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Olbermann, O'Reilly and the death of real news


DaneykoIsGod

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/12/AR2010111202857.html

And so, among the many benefits we have come to believe the founding fathers intended for us, the latest is news we can choose. 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.

Maybe this only interests me because I studied journalism and worked in newspapers, but Koppel absolutely crushes the nail right on the head. And it's a fvcking tragedy.

Excellent read.

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My link

Here's a good rebuttal.

I don't think much of the O'Reilly's and Olberman's of the world, but what we have now is much better than a three network oligopoly that dictated what was news and what wasn't.

Case in point is Walter Kronkite calling Vietnam unwinnable after Tet. Maybe he was right, maybe he was wrong (for reasons not worth getting into, he was wrong). It's much better, however, to be able to change the channel and find someone who could tell you why he was wrong, even if that person happens to be a loud mouth jerk.

And in any event, any journalist who claims to be non-partisan or objective is either incredibly dense or a liar (and probably both).

People wanting to hear what they want to hear? While not ideal, it's better than being told what to think by some aging fossil.

Edited by Daniel
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Don't you see what that rebuttal is? Slate is owned by the Washington Post. The Koppel column was in the Washington Post. By having one of their own publish a rebuttal, the Post is doubling their traffic. In TV terms, they're getting the ratings for both FOX News and MSNBC. Brilliant!

:doh1:

And Jack Shafer trying to throw stones at Ted Koppel's journalistic integrity is a laugh. This guy edited and published a story about ... get this ... monkey fishing! And he did so without blinking an eye. Turns out the whole darned thing was 100% fiction. Of course, Shafer didn't write it. The since-disgraced Jay Forman did. But as an editor, if your writer hands in a story about ... brace yourself again ... monkey fishing(!) ... you've gotta do a little more than say, "You need a comma here. Other than that, excellent journalistic work!" Instead, he had a colorful piece about ... one more time ... MONKEY FISHING(!!) ... and threw it out there hoping to grab some readers. This guy is gonna call Koppel an "ambulance-chaser" and link him to Balloon Boy-type sensationalist news coverage? Gimme a break.

Anyway, enough partisan-like bickering. Let's get down to brass tacks. The Slate column cites a Socolow paper that shows that TV news actually pulled in some serious revenue in yesteryear. The Time link confirms it. But neither of these sources, nor the Slate column itself, mentions the costs or profits of these news programs. Sure, The Huntley-Brinkley Report pulled in a ton of money in the mid-'60s. But part of Koppel's original point about foreign bureaus is that the news, when done properly, is a expensive business. Per-minute, the show only pulled in 1/3rd of the ad revenue Bonanza got. But as a news program, it ran five nights a week, 52 weeks a year. That piled that otherwise humble ad revenue high, but for those 260 shows it needed to pay for on-screen talent, behind-the-camera crews, writers, directors, producers, field correspondents and fully-staffed foreign bureaus around the globe. It's a pricey venture. Nowhere in the Slate column does it come out and say that those TV news shows pulled a profit. Who knows, maybe they did pull a profit. It still doesn't detract from what Koppel was saying.

What Koppel was saying is that objective journalism on TV seems to be dead. He also says -- and I even quoted the part where he said it -- that 100% objectivity is impossible. But you've gotta at least try. It may not have been perfect in the past, but it was a lot closer to the middle of the road than what we have now. All the news tries to do now is pander to its audience. It reinforces what people already believe, rather than inform them and challenge them. What we're left with is a viewing public more embattled with people who wear donkey pins instead of elephant pins, or visa versa, instead of an informed public.

The news is no longer the news. It's entertainment, feeding people what they want, rather than what they need. That was Koppel's point. Whether or not TV news turned a profit before 60 Minutes doesn't really change that.

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Don't you see what that rebuttal is? Slate is owned by the Washington Post. The Koppel column was in the Washington Post. By having one of their own publish a rebuttal, the Post is doubling their traffic. In TV terms, they're getting the ratings for both FOX News and MSNBC. Brilliant!

:doh1:

And Jack Shafer trying to throw stones at Ted Koppel's journalistic integrity is a laugh. This guy edited and published a story about ... get this ... monkey fishing! And he did so without blinking an eye. Turns out the whole darned thing was 100% fiction. Of course, Shafer didn't write it. The since-disgraced Jay Forman did. But as an editor, if your writer hands in a story about ... brace yourself again ... monkey fishing(!) ... you've gotta do a little more than say, "You need a comma here. Other than that, excellent journalistic work!" Instead, he had a colorful piece about ... one more time ... MONKEY FISHING(!!) ... and threw it out there hoping to grab some readers. This guy is gonna call Koppel an "ambulance-chaser" and link him to Balloon Boy-type sensationalist news coverage? Gimme a break.

