journalists fell silent when the Fairness Doctrine was dismantled during the Reagan years, and people can draw a straight line from that event directly to the domination of conservative talk radio, FOX News and other right-wing media over public discourse.


How do you have a fairness doctrine without enshrining false equivalence?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:57 AM on November 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


people can draw a straight line from that event directly to the domination of conservative talk radio, FOX News and other right-wing media over public discourse..

That's quite an opinion you have there, Blazecock Pileon. I wonder what the other side of the story is...
posted by ericost at 10:00 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a burrito place in a food court at my rather large public university with a giant sign reading, "It's good, and good for you." It's not. At all. They do not serve anything even remotely healthy. I am baffled by this the same way that I am baffled by O'Reilly's constant claims of a "No Spin Zone." Unhealthy lunch options and partisan infotainment is one thing. Passing it off as the opposite of what it actually is seems like it should be criminal.
posted by TurkishGolds at 10:05 AM on November 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and loyal viewers) at either end of the political spectrum would like it to be.

Either end of the center-right spectrum, maybe, a spectrum including all the many, many shades between orange and yellow.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:08 AM on November 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


I would say one of the bigger failures of the US media was their coverage during the lead up to the Iraq war. This failure wasn't because the media covered the story with a right or left bias but because they covered the story with a government bias. I think the article The Hamms Bear linked to kind of sums up what went wrong:
During the late 1980s, researchers at the media watch group FAIR (where I’m an associate) conducted a 40-month study of Nightline, 865 programs in all...On shows about international affairs, U.S. government policymakers and ex-officials dominated the Nightline guest list. American critics of foreign policy were almost invisible.

But Koppel, the program’s anchor and managing editor, didn’t see a problem. “We are governed by the president and his cabinet and their people,” he fired back. “And they are the ones who are responsible for our foreign policy, and they are the ones I want to talk to.” Instead of wide-ranging public discourse, Koppel’s show was primarily a conveyor belt for elite opinion at crucial junctures. Later, if he got around to exposing official deception, he was apt to debunk propaganda that he helped to spread in the first place.
posted by Staggering Jack at 10:10 AM on November 14, 2010 [26 favorites]


The key to muffling FNC would be to figure out how to fight their tactics. I've longed for some sort of PSAs about how doing things out of anger is a horrible reason. And that reactions or ideas formed while angry or upset aren't usually the right decisions. Stop. Think. Pennzoil Be Deliberate.
posted by SirOmega at 10:11 AM on November 14, 2010


TurkishGolds, my rule of thumb is to always assume the opposite of claims like your burrito place. If you are looking for authentic Mexican food, the last place to look is the place that has a giant sign outside that proclaims "AUTHENTIC MEXICAN FOOD!"

When a "news" organization spends so much energy bragging about how "fair and balanced" they are, then you know you are in the wrong place.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:12 AM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here's a (rhetorical) solution to this problem: prior to the advent of CNN, news in the United States was the responsibility of three major networks, a public television network, and a combination of radio stations and newspapers. Subsequently, those networks still exist, but have been supplemented by the vast swath of the internet and a series of political entertainment channels (admittedly, lots of newspapers have died in their too, but that seems a separate problem). The solution, it seems, is make those three networks + PBS focus on news.

I said this in the Jon Stewart thread, but it bears repeating: PBS Newsline & Frontline come absolutely 100% free to anyone who has a television. NPR's news lineup comes free to anybody with a radio. Fox News and MSNBC cost whatever ridiculous amount your cable subscription costs. The problem isn't access, it's getting people to eat their vegetables.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:14 AM on November 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


Yes, Fingers of Fire, my rule of thumb is to make my own evaluations as well. But it seems like these claims that are intentionally misleading can be very dangerous to those who don't evaluate with the same filters as you and I. We wouldn't have to look very hard for examples of old cigarette ads with absurd health claims. These are illegal now. How is the sign at the burrito place or O'Reilly's "No Spin Zone" any different?
posted by TurkishGolds at 10:16 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm now stuck by another thought, having read the whole piece.

He's not completely wrong. Television news has changed dramatically from loss-leading truth-bearers to glossy (and profitable) attention grabbers. 24hr "News" networks are the logical outgrowth of Free Market TV news.

But, hasn't this happened with every form of News dissemination? I think of broadsides leading to newspapers, which then started pulling in advertisers. With the birth of advertising came sensationalism and lies — Yellow Journalism. Fuck, now we give out prizes of excellence named after Pulitzer.

The next logical step is solid news reporting on the Internet. I've said this before, but this is how it could work:

In the past we had these huge news bureaus, all over the world, that covered many different issues. In essence, each company—NBC, ABC, etc—went out of their way to cover everything. This was expensive as hell. Nowadays, that's the wrong way to go — especially on the Internet. News organizations on the web should be niche and obsessed with reporting factually about their specific focus. The next step in making this approach work would be News Aggregating sites that we trust to aggregate only the most factual niche News sites. We'd go to a webpage like nytimes.com or cnn.com, but instead having our view of the world and what's happening delivered to us by one organization, we'll be taking in the work of many very dedicated, focused niche bureaus.
posted by defenestration at 10:16 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's quite an opinion you have there, Blazecock Pileon

At least it's reality-based. That FOX News could exist — that Rupert Murdoch, Clear Channel and other right-wing media entities could operate how they operate today, namely employing people who call Democratic politicians socialist Nazis on a daily basis without providing airtime for any response — had the Fairness Doctrine still been in place, seems highly unlikely given what the Doctrine actually states.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:20 AM on November 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Anybody who thinks Maddow and Beck are doing the same thing on different ends of the political spectrum hasn't spent much time watching either or wants to push this agenda for their own reasons.
posted by drmanhattan at 10:21 AM on November 14, 2010 [38 favorites]


you know what's so fucking irritating? that none other than my "senior" US Senator, Chuck Schumer, is the shmuck responsible for the expediting of Rupert Murdoch's legal immigrant & naturalization status so he could plunk all that money into FOXTV and the New York Post.

yeah, the same chuck schumer who is hell bent on criminalizing any attempts at citizenship from any of all those brown people from south of the border that dont give him money for re-elections. the same "liberal democrat" who self-mockingly hits the talking-heads scene with squeals of "fairness doctrines".

ugh.
posted by liza at 10:22 AM on November 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Looks like Koppel is auditing classes at the Jon Stewart School of False Equivalence."

I don't think he is saying that are equivalent. I think he's saying they are both rubbish in terms of journalism. Which is true.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:25 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the Fairness Doctrine only applied to the broadcast spectrum, so cable outlets like Fox News would be immune (as would Internet radio, blogs, etc). But it probably would make Limbaugh-style talk radio impossible, which would be a huge boon in and of itself.
posted by gerryblog at 10:27 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"That FOX News could exist [...] had the Fairness Doctrine still been in place, seems highly unlikely given what the Doctrine actually states."

Does the Fairness Doctrine even apply to cable news? I thought it was just for broadcast licenses.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:29 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Koppel is a worthless, lying, cryptoconservative blight on journalism and always has been.

If he had even a scintilla of professional integrity he'd be talking about the enormity of Tea Party/Corporate propaganda and congratulating Olberman for having the almost singular guts to confront and expose them.
posted by jamjam at 10:31 AM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, FOX News did not exist when the Fairness Doctrine was dismantled. But it wasn't the only Murdoch property to exist between the mid-1980s and today.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:33 AM on November 14, 2010


The death of real news, in politics at least, is the horse race mentality. The narrative the media likes to push is a constant conflict, a race to the finish. The only analysis their experts ever seem to give is "What will this do to our hero/villain's chances on election day". They never talk about whether a policy is good or bad. They never talk about things in concrete terms. It's all built on opinion and perceptions based on polls.

If the media stopped taking polls, just stopped altogether, or otherwise completely ignored them, for a week or even a day, they'd have nothing left to talk about. And it would be clear what an empty exercise they're engaged in. Get rid of the horse race mentality, and maybe the partisan hackery would come to an end.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:35 AM on November 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


@gerryblog

yeah, but that was by design and advocated by that hypocritical PoS we new yorkers have for a senator.

democrats are guilty as sin for the mess we call "mainstream media". the fairness doctrine and Murdoch's outright bribing himself into a US citizenship wouldnt have happened without water-carriers like schumer (FOX HQ and of course, the NY Post are stationed in NYC).
posted by liza at 10:37 AM on November 14, 2010


@BlazecockPileon

the FOX network was born in 1986, a year after Murdoch became a naturalised citizen in order to satisfy the legal requirement that only US citizens were permitted to own American television stations --a requirement that Schumer made his own personal crusade.

the beginning of the end of the fairness doctrine was marked by 1985 FCC policy changes and 1986 SCOTUS decisions.
posted by liza at 10:46 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


To the extent that Koppel is a good friend of Jon Stewart and is, perhaps, joining in on the hate-du-jour for MSNBC anchors Ms. Maddow and Mr. Olbermann, the damage that corporate media causes — a business that Koppel made a career of being a part of, BTW — is a long-running story that perhaps deserves a more honest, more self-reflective op-ed piece.

