Monday, July 26, 2010

All news, all evening

A piece in the New Yorker wonders why CNN's ratings in evening prime time aren't so hot. I had to stop and think: Why the hell would people watch news and commentary all evening long -- isn't the evening a time to relax and be entertained?

And then I realized -- it's because prime time network programming, the dramas, comedies and variety which people have watched for the last fifty years, is so bad that cable TV news and commentary is entertainment. And Fox and, to a lesser extent, MSNBC, are eating CNN's lunch simply because they're more entertaining. Some dipshit shooting his mouth off is more entertaining than serious reporting, and that's why we have Fox and MSNBC, not to mention talk radio's domination of the medium, at all.

The movie Network, with what seemed in 1976 like an over-the-top prediction of news as entertainment, becomes more prescient every year. Most people simply remember it for the slogan "I'm mad as hell..." but what it was really about was the degradation of network news into entertainment. This post on the website of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting compares the film's Howard Beale, "a fictional TV host famous for undergoing an on-air emotional disintegration," with Fox's Glenn Beck.

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