Anyway, enough partisan-like bickering. Let's get down to brass tacks. The Slate column cites a Socolow paper that shows that TV news actually pulled in some serious revenue in yesteryear. The Time link confirms it. But neither of these sources, nor the Slate column itself, mentions the costs or profits of these news programs. Sure, The Huntley-Brinkley Report pulled in a ton of money in the mid-'60s. But part of Koppel's original point about foreign bureaus is that the news, when done properly, is a expensive business. Per-minute, the show only pulled in 1/3rd of the ad revenue Bonanza got. But as a news program, it ran five nights a week, 52 weeks a year. That piled that otherwise humble ad revenue high, but for those 260 shows it needed to pay for on-screen talent, behind-the-camera crews, writers, directors, producers, field correspondents and fully-staffed foreign bureaus around the globe. It's a pricey venture. Nowhere in the Slate column does it come out and say that those TV news shows pulled a profit. Who knows, maybe they did pull a profit. It still doesn't detract from what Koppel was saying.

What Koppel was saying is that objective journalism on TV seems to be dead. He also says -- and I even quoted the part where he said it -- that 100% objectivity is impossible. But you've gotta at least try. It may not have been perfect in the past, but it was a lot closer to the middle of the road than what we have now. All the news tries to do now is pander to its audience. It reinforces what people already believe, rather than inform them and challenge them. What we're left with is a viewing public more embattled with people who wear donkey pins instead of elephant pins, or visa versa, instead of an informed public.

The news is no longer the news. It's entertainment, feeding people what they want, rather than what they need. That was Koppel's point. Whether or not TV news turned a profit before 60 Minutes doesn't really change that.

You still have the nightly network news, which pulls in significantly more viewers than Fox News and MSNBC combined. I suppose Koppel won't call that "objective" since network news doesn't have the wise old sages like Koppel telling people what to think, which is the point that fossils like Koppel entirely miss. I'd also add that the idea that journalists are supposed to be "objective" is a relatively recent phenomenon, and is particularly unique to the United States. In Europe you have the liberal newspaper and the conservative newspaper. They wear their biases on their sleaves, which is much better than bogus claims of objectivity. And while the Fox News's of the world use marketing slogans like "fair and balanced", even the most diehard conservatives aren't so deluded to think that it is anything other than a conservative news network.

News as entertainment? Again, Koppel misses the point. There certainly is the OPTION to tune in to shows like that, but, for those who want it, "serious" news (whatever the hell that is) is widely, and I would argue more, available than it ever was (internet access probably allows more people to read publications like the NY Times than ever before).

While I'm sure Koppel and other purportedly "objective" journalists, journalism professors, et al. are very nice people, they have to get off their high horses, and stop thinking that they're somehow these mythical protectors of democracy. They aren't and never were.

Otherwise you come close to conceding that network news wasn't a money loser, only that it didn't make as much money as sitcoms and the like. Well that's a surprise. Believe me, network executives with shareholders to please did not run the nightly news and handsomely reward network anchors out of some patriotic calling to create a more informed citizenry.

Bottom line, Ted Koppel get over yourself.

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The "Big 3" CBS , NBC, & ABC were broadcasting liberal points of view for their entire history. It was so ingrained (sic?) on the public's psyche that revisionists (and those involved, like Koppel) seem to take their liberal twist as the "norm", when it was no such thing. So when Fox News shows up and their 'news' division, which is extremelty fair and balanced, is linked in with their couple of partisans, Hannity and........Hannity........the left goes crazy that they have the audacity to give a non-liberal viewpoint along with their liberal view point.

Fox News is what it says, news.........not a partisan witch hunt like the "Big 3" and MSNBC.

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The "Big 3" CBS , NBC, & ABC were broadcasting liberal points of view for their entire history. It was so ingrained (sic?) on the public's psyche that revisionists (and those involved, like Koppel) seem to take their liberal twist as the "norm", when it was no such thing. So when Fox News shows up and their 'news' division, which is extremelty fair and balanced, is linked in with their couple of partisans, Hannity and........Hannity........the left goes crazy that they have the audacity to give a non-liberal viewpoint along with their liberal view point.