A worthwhile read on this subject is James Fallows' Breaking The News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy. Fallows discusses the nature of media sensationalism as a systemic problem, and how it has worsened due to relaxed oversight of media conglomeration over the last two decades that prioritizes ratings over reporting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:51 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am baffled by this the same way that I am baffled by O'Reilly's constant claims of a "No Spin Zone."

When a "news" organization spends so much energy bragging about how "fair and balanced" they are, then you know you are in the wrong place.

Obvious Truth No.1: Fox News is Republican Propaganda
posted by thescientificmethhead at 10:51 AM on November 14, 2010


there is a catch 22 here that dinosaurs like koppel don't seem to grasp. this country demands great journalism and it is essential that we get it in order to prevent the disastrous effects of a newsgroup like fox. however, very good journalism is not difficult to find on the internet and it's free. i would think that the supply of journos from colleges and universities that teach it will soon be in short supply as the field becomes as irrelevant as steam engineering. i also think the pairing of olberman and o'reilly doesn't really work. i see olberman doing repair to the damage done by o'reilly and i think that elevates his work beyond the pandering of the right. koppel dreams, i think, of crisp autumn afternoons playing touch football with ed murrow, walter cronkite and the kennedy's, but it's only a dream. he never made the team.
posted by kitchenrat at 10:52 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


FOX network was born in 1986

I'm not sure that's the same as FOX News, which was launched in the late 1990s. The FOX network and network affiliates were those UHF stations that started showing The Simpsons etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 AM on November 14, 2010


I'm happy Koppel wrote a nice article about this, nicely articulating the situation of biased news, bu this shit is ooold news. It all started with Limbaugh, before the Gulf War. This particular sorry state of things has been sorry for a long, long time and yes, there's no comparing right and left bias. News as entertainment for the right has been developing into huge culture and there's nothing that compares, remotely, to that particular entity.
posted by uraniumwilly at 10:56 AM on November 14, 2010


I think the main problem is and always has been advertising, and the idea of news as a big money making operation.

News has traditionally made money, but not by the metric ton, and not quickly. With the rise of corporate media we see the same "more profit, quicker" mentality being applied to news that is applied to everything else, which means they look for sensationalism and any commentary goes straight to the Limbaugh style. It's profitable, so they do it.

And then we get to advertising. No news outfit out there will even consider covering corporate crimes and malfeasance because it would cut their ad revenue. The current mess in video game reviews is a perfect, if small potatoes, example. Advertisers want good reviews and pull ads if they don't get them. As time passes it becomes second nature for reviewers to churn out an endless stream of "reviews" that are nothing but advertisements in disguise.

The same applies to the death of investigative journalism. Every scandal a journalist exposes is a pissed off advertiser, the rational course of action (from a profit standpoint) is to stop spending money on investigative journalists.

Worse, we have a system of interlocking and interbred corporate ownership. Not only do we have the issue of advertising, but also and increasingly the fact that the owners of media are also the owners of the very corporate bodies that media should be reporting on.

As government and corporate interests merge the same applies to serious reporting on government affairs. No one seriously challenged any of the lies told during the lead up to Iraq, not only have the reporters on the political beat been compromised by the cocktail party mentality and their own insider status, the owners of the media largely didn't want any real reporting because the war stood to be very profitable either to them directly, or at least to their fellow corporate barons.

Yeah, the shouting match nonsense is annoying, but it is hardly the root cause of anything. And, given that the Extreme Right Wing has shouters everyone else needs shouters too or else they lose.

Look, for example, at the mid term elections. Exit polling showed that many people voted on the grounds that the deficit had increased and their taxes had gone up. Of course, the deficit had decreased and for over 95% of Americans their taxes had gone down. But the Shouters for the Extreme Right Wing went largely unchallenged (I note that Ted Koppel didn't do jack shit to counter their blatant lies) and as a result their outright lies about taxes and the deficit were instrumental in the outcome of the elections.

So long as Limbaugh and his ilk exist there **MUST** be a countering force on the other side. And none of the current "left wing" commentators are even remotely as far to the left as Limbaugh et al are to the right.
posted by sotonohito at 11:00 AM on November 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


We live now in a cable news universe that celebrates the opinions of Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly - individuals who hold up the twin pillars of political partisanship and who are encouraged to do so by their parent organizations because their brand of analysis and commentary is highly profitable.

What strikes me is not that cable news celebrates the opinions of partisan commentators, but that said partisan commentators are so... feeble. And hacky. Give me Ezra Klein or Hitchens or Nate Silver or Tyler Cowen or even, so help me, Andrew Sullivan, and I won't mind the bias. Of course then the teeming millions would go elsewhere.
posted by eugenen at 11:03 AM on November 14, 2010


Oh awesome, another thread of people who love Maddow and Olberman saying that they're just great, and it is OK that we have a "liberal news" because, darnit, Fox News just does it better and they have more viewers.

See, I love Rachel Maddow, I really do. I actually saw her and her partner walking down the street in the East Village last week and I wanted to run up and hug her because she's one of my favorite people of all time. (I left her alone because I'm not one of those people.)

So anyway, it hurts to say this, but there is a parallel between what she does and what Fox News does. What they do and what she does is not purely "the news." Yes, it is one woman versus a massive media machine, and she is obviously the underdog in that race, but really, the race they're both playing a part in is to see who can preach loudest to their choir, and which one has the biggest choir.

They are both opinion-tainment about politics and the goings-on of the world. They each have their place, but their place shouldn't be the replacement of "the news." Just because you like one of them and not the other doesn't mean that the one you like is doing noble journalism and the other is the devil.

Sadly though, I don't think many people want "the news" anymore so none of this really matters.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:05 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maddow and company at MSNBC still work from a position of fact. Fox News has but a passing, casual daring relationship with facts.

Sometimes I wish MSNBC was as partisan as people want them to be.
posted by andreaazure at 11:06 AM on November 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


...said partisan commentators are so... feebleGive me Ezra Klein or Hitchens or Nate Silver or Tyler Cowen or even, so help me, Andrew Sullivan, and I won't mind the bias. Of course then the teeming millions would go elsewhere.

Excellent point. Bill Maher delivers some nice zingers on occasion.
posted by uraniumwilly at 11:07 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


So long as Limbaugh and his ilk exist there **MUST** be a countering force on the other side.

You listed a ton of reasons why the Republican infotainment industry is horrible, and you closed with a comment that we/liberals/Democrats should be doing the same thing? And that would make it all better? How?

If, as you say, what they are doing is bad, then why would it not be bad coming from the other side?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:09 AM on November 14, 2010


The point is well taken – Olbermann and O'Reilly are equally useless shouters into the echo chamber – and for some it'll be well worth absorbing that for a bit. But the thing that Mr Koppel seems to remain so blissfully unaware of is that in its long and storied history television news has never once been thoughtful, engaging, direct, responsible, and responsive. Never once. And Mr Koppel displays his deep and abiding naïveté regarding this subject when he delivers this little stump speech, earnestly telling us that "it never occurred to the network brass that news programming could be profitable." Apparently his bosses effectively kept him in line by teaching him this silliness, though it's amazing to think that he actually believes it.

It's sad to me that people still watch television news at all. Given the remarkable availability of print information, it should be more obvious than ever, even to people on our side of the aisle, that the only reason anyone ever had to watch Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow or Chris Matthews or Anderson Cooper or any of these talking heads is to be told what to think.
posted by koeselitz at 11:12 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looks like Koppel is auditing classes at the Jon Stewart School of False Equivalence.

Ironically enough, this is pure political hackery.

Never mind what Stewart or Koppel are actually trying to say, that they don't end every sentence with "and of course we know FOX is evil" means we can summarily dismiss everything these people have to say. Never mind that Stewart said in the Maddow interview that he holds a "special place" for FOX news with a wry, knowing smile, because that's just not vitriolic enough. And how in god's name do you know if Koppel holds FOX morally equivalent to MSNBC? There is zero indication of how he feels about these organizations at any level of morality whatsoever. He is reporting on a shift in intent, from fact gathering to making money, and doing it in the way he was trained: objectively - without taking sides. Which, of course, is lost on a partisan who is putting him through the litmus test of whether he's on your side in some other debate.

As it turns out, both sides, Democrat and Republican have some pretty nasty, evil shit in their trophy cases. Are they equally bad? That's an interesting discussion to have. But it has nothing to do with Stewart is asking for and even less to do with what Koppel is reporting on here.

I don't think Stewart and Koppel are flawless, hardly, but it kills me with disappointment that we can't have a discussion about what these smart, articulate, compassionate men have to say about our society without getting mired in the very flaws they are pointing out.
posted by victors at 11:17 AM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anybody who thinks Maddow and Beck are doing the same thing on different ends of the political spectrum hasn't spent much time watching either or wants to push this agenda for their own reasons.

