Cable News Confidential
The advent of CNN, the first 24/7 news channel in 1980, was hailed as a revolutionary development in media. It was soon to be followed by others. The results have not been encouraging. Most of the so-called news consists of fluff pieces on celebrity deaths, divorces, marriages, adoptions, babies, affairs and kidnappings. Recall Fox’s Geraldo grilling the police chief of Aruba in the Caribbean as to the missing blond American teenager Natalee Holloway. He was in his face practically yelling at him. Where was he talking to Cheney like that? It’s hard to measure but it’s plausible that those who watch cable news know less about substantive national and international events than they did before its heralded coming. One study actually demonstrated the more people watch TV news the less they knew.
Jeff Cohen is founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), the New York-based media watch group. His columns appear on commondreams.org and other websites. He’s author of The Way Things Aren’t: Rush Limbaugh’s Reign of Error, and Wizards of Media Oz. His latest book is Cable News Confidential.