Fox News is what it says, news.........not a partisan witch hunt like the "Big 3" and MSNBC.

lol

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Ha, laugh all you want.........no one is watching them anymore and dinosaurs like that disappear. You should probably take you head out of your arse and look around a little.

lol

I don't watch cable news. I read & make my own decisions. The only time I see cable news is when Stewart or Colbert rip it apart for being completely bogus.

These are companies that sell ads in order to make money. Fox does a great job at that. Objectivity and accuracy get in the way of ad dollars.

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The "Big 3" CBS , NBC, & ABC were broadcasting liberal points of view for their entire history. It was so ingrained (sic?) on the public's psyche that revisionists (and those involved, like Koppel) seem to take their liberal twist as the "norm", when it was no such thing. So when Fox News shows up and their 'news' division, which is extremelty fair and balanced, is linked in with their couple of partisans, Hannity and........Hannity........the left goes crazy that they have the audacity to give a non-liberal viewpoint along with their liberal view point.

Fox News is what it says, news.........not a partisan witch hunt like the "Big 3" and MSNBC.

What is the color of the sky in your world? A nice green maybe? People dislike Fox because they lie in order to push their conservative agenda. While MSNBC, CNN, etc may have some liberal commentators their entire network is not based on pushing liberal policy and helping the Democratic Party. Fox News is an extension of the Republican Party.

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And while the Fox News's of the world use marketing slogans like "fair and balanced", even the most diehard conservatives aren't so deluded to think that it is anything other than a conservative news network.

News as entertainment?

Apparently not :lol:

I know he's only a radio sports guy generally, but Colin Cowherd has a saying that I very much agree with, "It's not information. It's affirmation," usually referring to "the King of the talk radio medium," Rush Limbaugh. I don't think people want to be entertained while finding news, they want their beliefs to be affirmed.

Suppose that I'm an ardent Democrat and John Boehner appears on the channel that I'm watching to give a big speech about the incoming congress. Am I going to listen to him tell me why policies that I've never agreed with will make the country much better off in the coming years? I'll probably change the channel, then tomorrow, I'll listen to my pundit of choice, like Ed Schultz, highlight the weak, inconsistent parts of the speech, or the parts that are abhorrent under my, already-in-place belief system. You could draw up another likely scenario by simply substituting conservative, Obama speech, and Sean Hannity into the appropriate spots above.

Getting information from multiple sides is difficult though, and I don't mean from a practical standpoint. I mean when one voice says, "The healthcare bill will reduce the deficit, and here's how," while another says, "Presidents are almost never right about these razor-thin deficit cutting measures, here are examples," where does that leave me? I get news from Google News, which just pulls article from all over the place, and NY Post and NY Times articles, XM America Left and XM Patriot (I don't get why they call it that), so I do face this dilemma. It's better than the reverse though: living someplace where I don't inform myself because it doesn't matter what I think.

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What is the color of the sky in your world? A nice green maybe? People dislike Fox because they lie in order to push their conservative agenda. While MSNBC, CNN, etc may have some liberal commentators their entire network is not based on pushing liberal policy and helping the Democratic Party. Fox News is an extension of the Republican Party.

Written by a person who said they'd rather die then have a terrorist waterboarded :rofl:

The "people" that dislike Fox are lefty zealots like you who can't get a clear thought going without it being drummed in your head by fellow lefties, and the weak minded, also like yourself, that cannot differentiate between fact or fiction.

What is funny is you write, MSNBC "may" have some liberal commentators. You lost the zilch credibility you never had, again. Stop bobbing your head up and down, and moving your wrist in and out when you watch Olbermann

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It's better than the reverse though: living someplace where I don't inform myself because it doesn't matter what I think.

It's also better than having three networks, that basically cover the same thing, deciding what's news and what isn't. I'm sure Fox News, MSNBC and CNN do the same thing, but the more options that are out there, the more likely it is that one will get additional information on whatever topics they're interested in.

Monopolies are bad, and even worse when it's the media. Kopell and the like fail to see that.

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It's also better than having three networks, that basically cover the same thing, deciding what's news and what isn't. I'm sure Fox News, MSNBC and CNN do the same thing, but the more options that are out there, the more likely it is that one will get additional information on whatever topics they're interested in.

Monopolies are bad, and even worse when it's the media. Kopell and the like fail to see that.

Well there were always other places to turn to for information. They just weren't on television.

I know that before my time there was something called the "Fairness Doctrine," but as ideal as it sounds, I'm not sure how one goes about forcing news outlets to be "fair."