I, personally, do not think Maddow and Beck are the same thing on different ends of the political spectrum, but I do think they're both commentators speaking from and to different schools of political thought. Their means are different, but I think it'd be a bit glib to pretend Olbermann and Maddow aren't trying to speak from a leftist POV. I don't think either pretend otherwise. And I say this as someone who agrees 100% with the aspects of the news they draw attention to, and despise the things Beck says and does. They don't deliver "news" but their take on it. It's a take I personally agree with, but it isn't "neutral" by any stretch, and like koeselitz says, I wonder if neutrality in journalism ever existed in the first place.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:21 AM on November 14, 2010


Never mind what Stewart or Koppel are actually trying to say, that they don't end every sentence with "and of course we know FOX is evil" means we can summarily dismiss everything these people have to say. Never mind that Stewart said in the Maddow interview that he holds a "special place" for FOX news with a wry, knowing smile, because that's just not vitriolic enough.''

How vitriolic should he be during a polite interview, an intervew on the heels of his "we really need to stop being so fucking crazy, you're making us all look like idiots" rally?
I'm really sad that Jon isn't exactly as mad as you wanted him to be, I'm sure he is very sad that he isn't exactly who everybody else wants him to be too.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:22 AM on November 14, 2010


If, as you say, what they are doing is bad, then why would it not be bad coming from the other side?

Yes, but for a time, the no-compromise propagandists need to be beaten at their own game, or at least brought to a standstill, or the alternatives will simply be trampled or shouted down.

If they want to see what a real left-wing media demagogue looks like, give 'em a show. It will underline that we've got real alternatives to polarized bullshit.

In short, by fighting fire with fire, we can expose the rabid-right as being irrational and harmful - and we can ethically and morally do this because we're also offering real compromises and alternatives as well. In this case, it's self defense, not "one side is as bad as the other."
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:23 AM on November 14, 2010


How vitriolic should he be

unfortunately, I was trying to be sarcastic. That paragraph is not my view, it's what I've observed here. sorry for not being clearer.
posted by victors at 11:24 AM on November 14, 2010


Yes, but for a time, the no-compromise propagandists need to be beaten at their own game, or at least brought to a standstill, or the alternatives will simply be trampled or shouted down.

I'm sure that after the new FNC for Hippies Channel is built up and is more powerful than FNC, they'll shut it all down, having accomplished their mission.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:25 AM on November 14, 2010


I was trying to be sarcastic.

Hah. Man, I can't even fucking tell anymore around here. Where's that sarcasm tag?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:27 AM on November 14, 2010


drmanhattan: “Anybody who thinks Maddow and Beck are doing the same thing on different ends of the political spectrum hasn't spent much time watching either or wants to push this agenda for their own reasons.”

Beck and Maddow are doing the same thing on both ends of the spectrum, at least in the only way that really matters at all. Rachel Maddow and Glenn Beck create noise. One form of noise may be more noxious than another, but it's still just noise: distracting, partisan, and ultimately inhibitive of your ability to discern political truths.
posted by koeselitz at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2010


Fox News and MSNBC cost whatever ridiculous amount your cable subscription costs.

If U.S. cable tv plans allowed customers to pick and choose channels, instead of having to buy "packages", Fox News would drop like a rock. I guarantee you their subscription rate in Minneapolis would be almost nothing, and metro-wide would be a minority. Instead, practically everyone who signs up for cable here helps to subsidize Fox News.
posted by gimonca at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2010


If U.S. cable tv plans allowed customers to pick and choose channels, instead of having to buy "packages", Fox News would drop like a rock.

If you started charging a premium for anything, subscriptions would drop like a rock for anything non-essential.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:33 AM on November 14, 2010


Olbermann and O'Reilly are both partisan pundits of the two main sides of the political coin in the US but Koppel has a long history being a part of pro-establishment journalism. The willingness of TV journalists like Koppel to basically be the unquestioning mouth-piece of US foreign policy for decades makes them less than worthless in informing citizens about what the US government is doing.

Foreign policy is just one of many areas were the press at large drops the ball with staggering regularity. In the vacuum created by news, atomized events that have no history and have no over arching reach Fox creates a cohesive narrative based in distorted facts that the average over worked American can get their heads around. Given the moneyed interests in public and foreign policy and the way it has been a pressure on both law makers and the press in this country over the course of US history it's hardly a surprise to see a "news" outlet like Fox emerge in this country. It's the outgrowth of economic pressures and unchecked power. Why do Americans consistently vote against their own interest? Could it be they've been consistently misinformed on behalf of powerful interests for generations? Ted Koppel is just a cog in the machine, his sin (and those like him) is one of omission. O'Reilly (& those like him) are just the next bold step in a direction we've been headed for at least fifty years.
posted by nola at 11:34 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can someone clarify two issues for me?

1. Do Koppel or Stewart's criticisms amount to anything more than politely asking fox news to stop doing what they do, even though it is very successful at achieving their two primary goals of making money and winning elections for republicans?

2. How should a news-related tv show avoid the "opinionated" position that they dislike, but without giving in to bland and unuseful dichotomy of democrats say this, republicans say that, we won't tell you who is blatantly lying because that would be improper?
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:40 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's rich coming from a hack like Koppel, who once presented none other than Rush Limbaugh as an expert on global warming.
posted by BlueMetal at 11:41 AM on November 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Beck and Maddow are doing the same thing

When Maddow calls Bush a liar, it's because she has presented factual evidence of contradictory statements he has made, which create a logical path that the audience can decide the truth of for themselves.

When Beck calls Obama a socialist, it's because he's putting on a song and dance for his brain-damaged audience. There is no fact, it's a performance.

So the longer we keep falsely equating people like Beck and Maddow, the more damage we do to the larger discussion of holding corporate media accountable. These two people are just not the same.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 AM on November 14, 2010 [21 favorites]


These two people are just not the same.

I don't think that anybody is saying that they are the same.

If opinionated news was a crime, Fox would be in prison for a Class D Felony, and Rachel Maddow would have to pay the equiv of a $25 parking ticket.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:51 AM on November 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


So the longer we keep falsely equating people like Beck and Maddow, the more damage we do to the larger discussion of holding corporate media accountable. These two people are just not the same.

Yeah, I don't think anyone could call what Maddow does pure "news" because it just isn't on the other hand the "news" has done such a shocking job of presenting the hard facts to the public over the years, I have a hard time blaming Maddow for doing what she is doing. Namely bring anyone who will listen up to speed on an alternative narrative. Is she partisan? Yes. Is she also right on the money? Most of the time. She at least lays the ground work for the partisan case she is making and I may be missing something but unless there is no news/fact she is being factual. You may not agree with her conclusions but I haven't yet seen her twist the facts out of all recognition like Fox does, or leave out important facts like most TV new has. What do we do with generations of people that get their news from the TV and don't have a clue about the larger picture? Papers are dying and they've been the real source for most news (with exceptions of corse) for all the TV "talent" to mindlessly mangle for generations.
posted by nola at 11:52 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]



What I'm hearing from some here (and Jon Stewart) is the formal equivalent of pacifism: war is bad, period, so even if the Panzer divisions are on the border, that's no excuse to "stoop to their level" and kill. Some carry views like that with integrity. Some are just loath to get down in the mud and fight when necessary, or maybe they're just lazy. I can respect the position when given with seriousness, but I don't agree with it. Jon Stewart seems to think he can be "post ideological" in an extremely dangerous and partisan age. He can't be. Some ages demand that one choose sides. This is one of them.

Subtleties aside, saying someone as brilliant and substantive as Maddow is anything like Beck or O'Reilly is simply without merit. It serves not as any kind of argument, but as more evidence of the death of evidence-based reasoning in the public life, and the decent into idiocracy.
posted by mondo dentro at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: “When Maddow calls Bush a liar, it's because she has presented factual evidence...”

Sure, fine, whatever. Noise that's less noxious is still noise, like I said. There's still no attempt whatsoever made to cut out the bullshit and simply present the news, if that's what she's supposed to be doing. If she's supposed to be a thinker about politics, then she's clearly not; there is no attempt made to understand the meaning behind Bush's mistakes, the general tenor of American discourse, the actual historical context of all this. She's a pundit, and society needs pundits about as much as it needs street preachers and vandals. Noise.

“So the longer we keep falsely equating people like Beck and Maddow, the more damage we do to the larger discussion of holding corporate media accountable. These two people are just not the same.”

Ah, I've heard this line before. The only way to 'hold corporate media accountable' is to line up behind Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, and the rest of the left-leaning pundits, right? Or how was it people used to say it... "you're either for us or against us." I remember hearing that a few years back, can't remember precisely where.
posted by koeselitz at 12:03 PM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, I like Rachel Maddow, too. She's smart, she's funny, she's a fan of (good!) comics, she's...well, let's be honest here: she's kind of dreamy. All of this is true. But. In the old days when we had these things called "newspapers," there was a very clear distinction between what was news and what was commentary on news. Both things were present -- and yes, I'm not so naive that I really think the news even can be presented without bias, but lack of bias was certainly a holy grail that student journalists were told to strive for -- but the editorial page was meant to provide perspectives on the news (you know, the part appearing on the front page), points of view that you could either accept or reject, presumably after you had, you know, actually read the real news. Now: If one were so inclined, one could rely on the editorial page alone for his or her information -- just as one could rely on Beetle Bailey for that day's weather report, or the obituary page for movie reviews -- but the very layout of this strange, rotting-vegetable-matter-and-ink device implied that this was unwise. The news came first. Then there were the blowhards and their takes on the news. Then Garfield and the WonderWord.

It was shocking to me that Olbermann got suspended. Not because I do or don't agree with what he has to say, but because it never dawned on me that anybody really thought of him as a journalist. What he does isn't journalism. It's ridiculous to say otherwise. If journalism has fallen to such a low place that political commentators are supposed to be equivalent to news anchors, then Jesus fuck.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:05 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


One example of TV "news" that drives me out of my head is the way that every war, every "conflict" the TV media is right there beating the war drums then after it's to late they stand around shaking their heads and asking "how could we have been so wrong" "boy did we miss it this time" "what can we learn from these mistakes?"

Then a few years go by and we're in another indefensible war. Rinse repeat.

1950-53 – Korean War
1959-75 – Vietnam War (Tonkin Gulf)
1965 – Dominican Republic
1968 – Laos & Cambodia. U.S. starts secret bombing campaign . . .
1983 – Grenada
1988 – Operation Golden Pheasant was an emergency deployment of U.S. troops to Honduras in 1988, as a result of threatening actions by the forces of the (then socialist) Nicaraguans.
1989-90 – Operation Just Cause, Panama - On December 21, 1989, President Bush reported that he had ordered US military forces to Panama to protect the lives of American citizens and bring General Noriega to justice.
1991 – Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War).

It just goes on and on, and the TV press always gives us the story that the State Department want to give. Whether you believe these actions were undertaken for good reasons or not you can't deny the lack of comprehensive coverage by the US TV press.
posted by nola at 12:12 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


So the longer we keep falsely equating people like Beck and Maddow, the more damage we do to the larger discussion of holding corporate media accountable.

So as it turns out, you and Stewart and Koppel agree that corporate interests have corrupted core institutions. Stewart goes further, and I agree, that these same interested have corrupted the party system - both sides. Equally.

The difference is in how to address it. Stewart thinks we should having a different discussion right now along the real divisions in this society. Maddow and Oberman are not helping him achieve this.

You think we have to hold off on the real discussion until we all receive a personalized apology from Murdoch for unleashing Glenn Beck (?) something like that?

I'm going with Stewart on this one.

even if the Panzer divisions are on the border

perfect example of the unhelpful rhetoric.
posted by victors at 12:21 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: I'm beginning to get the impression you don't actually watch Maddow with any regularity. Your sweeping generalizations about what she does during her show are just simply not in line with reality.

I do grant you -- she's not strictly presenting news. But she does draw important threads of research into the background of news stories together into a context-filled report about the actuality rather than the presented fiction. A good example of this is her extensive reporting on supposed grassroots organizations during the Summer Of Shouting actually being created and funded by powerful corporate interests. Many other programs, including supposedly quality news organizations, were continuing to report groups like Americans For Prosperity as being homespun wellsprings of populist outrage even long after Maddow presented a very clear and fact-checkable trail showing exactly who was funding them and debunking their supposed grassroots origins.

Now, I wish more news organizations were actually following the money like Maddow's research team does regularly. I also wish more news organizations were working to deflate political rhetoric. The night The Daily Show presented the montage of clips showing John McCain saying "the system is broken and needs to be fixed" at every single election cycle since he was elected, I was left wondering why everyone else on the planet was reporting that "McCain says this thing" rather than "McCain has said this thing for as long as he's been running for office, look and see". But then, both Maddow and Stewart seem to be much more conscious of the conflict between what anyone in power says now versus what they may have said 2 weeks or 2 years ago. Perhaps this is partially due to the shortened memory of the public in general, likely created by our 24-hour news cycle itself always needing NEW things to report, and never bothering to look in the rear view mirror while they do it.

I agree that Olberman and Matthews are probably noise generators. Hell, Matthews can't even use a photo more recent than 15 years ago for his show promos, he's so detached from reality sometimes. But Maddow, and I'd suggest Lawrence O'Donnell on his new show... They're striving to avoid the shouting and the bloviating and are actually working to assemble the jigsaw pieces into a coherent picture. Perhaps it's a picture taken from a specific angle, but that's better than only focussing on one piece of the puzzle at a time and claiming you can see everything that needs to be known from that tiny fraction, which seems to be much more common in today's media landscape.
posted by hippybear at 12:22 PM on November 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


That's rich coming from a hack like Koppel, who once presented none other than Rush Limbaugh as an expert on global warming.

I don't believe this. I would, however, believe that Limbaugh was introduced as a spokesman for a certain political faction and Koppel, therefor, became part of the problem.
posted by uraniumwilly at 12:25 PM on November 14, 2010


I overall agree with what Ted Koppel is saying, but I am a bit concerned that it took MSNBC trying to compete with Fox News by using the same tactics for him to wake up and begin excoriating. So, it was okay for Fox to do it all that time, but the moment an opposite-polarity version of it appears everything is suddenly awful stupid extra-bad?

What is really happening here is that Koppel and the other broadcast newsmen didn't go after Fox News because of that conservative meme spread back then that they were biased. Now that there is a liberal alternative he feels he can go after that kind of bias without appearing like he's attacking a particular political position. But the time to attack it was ten years ago.
posted by JHarris at 12:32 PM on November 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Sure, fine, whatever. Noise that's less noxious is still noise, like I said. There's still no attempt whatsoever made to cut out the bullshit and simply present the news, if that's what she's supposed to be doing.

I'd love to know how pointing out that George Bush lied is "bullshit".
posted by downing street memo at 12:35 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd love to know how pointing out that George Bush lied is "bullshit".
posted by downing street memo

Heh.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:41 PM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


When Beck calls Obama a socialist, it's because he's putting on a song and dance for his brain-damaged audience.

Thank you for exemplifying the problem with Progressive politics. The baseline assumption is that those who vote for Republican candidates are brain damaged.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 12:49 PM on November 14, 2010


You think we have to hold off on the real discussion until we all receive a personalized apology from Murdoch for unleashing Glenn Beck (?) something like that?

This kind of emotional pleading is what is wrong with the decision to side with Jon Stewart's point of view.

When it cannot be shown that Beck and Maddow are equivalent, relying on truthiness to bolster the false equivalence is not much help, either.

It might feel good and noble to stand on the sidelines and call these two parties the same, but when reality intrudes, it becomes quite a difficult position to defend with facts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:50 PM on November 14, 2010


The baseline assumption is that those who vote for Republican candidates are brain damaged.

There is no such assumption, except in your own particular misreading of it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:56 PM on November 14, 2010


Thank you for exemplifying the problem with Progressive politics. The baseline assumption is that those who vote for Republican candidates are brain damaged.

Oh come now. That's not the problem with progressive politics, it's the problem with partisan politics.

In any case, it's obvious they're not literally brain damaged. Grievously misled, unenlightened, unquestioning, flat-minded, lacking in introspection, susceptible to charismatic leaders and full to bursting with false surety, yes. Granted all those conditions, it seems allowable to combine all that with a little hyperbole and say "brain damaged."
posted by JHarris at 12:57 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you for exemplifying the problem with Progressive politics. The baseline assumption is that those who vote for Republican candidates are brain damaged.


I don't think anyone is suggesting that those who vote Republican are brain damaged, just maybe those that watch Beck and think he's on to something.
posted by nola at 1:04 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


When it cannot be shown that Beck and Maddow are equivalent, relying on truthiness to bolster the false equivalence is not much help, either.

I don't understand you mean.

fwiw it's worth "False equivalence" is a moral argument. I don't see Stewart or Koppel making moral equivalence - you are extracting this from them somehow.
posted by victors at 1:23 PM on November 14, 2010


kiltedtaco: Can someone clarify two issues for me?

Will try.

1. Do Koppel or Stewart's criticisms amount to anything more than politely asking fox news to stop doing what they do, even though it is very successful at achieving their two primary goals of making money and winning elections for republicans?

That is the overt text, but not the true aim.

No one thinks Fox is going to stop what is obviously working for them because no one in the know really thinks Fox is anything but a propaganda machine. The only people who don't see this are the unfortunates in Fox's sway. Stewart and Koppel hope, I think, by shining light on this kind of thing, they can provide a way for those who are uncritically following Fox News to pull themselves out of their hole. This is why Stewart has appeared on Fox News' radar lately, they see now that he might have a real effect, not on them, but on their audience.

2. How should a news-related tv show avoid the "opinionated" position that they dislike, but without giving in to bland and unuseful dichotomy of democrats say this, republicans say that, we won't tell you who is blatantly lying because that would be improper?

You can check up on facts, you can try to find holes in the story of whoever's speaking, you can make phone calls, you can scour the airwaves and archives looking for contradictions, you can just not take them at their word but investigate.

Having a point of view in news is not a bad thing, so long as it is considered. I think the way to do news is to present the world as you see it, but having a brain in your head and willing to understand that you might be wrong, and if it turns out you are, not to dig in but resolve the conflict between your beliefs and the information presented. If you do that, continually and intelligently, understanding that your parent's/childhood/current notions of the world hold no special claim to rightness, then you would be unable to hold on to false dogma for long.