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Well there were always other places to turn to for information. They just weren't on television.

I know that before my time there was something called the "Fairness Doctrine," but as ideal as it sounds, I'm not sure how one goes about forcing news outlets to be "fair."

The fairness doctrine is also quite pernicious in that it injects the government into regulating the content of speech. That cure is worse than the disease, even if you think there's a disease in the first place.

And just because there are other options in different types of media, doesn't mean you should clamp down on the options in one particular media just because some self-annointed elite feels it's debased.

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You still have the nightly network news, which pulls in significantly more viewers than Fox News and MSNBC combined. I suppose Koppel won't call that "objective" since network news doesn't have the wise old sages like Koppel telling people what to think, which is the point that fossils like Koppel entirely miss. I'd also add that the idea that journalists are supposed to be "objective" is a relatively recent phenomenon, and is particularly unique to the United States. In Europe you have the liberal newspaper and the conservative newspaper. They wear their biases on their sleaves, which is much better than bogus claims of objectivity. And while the Fox News's of the world use marketing slogans like "fair and balanced", even the most diehard conservatives aren't so deluded to think that it is anything other than a conservative news network.

News as entertainment? Again, Koppel misses the point. There certainly is the OPTION to tune in to shows like that, but, for those who want it, "serious" news (whatever the hell that is) is widely, and I would argue more, available than it ever was (internet access probably allows more people to read publications like the NY Times than ever before).

While I'm sure Koppel and other purportedly "objective" journalists, journalism professors, et al. are very nice people, they have to get off their high horses, and stop thinking that they're somehow these mythical protectors of democracy. They aren't and never were.

Otherwise you come close to conceding that network news wasn't a money loser, only that it didn't make as much money as sitcoms and the like. Well that's a surprise. Believe me, network executives with shareholders to please did not run the nightly news and handsomely reward network anchors out of some patriotic calling to create a more informed citizenry.

Bottom line, Ted Koppel get over yourself.

Oh my God, who cares?

Look, if you wanna take issue with Koppel coming off as "holier than thou", great, go ahead, have fun. I don't care. If you wanna talk about the profit lines of old TV news, knock yourself out. I. Don't. Give. A. Sh!t.

What I DO care about is MSNBC and FOX News pissing all over journalism's first and foremost tennant: objectivity. That's Koppel's primary point, and that's why I shared this link. It's hard to argue against (unless you're tits-deep in your party's Kool-Aid like Jimmy). Olbermann confirmed it with his retort:

The utter falsehood and dishonesty of the process by which this country was committed to the wrong war, by which this country was committed to dishonesty, by which this country was committed to torture – about that, Mr. Koppel and everybody else in the dead, objective television news business that he laments, about that, where were they? Worshipping the false god of objectivity.

Basically, he said "Blah blah blah, Republicans are evil, blah blah blah, objective journalists let the Republicans do all these evil things, look at me, look at me, I'm not an attention whore, I'm a patriot." And that's pretty much the stupidest thing anyone in the industry possibly could have said. Of course, this is coming from the guy who doesn't understand what a conflict of interest is, so ...

But anyway, sure, there are options. Watch the nightly network news. Read newspapers. Read online. Whatever. A lot of them are very good at what they do. Almost all U.S. news sources lean at least a little left, but it isn't anything that someone with half a brain can't look/read past. But MSNBC and FOX News have whored out the trade. That, to me, is a cardinal sin. If you're entrusted to inform the public, then you should inform the public. Bring the straight news and allow the public to form their own opinions. That's what journalism is supposed to be all about.

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But anyway, sure, there are options. Watch the nightly network news. Read newspapers. Read online. Whatever. A lot of them are very good at what they do. Almost all U.S. news sources lean at least a little left, but it isn't anything that someone with half a brain can't look/read past. But MSNBC and FOX News have whored out the trade. That, to me, is a cardinal sin. If you're entrusted to inform the public, then you should inform the public. Bring the straight news and allow the public to form their own opinions. That's what journalism is supposed to be all about.

The Fox News's and MSNBC's have been around for a long time, just in different media. It was called yellow journalism at the turn of the 20th century (and there's an award named after the guy who started it).

They don't represent some strain on the republic, and I'm not quite sure who "entrusted" them to inform the public. (That's not a semantic point either.) They're two cable networks that spout opinionated, and often sensational, takes on current events while drawing a relatively modest audience at any given time. The threat they pose is on par with tainted Halloween candy.