(You would also necessarily be humble, for you would have to retract your positions sometimes. So, bombast is a warning sign.)
posted by JHarris at 1:34 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand you mean.

You're making an emotional plea for agreement, because you feel you are correct. Instead of defending your position based on the reality of who these two people are and what they do on their programs, you create a strawman that, while it feels good to introduce into the discussion, does not actually contradict the vast dissimilarities between Maddow (or equivalent) and Beck (or equivalent).

fwiw it's worth "False equivalence" is a moral argument

The use of false equivalence here means you are equating two things when the basis of comparison is misleading, with the intent to perpetuate a falsehood.

MSNBC has shows with left-wing presenters. FOX News has shows with right-wing presenters. Having a point of view results in information being misrepresented, therefore both stations' presenters are equally dishonest, both have the same signal-to-noise ratio. False equivalence.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:43 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you for exemplifying the problem with Progressive politics. The baseline assumption is that those who vote for Republican candidates are brain damaged.

Those who watch Beck and find themselves convinced by his wacky bullshit are brain-damaged, or at least as mentally disabled as the idiom implies. Anyone with a fully functioning brain, liberal or conservative, would see through that guy in a second.

That they then go ahead and vote Republican because Beck tells them to - that's just a more advanced state of their disease, not a defining condition.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or as John Stuart Mill put it:
"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."
posted by bashos_frog at 1:51 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, the proof that people who vote for Republican candidates are brain damaged is the number of them who watch Stephen Colbert and think he's laughing with them instead of at them.
posted by localroger at 1:52 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


2. How should a news-related tv show avoid the "opinionated" position that they dislike, but without giving in to bland and unuseful dichotomy of democrats say this, republicans say that, we won't tell you who is blatantly lying because that would be improper?

Here's an example of what I wish the news media was like: Imagine if during the run-up to healthcare, the news anchors/personalities were all intelligent, discerning people who made an effort to read and fully understand the legislation on the table. Then imagine that those personalities made it their business to explain to their viewing public what that legislation contained, what it would mean to them and what it would and would not do. Imagine they did NOT allow Democrat or Republican shills to do that part of their job for them. Then imagine if they vetted the "analysts" and "talking heads" who appeared on their show to determine whether they had an opinion worth hearing or if they were just crackpots. What if then, they had Republican and Democrat representatives on to argue their case, but when either side said anything false, they said (for example) "Excuse me, sir, I've read the legislation, it does not in any way include anything like a 'death panel.' That is false. Let's restrict our remarks to something closer to reality please." Would partisan politics be able to survive in such an environment?
posted by wabbittwax at 1:57 PM on November 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Actually, the proof that people who vote for Republican candidates are brain damaged

For anybody arguing that both parties are not indistinguishable from eachother, I present the above evidence.

If you just ran a script to replace certain names, even discussion on the enlightened liberal hivemind of Metafilter is barely different than what people talk about on Freerepublic.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:58 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's an example of what I wish the news media was like: Imagine if during the run-up to healthcare, the news anchors ... made it their business to explain to their viewing public what that legislation contained, what it would mean to them and what it would and would not do. Imagine they did NOT allow Democrat or Republican shills to do that part of their job for them.

So in this hypothetical situation, I suppose we would not have heard so much from the Republicans about death panels go unchallenged.
Now, who can remind me which huge, obvious lies about the healthcare bill Democrats were spouting unchallenged? I mean, since they're equivalent and all.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:07 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now, who can remind me which huge, obvious lies about the healthcare bill Democrats were spouting unchallenged? I mean, since they're equivalent and all.

That would have required the Democrats to have actually been working hard to get their message out there. Which they quite plainly failed to do. They didn't really seem to have a coherent message other than, "no we don't really want to kill your grandmother."
posted by wabbittwax at 2:10 PM on November 14, 2010


Way to ignore the point, threeway. FWIW I'm not aware of too many lefties who are big fans of any right-wingers whose schtick is to try to make them look stupid.
posted by localroger at 2:13 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find it fascinating that looking back now, the TV show Max Headroom had become a cautionary tale we ignored.
posted by mephron at 2:14 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Threeway Handshake wrote If, as you say, what they are doing is bad, then why would it not be bad coming from the other side?

A) I don't see anything particularly wrong with overtly partisan opinion programs.

B) The position expressed in (A) does not conflict with my earlier statements regarding the problems in media.

You listed a ton of reasons why the Republican infotainment industry is horrible, and you closed with a comment that we/liberals/Democrats should be doing the same thing? And that would make it all better? How?

I don't see any other option. It isn't as if Beck/Limbaugh et al are going to stop if we ask nicely. Stopping them legally would be both impossible, and in my opinion horribly wrong. The only option I can see is to counter them with Shouters of our own. And neither Olbermann nor Maddow are Shouters. If the established media is having a conniption about such a pair of weak tea, mealy mouthed, civil semi-liberal opinion TV shows I can't imagine how they'd act if the Left got a **REAL** Beck or Limbaugh equivalent. And, worse, if people on the left are so dilligent about undermining the not anywhere nearly as vitriolic as they need to be shows that currently exist, I don't see how we'll ever be able to match the Right.

I'd rather we didn't have to match the Right, I like civil discussion myself. But so long as Limbaugh and his ilk exist, and again if you can see a way to get rid of them I'd love to hear it, there must be Shouters on the Left too.

The last 20 years of the Democrats steadily going further and further Wimpocrat shows what happens when you abandon the field to the enemy: they win. We, therefore, absolutely must fight back in kind regardless of how distasteful that is. The only other option is to admit defeat and give up now.
posted by sotonohito at 2:30 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're making an emotional plea for agreement, because you feel you are correct. Instead of defending your position based on the reality of who these two people are and what they do on their programs, you create a strawman that, while it feels good to introduce into the discussion, does not actually contradict the vast dissimilarities between Maddow (or equivalent) and Beck (or equivalent).

Who it "you" here? Me? or Stewart? Because, indeed, Stewart's entire point is that those folks are having exactly the wrong discussion - the terms of which was completely dictated by right-wing talk radio then FOX, but even that is irrelevant because the arguing facts of policy between Democrat and Republican, no matter how accurately or earnestly done is overshadowed by both parties having been corrupted by big money. Feel free to label this an "emotional" argument and claim all you want to have "reality" on your side - do I need to point out the places in the legislative, regulatory, justice, tax and electoral systems that are rigged against the general public's interests?


MSNBC has shows with left-wing presenters. FOX News has shows with right-wing presenters. Having a point of view results in information being misrepresented, therefore both stations' presenters are equally dishonest, both have the same signal-to-noise ratio. False equivalence.

OK, this is a strawman because NOBODY is saying this (!) Certainly not Stewart (who has made it all but clear he thinks FOX is more dishonest) nor Koppel. To grossly oversimplify the thrust of each: Stewart is saying both parties are corrupt and neither serve the general public the way they claim. Empty lefty rhetoric on one side and wingnut-Beck on the other notwithstanding, the division between D & R is being crazy inflated by the noise machine compared the real issues faces by real people. All Koppel is saying that opinion makes more money than "hard" news which is a drag because the republic is better served by straight reporting.

Nobody, but nobody says they have the same s/r ratio. They are saying that ratio is not relevant to the point they are making and you can't accept that. You want to talk about something else, something that bolsters your political view. The bummer for you is that you're playing right into the hands of right-wing noise machine because noise serves them expressly because they spin a better story - which everybody seems to agree on.
posted by victors at 2:31 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Many Americans, including liberals believe that the market, profitability, is the main measure of worth of any endeavor. Why the hell should anyone do something for free. News as public service or loss leader cannot exist in America anymore.

Go back and read one of the hundreds of "death of newspapers" threads if you need convincing. Newspapers that cannot turn a profit aren't fit to live. Or think back to one of the many conversations I'm sure you have all had about why certain degrees or careers are worthless since they won't make you rich.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:33 PM on November 14, 2010


Hey Threeway Handshake, let me get this straight...
There are a bunch of people (with less than stellar reasoning skills) who go around spouting conspiracy theories that liberals are planning to round them up, incarcerate them in FEMA interment camps and indoctrinate them into advancing the homosexual agenda.

And we should refrain from (correctly) pointing out that they are stupid, because it will lead to them abandoning the dialogue or some such thing?

And the fact that the stupid conservative people say horrible, nasty things about the educated liberal elitists is OK, because they're just honest, salt-of-the-earth Americans expressing their opinions (and brandishing their firearms).

I guess I get it now.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:39 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jon Stewart and Keith Olberman were both great to watch during the GWB years - really gave you a sense that you were not alone, that much more accomplished people than you had seen the monkey king and his entourage for the vile people they were. Similarly, discovering a lot of the liberalish blogs around that time kind of kept a certain feeling of solitude from taking over completely.

It was a nice illusion while it lasted. Things have become much more complicated since obama was elected, at least for me. Got rid of that mother fucker of a television in the meantime, and haven't bothered with any newspapers or other mainstream journalism in years now. We pretty much get all of our current events type information off the internet now.

How much of that is reliable is for anybody to say. You sort of end up depending on that much-maligned pattern recognition function of human perception. The thing about that is this: you can train it. You can go back and review previous assumptions, updating it all as new information comes in. Just because it's a fallible human facility doesn't mean it's not a valuable tool, frail as it may be. Not all intuition is created equal.

Maintain a sense of doubt at all times, though. The data sucks at times and blows at others, but the flow of bullshit never ceases for long.

Anyway, all these guys are just television personalities. They're all very successfull brownnosers on some level or they wouldn't be where they are. None of them are going to ever end a war or fix the economy - they're too invested in the way things stand today.
posted by metagnathous at 2:45 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


And we should refrain from (correctly) pointing out that they are stupid, because it will lead to them abandoning the dialogue or some such thing?
...
I guess I get it now.


No you're not getting it now. A real journalist could point out that there are no "fema camps" because there are none. And an investigative journalist could go to one of those camps they say are to detain Americans and show us what they actually are. It does not take a liberal talking head to do these things.

And the fact that the stupid conservative people say horrible, nasty things about the educated liberal elitists is OK, because they're just honest, salt-of-the-earth Americans expressing their opinions (and brandishing their firearms).

Awwww, somebody said bad things about liberals? I'm trying to hold back my tears. Let's say bad things about conservatives on the teevee and then we'll show them how it feels!

Here's the thing: you know how in the TSA, every time something bad happens on an airplane, they ban that thing used? Like, after 9/11, we couldn't bring boxcutters. Then we have to take off our shoes after the shoe bomber guy. It is really stupid to play catch-up, and anybody with a brain knows that the people doing bad things are one step ahead of the catch-up game. If we want to beat the FNC at the news, we can't just do what they're doing, and expect us to win. They wrote the book on this shit, us making our own version of Glen Beck looks just as dumb and makes about as much sense as if they made their own version of the Colbert Report, and not just because conservatives cannot have a sense of humor.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2010


us making our own version of Glen Beck looks just as dumb

How do you explain Tom Davis?
posted by clavdivs at 3:22 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't care so much about saying bad things about conservatives as I do about calling a spade a spade.

The people who believe in death panels: stupid.
The people who believe in FEMA camps: stupid.
The people who believe Obama's a Muslim/Nazi/Socialist/Fascist: stupid.

I really don't care if the believers are conservative or liberal - although it does seem that most of the people believing stupid things are conservative.

I don't want to see these kinds of things debunked by a journalist - I want to see them mocked.
I want them to be so self-evidently ridiculous that journalists don't see a need to bring them up, much less treat them as points of view worth of comparison to other opinions.
I want to see them mocked and ridiculed to the point that any person with a shred of self-respect would be horribly embarrassed to even bring them up in public. Although I fear that may be still be too high a bar to set - self-respect wouldn't factor into Beck's thinking, I'm sure.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't want to see these kinds of things debunked by a journalist - I want to see them mocked.
I want them to be so self-evidently ridiculous that journalists don't see a need to bring them up, much less treat them as points of view worth of comparison to other opinions.


I just don't get it.

You deride Jon Stewart because he's angry at what journalism has become. He has gladly taken the position of mocking journalists. See, he's got our back! Now real journalists can do real journalist stuff, and they don't need to spend time talking about death panels and such. If Maddow wants to also mock FNC, then, well great, but she's taking herself out of the journalism game just as much as Stewart has.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 4:51 PM on November 14, 2010


Threeway Handshake: >>Actually, the proof that people who vote for Republican candidates are brain damaged

For anybody arguing that both parties are not indistinguishable from eachother, I present the above evidence.

If you just ran a script to replace certain names, even discussion on the enlightened liberal hivemind of Metafilter is barely different than what people talk about on Freerepublic.


1. Metafilter is not an "enlightened liberal hivemind." You're memepushing. The opposite number of Free Republic is Daily Kos. Metafilter has no political affiliation, other than folks who had five bucks to spend.

MEMEPUSHING: Repeating something iffy in the hopes that it becomes common knowledge.

2. You're also cherry-picking what you respond to. In any community you can find people who have more knee-jerk reactions than others. The question is, how much of the discussion is that? It doesn't take much of a brain to see that Metafilter has a lot less of it than most places.

Rah rah rah! Gimmie an 'M!'
posted by JHarris at 4:52 PM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter has no political affiliation, other than folks who had five bucks to spend.

Yeah, we gladly take their five dollars and then everybody disagrees with everything that they'd dare say. Look up any Palin thread, or for that matter, any political thread, including this one.

Me and a few others are the only voices of dissent on this one, and as far as I know we're all liberal pinko commies as well.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:03 PM on November 14, 2010


Sure, fine, whatever. Noise that's less noxious is still noise, like I said. There's still no attempt whatsoever made to cut out the bullshit and simply present the news, if that's what she's supposed to be doing. If she's supposed to be a thinker about politics, then she's clearly not; there is no attempt made to understand the meaning behind Bush's mistakes, the general tenor of American discourse, the actual historical context of all this.

Just dropping by to call bullshit on this. One thing Maddow is extremely disciplined about is presenting historical context to her reports; she goes into great explanatory detail with frequency, without condescending to her audience. She also doesn't lie and issues corrections whenever they are needed. Sure she forms an opinion based on her reporting but the show is definitely not noise. Olbermann is pretty much noise, but Maddow is a legitimate reporter who just doesn't make an effort hide her opinions. I find those types of reporters the most trustworthy - the alternative is apparently Koppel.

Anyway, the most deadly aspect of the MSM is their willingness to consider the Dems "left-wing" and their most rabid supporters the "radical left", when the Dems are center-right and moving more right by the day. There is basically no representation of the left-wing anymore, yet the MSM continues to insist on finding the "sensible center" somewhere between the right-wing and the ultra-right-wing.
posted by mek at 5:16 PM on November 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


the alternative is apparently Koppel.

And I'm calling bullshit on this. There are thousands of good, honest, real reporters out there from all over the world, please don't act like you're unaware of this.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:32 PM on November 14, 2010


Yeah, we gladly take their five dollars and then everybody disagrees with everything that they'd dare say. Look up any Palin thread, or for that matter, any political thread, including this one.

So, what, I should agree with Palin supporters then, so that we would have more Palin supporters on the site? Having someone disagree with one's political views is not the same as being the target of sexism, racism, homophobia, or ethnocentrism.
posted by Marty Marx at 5:45 PM on November 14, 2010


So, what, I should agree with Palin supporters then

Good god no. I'm just saying that this is a very liberal site. Nothing wrong with that.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:12 PM on November 14, 2010


Chet Huntley this, Chet Huntley that.

We didn't know that we could become profit centers

please inform my browser.

"...To this passion for discovering truth there is added a hungering, as it were, for independence, so that a mind well-moulded by Nature is unwilling to be, subject to anybody save one who gives rules of conduct or is a teacher of truth or who, for the general good, rules according to justice and law..."

-Cicero.
posted by clavdivs at 6:26 PM on November 14, 2010


If, as you say, what they are doing is bad, then why would it not be bad coming from the other side?

It's like the prisoner's dilemma. Best situation for everybody is, nobody does it. Worst situation for us is, they do it and we don't.
posted by Kalthare at 6:31 PM on November 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


You deride Jon Stewart because he's angry at what journalism has become. He has gladly taken the position of mocking journalists.

Although I have no problem with mocking journalists and what they've become, what we need more of is journalists willing to mock the politicians who come on their shows spouting crap.

When a Republican politician goes on a news show and talks about death panels, or mice with human brains, or Obama enacting his father's secret Muslim plan to destroy the imperialist USA, I want to see that journalist treat them exactly the same way they would treat a 9-11 truther, or a Raelian, or any other crackpot.

Before we get to the point where journalists don't have to bring up such topics, we have to go through the stage where they bring them up only for pointing and laughing. Unfortunately there is quite a bit of distance to go, since we're currently at the stage of treating those topics as reasonable points of view held by non-brain-damaged people.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:18 PM on November 14, 2010


It's like the prisoner's dilemma. Best situation for everybody is, nobody does it. Worst situation for us is, they do it and we don't.

Alternative situation is they do it and we change the game.
posted by victors at 7:32 PM on November 14, 2010


"Old school" media gave us Judith Miller and two unwinnable wars that have bankrupted my country.

Fuck Ted Koppel.

And journalism is doing fine, just not in America. Fine -- I'd rather read the BBC's take on our elections than listen to an American outlet, even if it's MSNBC.
posted by bardic at 7:49 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, we gladly take their five dollars and then everybody disagrees with everything that they'd dare say. Look up any Palin thread, or for that matter, any political thread, including this one.

That is not part of Metafilter. It's part of Metafilter's userbase. Here's a question for you: Why is Metafilter's userbase that way?

Metafilter's token cash join-up requirement has resulted in a relatively-more-educated userbase than is usually seen on the internet. Educated people tend to be liberal. I wonder why that is.

The mere fact that MeFi's userbase is, on the average, liberal does not imply that it should be discounted out of hand, because it didn't self-select for liberalism. There is no rule saying conservatives can't join. Your existence here might be taken as proof of that. That's well and good, but you can't then point to us, call us commies out of hand, and expect us to stand for it.
posted by JHarris at 8:00 PM on November 14, 2010


And I'm calling bullshit on this. There are thousands of good, honest, real reporters out there from all over the world, please don't act like you're unaware of this.