But if all your saying is, I don't like them and don't understand why anyone else but some boob would, then that's just like your opinion man.

Edited by Daniel
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Fox News news division is straight down the middle. You guys should have issues with Hannity, who is a clear partisan.

The "straight" news program with Brit Hume is decent, and I'll watch it on occasion. Still, it undoubtedly has a conservative slant (they throw in the token liberal in the debate part of the program at the end).

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They don't represent some strain on the republic, and I'm not quite sure who "entrusted" them to inform the public. (That's not a semantic point either.) They're two cable networks that spout opinionated, and often sensational, takes on current events while drawing a relatively modest audience at any given time. The threat they pose is on par with tainted Halloween candy.

This would all be fine if they called themselves "The Democrat Channel" and "The Republical Channel." But they don't. They call themselves the news. And the news IS a public trust. It's up to the media to keep the public informed and thus keep politicians honest. Once "the news" picks a side, that trust is betrayed. And once someone who works for "the news" financially backs a political candidate or two, forget about it. It's over.

Imagine if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein worked for FOX News. Watergate would just be a hotel in DC. Hell, they probably woulda helped fund Nixon's campaign.

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This would all be fine if they called themselves "The Democrat Channel" and "The Republical Channel." But they don't. They call themselves the news. And the news IS a public trust. It's up to the media to keep the public informed and thus keep politicians honest. Once "the news" picks a side, that trust is betrayed. And once someone who works for "the news" financially backs a political candidate or two, forget about it. It's over.

Imagine if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein worked for FOX News. Watergate would just be a hotel in DC. Hell, they probably woulda helped fund Nixon's campaign.

On the flip side, can't you argue that, imagine all the stories that didn't become big because network news decided they weren't a big deal back in the day? We'll never know if there were big stories that were killed because network news was personally invested in one side of the story.

Or, as a different type of example, would we have found out about Rathergate if the network news had been the only sources allowed to do a story? There is a good chance we wouldn't have, "the news" would have truthfully reported the news as far as we all knew, as long as "the news" kept telling us it was truthful.

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The "Big 3" CBS , NBC, & ABC were broadcasting liberal points of view for their entire history. It was so ingrained (sic?) on the public's psyche that revisionists (and those involved, like Koppel) seem to take their liberal twist as the "norm", when it was no such thing. So when Fox News shows up and their 'news' division, which is extremelty fair and balanced, is linked in with their couple of partisans, Hannity and........Hannity........the left goes crazy that they have the audacity to give a non-liberal viewpoint along with their liberal view point.

Fox News is what it says, news.........not a partisan witch hunt like the "Big 3" and MSNBC.

LMAO

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Imagine if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein worked for FOX News. Watergate would just be a hotel in DC. Hell, they probably woulda helped fund Nixon's campaign.

I'll quote Jerry Seinfeld's response to George Costanza about De Soto discovering the Mississippi... "yeah like they wouldn't have found that anyway". Deepthroat would have just decided to go to a journalist at the Nation, the New Yorker or wherever, had there only have been a partisan press.

But again, you're completely overhyping the domination of the news that Fox and MSNBC supposedly have. They are cable news networks that trot out dopey partisan talking head loudmouths, and admittedly sometimes have interesting stuff to report. They don't dominate anything, and the number of viewers is dwarfed by the viewers of network news and most likely the circulation of the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. (As an aside, this Fox News obsession that liberals have is one of the most baffling phenomena of recent years).

And like I've said, this is nothing new. And actually partisan journalism has actually been the norm both in this country and abroad.

This whole debate reminds me of the constant lament how politics used to not be so partisan or vicious. Was never the case, same as there was never a golden age of journalism.

ADDENDUM: If you actually want to find a villain in the supposed decline of serious journalism, I wouldn't look to cable news, but instead the fluff network morning shows like the Today Show, which, when they manage to get interviews with politicians throw huge softballs. They draw a lot more viewers and are more influential than anything on cable tv.

Edited by Daniel
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False.

Gee, you must be right 'cause your brainwashed fingers typed it so.

Open your eyes.

LMAO

What took so long for your pearls of wisdom?

Sheep.

But again, you're completely overhyping the domination of the news that Fox and MSNBC supposedly have. They are cable news networks that trot out dopey partisan talking head loudmouths, and admittedly sometimes have interesting stuff to report. They don't dominate anything, and the number of viewers is dwarfed by the viewers of network news and most likely the circulation of the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

Fox News beat EVERYONE including the "Big Lib 3" this past election night.

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