That's not what we're talking about. There was one journalist I respected more than Maddow on American television: Bill Moyers. If you can think of any others I should be watching, let me know.
posted by mek at 8:35 PM on November 14, 2010


Alternative situation is they do it and we change the game.

Oh, absolutely. When you find yourself in a situation like a prisoner's dilemma, it's always worth looking for a third option, I think.

I can't think of any clean tricks that would be effective against their dirty tricks and their resources, but I wouldn't be in any position to enact them if I did, so I suppose that doesn't matter. All I can do is hope, vote, and donate.
posted by Kalthare at 8:39 PM on November 14, 2010


Let's not forget what "traditional" journalism looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izy6BiCV3Nw
posted by outlandishmarxist at 9:34 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't think of any clean tricks that would be effective against their dirty tricks and their resources

Caesar was a prisoner faced with a dilemma, as did his captors. They fed him, he wrote nasty poems about what he would do. (if true most likely to amuse them) when the gold was paid the dilemma was solved. Caesar came back and killed them all took the gold and incured a debt. I would say Caesar was 'reporting' on how he saw the situation.

Caesar (arguably) started the first daily newspaper.
'true Roman bread for true Romans.'

All I can do is hope, vote, and donate.

now this was the Octavian plan.
posted by clavdivs at 10:25 PM on November 14, 2010


There is no rule saying conservatives can't join. Your existence here might be taken as proof of that.

I prefer the term "socialist." But you can keep calling me names because you disagree with me if it makes you feel better.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:47 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Caesar was a prisoner faced with a dilemma, as did his captors.

Um, as near as I'm able to comprehend what you're saying there, the dilemma was that he was imprisoned? That's not the prisoner's dilemma. The prisoner's dilemma is a problem in game theory where two entities in one situation have to, separately, decide whether to act in good faith or bad faith. The best outcome for both entities comes when they both act in good faith, but the best outcome for each entity comes when they, themself, act in bad faith. It doesn't have anything to do with actual prisons or legal systems. It's just a thought experiment. "Pay the ransom and then come back and kill them" isn't really a response that's relevant to what we're talking about here.
posted by Kalthare at 11:26 PM on November 14, 2010


I don't even pretend to watch Keith Olbermann for news. I watch him, on occasion, because I have a secret, nerdy crush on him and have weird fantasies about him delivering a special comment right after we do it.
posted by PuppyCat at 6:21 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


network said it all, and said it over 30 years ago--and turns out, creepily presciently.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:19 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


This conversation is pointless until we start differentiating between (1) having a position and (2) lying. It's true that Hannity is right-wing and Maddow is left-wing. It's not true that Maddow lies as often, as brazenly, or as intentionally as Hannity.
posted by callmejay at 9:57 AM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


kalthare, i do understand, maybe not as well as you but this is not a game. or this that just the word for something else, im not sure.
The criteria i presented fits.

but the best outcome for each entity comes when they, themself, act in bad faith

'In the classic form of this game, cooperating is strictly dominated by defecting, so that the only possible equilibrium for the game is for all players to defect. No matter what the other player does, one player will always gain a greater payoff by playing defect. Since in any situation playing defect is more beneficial than cooperating, all rational players will play defect, all things being equal.'

IMO, this is just not sporting.
posted by clavdivs at 10:25 AM on November 15, 2010


Game theory isn't about sporting, nor is it about games in the conventional sense.

Further, the equilibrium results obtained by game theory don't work out to optimum for anyone, they're merely the point at which the system being analyzed moves to all other things being equal. This equilibrium is often counter-intuitive, because we aren't purely rational operators and the things we do in real life don't always match up with game theory.

As rational beings it is, theoretically, possible for us to choose outcomes other than the one predicted by game theory. In practice that rarely works out.

In this instance, there is something to be gained by having lying Shouters on your side. Various people may dislike this, they may avoid the use of Shouters, and enough people might dislike it long enough that Shouters don't get deployed for a while. But unless there are serious penalties for the use of Shouters, eventually someone will use them. And once they do they'll have the advantage until either a) they surrender the advantage by voluntarily ending their use of Shouters, or b) the other factions begin to use Shouters themselves.

As in the Prisoner's Dilemma that outcome is less than ideal for all parties. But unless some other mechanism adds penalties for the use of Shouters that exceed the benefits of using Shouters, then eventually everyone will have to use Shouters even if they don't like it.

For a counterpoint, consider the use of chemical weapons in warfare. There are benefits to using chemical weapons if no one else is, if everyone uses them then everyone loses, when viewed in isolation you'd think this would result in all sides using chemical weapons. However, several powerful nations decided to impose external penalties on nations which use chemical weapons, so long as those penalties outweigh the benefits of the use of chemical weapons then they won't be used.

If similar penalties could be imposed for the use of Shouters we'd see a different situation arise. However, since principles such as freedom of speech get in the way of legal remedies, and society as a whole rewards the use of Shouters, then I really don't see any way to effectively impose penalties for the use of Shouters. Thus we get the bad result that everyone has to use Shouters.
posted by sotonohito at 12:36 PM on November 15, 2010


then I really don't see any way to effectively impose penalties for the use of Shouters.

Nature will eventually impose some external consequences. See, e.g., the Roman Empire.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:19 PM on November 15, 2010


I said this in the Jon Stewart thread, but it bears repeating: PBS Newsline & Frontline come absolutely 100% free to anyone who has a television.

That's not what they say (over and over) during the pledge drives.

I'm curious what y'all think of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now, specifically as compared to Rachel Maddow and her show (can't remember the name). Both do independent reporting as well as compile reporting from other sources. (Perhaps Maddow has changed a bit since getting on TV?)

If Amy Goodman is part of the problem, I'm not sure I want to be part of the "solution."

Rachel Maddow and Glenn Beck create noise. One form of noise may be more noxious than another, but it's still just noise: distracting, partisan, and ultimately inhibitive of your ability to discern political truths.

I think that is a very false comparison. There is a whole lot of fancy talk here but not much evidence presented. Do you have any video links of Maddow "reporting" like Limbaugh or Beck? (I'll try to find some from Limbaugh/Beck.)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:33 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


game is a working term is it not regardless of how the word enters into the defintion. It is The RAND. I think the application is intersting and would agree but for the inchoate human condition.
counter point.

*There are benefits to using chemical weapons if no one else is
This benefit would be strategic militarily. hence an advantage to'win'

*If

*everyone uses them then everyone loses
the strategic advantage is lost

*when viewed in isolation you'd think this would result in all sides using chemical weapons.
a logical assumption if platos cave is isolation. or proper inelligence is not available.

*However, several powerful nations decided to impose external penalties on nations which use chemical weapons.

a tangable example is WWI. No. Saddam? ok?

*so long as those penalties outweigh the benefits of the use of chemical weapons then they won't be used.

I rest my case.

To posit: It's like

the prisoner's dilemma. Best situation for everybody is, nobody does it. Worst situation for us is, they do it and we don't.


is like giving the a wiki-class handout with no tangable comparsion to Teds little pearl:
THE REPUBLIC PEOPLE WTF.
or in plain text: The mob rules?
friikin game theory. Jebus no wonder Ellsberg leaked the heck out.
posted by clavdivs at 2:36 PM on November 15, 2010


i am a fool,
what menal whip said.

GOD HOW I LOVE BREVITY.
posted by clavdivs at 2:39 PM on November 15, 2010


Rachel Maddow and her show (can't remember the name)

It's imaginatively named The Rachel Maddow Show.
posted by hippybear at 2:40 PM on November 15, 2010


OK, here are the first two results I found that could be construed as Limbaugh and Beck misleading audiences. I only looked for 5 minutes or so...

Rush Limbaugh on Michael J. Fox

"My first thought was ... 'Naw.'"

Glenn Beck (with Ms. Guilfoyle) on the Cars.gov TOS.

Let's see some examples from Maddow and compare.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:42 PM on November 15, 2010


I didn't say Rachel Maddow (or Beck or Limbaugh, for that matter) misled audiences. I said it was noise. True, false, whatever. There are two things here: thoughtful commentary on the news, from a broader and less partisan perspective than I've ever seen from Maddow or Beck – and journalism. Whatever is neither is noise. I made this clear above, I thought: Glenn Beck is certainly a much more morally execrable form of noise than Rachel Maddow, and I'd much rather watch her show (in fact I do on occasion) but – sorry, she's part of the echo chamber. And I've never seen anything on American television that wasn't.
posted by koeselitz at 2:48 PM on November 15, 2010


True, false, whatever.

WTF?
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:39 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't take anything seriously that puts Maddow in the same sentence as Beck like they are on par. This is the old childhood game of "one of these things is not like the others," right? Because sorry, facts and supported arguments are not on the same plane as fiction and propaganda by whatever yardstick you want to use.

Whether or not it is good or bad to have a liberal cable voice is probably moot because I doubt the liberal slant on MSNBC will survive long under the evil that is Comcast.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:14 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't take anything seriously that puts Maddow in the same sentence as Beck like they are on par.

I can't take anybody seriously that thinks that Maddow's show is pure journalism instead of an opinion show.

Maddow has an opinion show, on which she reports as a journalist.

But Fox does this too. It is mostly opinion, but then they also report things like "there is a Hurricane hitting North Carolina," "there is a fire in California," "Chileans are trapped in a mine," etc. This makes both things they do similar.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:18 AM on November 16, 2010


Threeway Handshake: "But Fox does this too. It is mostly opinion, but then they also report things like "there is a Hurricane hitting North Carolina," "there is a fire in California," "Chileans are trapped in a mine," etc. This makes both things they do similar"

This is a pretty lame stretch, only made weaker by going from falsely equating Beck and Maddow to this. Your use of strawmen, specious logic and emotional pleading to equate these two parties is not helping your position.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:33 AM on November 16, 2010


I can't take anybody seriously that thinks that Maddow's show is pure journalism instead of an opinion show.

I'm sorry, but if there is anything that distinguishes Rachel Maddow from all the noise is that she researches her facts very, very well, as opposed to the noisemakers, who care little for fact and will, at times, manufacture their "facts" to fit their ideological arguments. This is not newly discovered nor is there any attempt to hid it on their part. Yes, Rachel focuses on topics that are relevant to progressive ideology, because she is a progressive and that's what interests her. In the same way, the conservative gasbags focus on their favoite issues, and they sometimes overlap with Rachel's. However, her M.O. is so far away from that of Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Hannity and all the Fox News and talk radio bloviators that lumping them together seems to be abus de langage. I'm not quite sure why you are so eager to do so.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


me: “True, false, whatever.”

Mental Wimp: “WTF?”

That really doesn't make sense to you? Fine. You should try watching my favorite news show – a documentary about the larval stage of South American fruit flies. "But it's all true! And it's carefully researched! Why shouldn't I get my news about the current political situation in the United States from a documentary about fruit flies?"

madamjujujive: “I can't take anything seriously that puts Maddow in the same sentence as Beck like they are on par. This is the old childhood game of "one of these things is not like the others," right? Because sorry, facts and supported arguments are not on the same plane as fiction and propaganda by whatever yardstick you want to use.”

People keep saying this – that I've put Maddow and Beck "on par" with each other. I've done no such thing. I'm only saying: noise is noise, no matter how factual it may be. It's still just a distraction from the real issues. And, yes, Rachel Maddow's show, like the fruit flies documentary (but quite unlike Glenn Beck's show, to be fair) is careful, well-researched, and entirely factual. And just as useful for getting news and a general picture of the political situation in this country.
posted by koeselitz at 9:21 AM on November 16, 2010


And just as useful for getting news and a general picture of the political situation in this country.

That's a pretty high bar, and one that NO news source meets as of this date.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:40 PM on November 16, 2010


Mental Wimp: “That's a pretty high bar, and one that NO news source meets as of this date.”

Not in the United States, anyway. Charlie Brooker's "Newswipe" does it on occasion, as does "Newsnight" in the UK, though that's not exactly consistent either.

I'm not asking for a lot, though. Look, I want to make this perfectly clear: I think Rachel Maddow is a fantastic human being, I respect her, and I know her show has plenty of research and care behind it. But this is what her show does: it treats the stories that people are talking about carefully, thoughtfully, being precise and exacting and certain that everything is fact-checked. The Rachel Maddow Show does this better than most shows; it's much more consistently truthful, and much more willing to call bullshit when something isn't right. But the subject matter is still the stories people are talking about.

That's why I class her as part of the echo chamber. I know she's trying valiantly, that she's making an effort to be an informed voice and give people a sound program. That's a hell of a lot more than Glenn Beck does. But it's still not a show that's willing to do a bunch of original reporting, say, on a vitally important subject that nobody is talking about. That's not a moral imperative, I know; and I don't say that makes Rachel Maddow a bad person. But it does make her show part of a system that persistently focuses on the wrong issues and ignores the really important events.

That's the problem, at the end of the day, with this mixture of a news show and a commentary show. I know lots of people are het up about the bias, but that doesn't essentially bother me; I won't watch a show that isn't well-researched, and we have enough information today to know that a given show (like the Rachel Maddow show) is telling us the truth on whatever topics it discusses. No – the problem with the news/commentary mix shows is focus – they naturally tend to focus on issues of the day that people in general are interested in, the standard talking points, the half-dozen stories that are currently 'in the public mind.' Those stories are rarely the important ones.

And yes: I know it's a very high bar. It's still a necessary one. And in lieu of having that kind of perceptive reportage, I still believe it's better to avoid the echo chamber entirely than to be drawn in.
posted by koeselitz at 4:09 PM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank you for the further explanation, koeselitz. This is a case where I recoiled from what you were originally saying but now I'm on board. It also comes nicely back to Stewart's point about using our magnifying glass to set ants on fire; regardless of how reasonably we are talking about Topic X, we are still choosing to focus on that topic (which is being dictated to us from elsewhere), which may be our first and most fatal mistake.
posted by mek at 11:45 PM on November 16, 2010


koeselitz, exactly what would you ask Rachel Maddow to report on in order to live up to your expectations for a "non echo-chamber" show? Because from what little I've seen of her this is still a very unfair criticism of her. To give one example, while everyone else was repeating the same few talking points about the ongoing Gulf oil spill, Maddow actually did her show from New Orleans for an entire week, chartered a boat to take her out into the spill area, and reported from the field about a lot of seldom covered issues such as exactly how the drainage and levee system works around here. She did a spot from Jean Lafitte park and did the most thorough job I've ever seen on a national forum of explaining how close this swamp is to the city and what measures exist (and don't exist) to keep the sea out.

So unless I'm misunderstanding, this seems to be exactly the sort of thing you're complaining that she doesn't do, except that she does in fact do it.
posted by localroger at 5:55 AM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Charlie Brooker's "Newswipe" does it on occasion

So does Rachel, "on occasion." Hell, even Bill O'Reilly manages to once in a blue moon. So I guess, unlike mek, I can't get on board your train just yet.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:51 AM on November 17, 2010


Hit "post" too quickly. Sorry.

About your statement regarding original reporting, though, I agree 100%. There is too little of this going on. Rachel does do some, and manages to bring to light stories others have ignored that aren't generated by the echo chamber, but her resources are pretty slim. We need more corporate money freed up for investigative journalism with constraints on whose ox gets gored and without an ideological axe to grind. That train I am on board.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:55 AM on November 17, 2010


But it's still not a show that's willing to do a bunch of original reporting, say, on a vitally important subject that nobody is talking about.

I'm not sure I agree with you about this. She was doing in-depth reporting on the C-Street cult house where a bunch of congress critters live and reporting on the creepy nature and influence of The Family for weeks before anyone else really picked up the story. She did MANY days on this story, and had Jeff Sharlett on as a guest many times to talk about whatever might be going on there, and it was only after she had spent a good week or two on the story that other news outlets started to pick it up.

She was also following the money on supposed grassroots organizations behind the Summer Of Shouting, showing that most of them were astroturf with ties to lobbyists or directly to the present medical industry establishment. She brought this to the fore when I didn't hear anyone else reporting on it. In fact, NPR was still referring to many of the organizations as "grassroots campaigns" as much as two months after Maddow made it pretty clear that they were, in fact, industry mouthpieces.

Those are only the two I can think of off the top of my head. I think she IS out in front on some stories, and she's willing to keep coming back to stories only she's reporting night after night until she feels the story has been told as fully as possible.

She's also spent more time on DOMA, DADT and the actions of NOM than any source I've seen other than Gay USA. It was on her show that Dan Choi came out, possibly actually sparking the renewed national debate about DADT in the news. Up until then, it was pretty much a background issue, and only after she had a couple of months being out in front of the pack talking about the issues did the cause really start to catch fire with the rest of the media.

She may be part of the echo chamber, as you say, but often she's the one making the initial shout for everyone else to start repeating.
posted by hippybear at 8:13 AM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Cooper then showed the following snippets: Rush Limbaugh talking about Obama's trip: "In two days from now, he’ll be in India at $200 million a day." Then Glenn Beck, on his radio show, saying: "Have you ever seen the president, ever seen the president go over for a vacation where you needed 34 warships, $2 billion -- $2 billion, 34 warships. We are sending -- he's traveling with 3,000 people." In Beck's rendition, the president's official state visit to India became "a vacation" accompanied by one-tenth of the U.S. Navy. Ditto the conservative radio talk-show host Michael Savage. He said, "$200 million? $200 million each day on security and other aspects of this incredible royalist visit; 3,000 people, including Secret Service agents."

Cooper then added: "Again, no one really seemed to care to check the facts."


The dissemination of false or misleading information is pandemic in Republican-sponsored media. I really can't say the same for "liberal" media (though I'm willing to consider examples).
posted by mrgrimm at 12:54 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have said this in another thread: I wish MSNBC was a liberal as people say they are. I wish that they were the ideological point to toe Dems as Fox News is to the GOP. They aren't. MSNBC still uses facts. They don't create controversies out of thin air.
posted by andreaazure at 7:50 PM on November 20, 2010


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