The Debate Web

The great feature about the blogosphere is that everyone has an equal voice. Of course that’s the great problem too. Because, let’s face it: A whole lot of people who spout off online are cyberspace cadets. They have no Earthly idea what they’re talking about.

So now we come to the CNN-YouTube-debate debate: The Internet faithful are going bonkers. How dare CNN for insisting on deciding which questions to ask? That should be left up to a popular vote.

It’s hard to argue that the traditional media have often frittered away their credibility. They are frequently at the same time establishment elitists and panderers with their incessant coverage of trivialities like Paris Hilton.

My Challenge to GE: Time for Cable News That Respects the American People

As a long-term investor in General Electric, this morning I contacted the office of the corporate secretary to the board of directors and sent a letter to be forwarded to the full board. I called for General Electric to put MSNBC up for sale, in a public auction, and to consider offers that are significantly above the current market value of MSNBC.

In the future I might well invite other citizens who might own GE stock (check your own stock and retirement portfolios) to join in a formal shareholder action.

While countless Americans feel disenfranchised and often insulted by current cable news, all shareholders have the right to support formal resolutions that would require change, and to publicly address questions to management and the board of directors at annual meetings.

Making Talk Radio Fair and Balanced

There are two sides to every issue. Unless, of course, you’re a conservative.

For conservatives, there’s only one side to every issue — and only one point of view that should ever be heard on the airwaves.

Conservatives, in fact, are panicking over a talk radio study released by the Center for American Progress that shows that there are nine hours of right-wing talk radio for every one hour of progressive talk.

Nobody disputes the accuracy of the Center’s findings. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, conservatives are afraid the FCC might take action. So Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence has introduced in Congress what he calls the “Broadcaster Freedom Act” — which bans the FCC from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine — and he claims to be picking up lots of cosponsors among fellow Republicans.

Media Hustles

Am I wrong or do you agree that Paris Hilton would be a terrific TV anchorwoman? I mean, she has what it takes: She's blond. And she clearly has the intellect for it.

Yes, I know. That was a cheap shot. But cheap shots seem to be all around us. Take the New York Times and its series on Rupert Murdoch.

Far be it for me to defend his media. But the charges that they pander more than report are old news. And so are the accusations that Murdoch compromises them in the name of his business interests.

But here we have the New York Times fitting into print a series that regurgitates those charges just when Rupert Murdoch just HAPPENS to be involved in a bidding struggle to obtain one of the Times's main competitors. What an amazing coincidence. What an opening for Murdoch's people to claim that the reports were examples of precisely the same conduct they were alleging. 

The Remote Control

I don’t usually write about stuff that affects my clients, but today I have to get something off my chest.

This is not on behalf of my client (Newscorp), so what I say right now is not in any way, shape or form reflective of any position they may take.

In this day and age, with the approval ratings of the Congress, I think it is absolutely insane for any member of Congress to advocate taking the remote control away from the public. I don’t care if it is in defense of children. (And yes, I have a small child.)

We are the undisputed world leader in entertainment. If you go to any other country in the world, they first look at our stuff before they turn on their stuff.

You know why? Because government has stayed the hell out of it. 

Journalists and Campaign Checks Don’t Mix

Jesse Unruh, legendary Speaker of the California Assembly, once famously said: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

And that’s true. But it doesn’t mean that everybody has to give milk. Some people, in fact, shouldn’t give milk, including priests, nuns, convicted felons — and journalists!

But, clearly, that feeling’s not universal. Upon researching candidate financial reports, MSNBC discovered that 144 journalists — most with the knowledge and blessing of their media bosses — had actually made campaign contributions: 125 to Democrats; 17 to Republicans; and 2 to candidates of both parties.

Uh-oh, here comes that old chestnut about “the liberal media” again! But, the point here is not whether the media is liberal or conservative. The point is: Journalists should not be writing campaign checks to anybody. Period.

Target, Target, Target

Move over, network TV. Step aside, major dailies. Talk radio — beware. Cable news is taking over. And the Web ain’t far behind.

No doubt about it, cable news is in. The recent issue of Adweek had an interesting survey about where Americans get their news on politics. The days of the major newspapers, Walter Cronkite-style anchors, and radio personalities dominating political news are over.

When asked “Where do you get most of your political information?” cable TV leads with 30 percent, followed by network TV with 22 percent, the Web at 19 percent and print media at 17 percent. Network radio is way down at 5 percent.

True Blue: Who Knew?

It doesn’t really matter that Democrats won back control of Congress; most Americans still prefer Republican ideals. Or, as Brit Hume pronounced on election night 2006, “from what we could see from all the polling and everything else, it remains a conservative country.” Oh, yeah?

That’s the conventional wisdom we hear from the mainstream media. And now we know it’s absolute bunk. A new study by Media Matters for America and the Campaign for America’s Future shows that on most issues, across the board, Americans are true-blue liberals ... and much more liberal than most members of Congress.

News Blues

I attended an awards dinner last night put on by the Society of Professional Journalists and came away with a number of questions:

1) In TV news, is it really only a choice between buffoonery and news from the crypt? Why is it so often a choice between Paris Hilton and something akin to watching paint dry?

2) In print: Actually, the questions are the same.

3) Why do we spend so much time aiming coverage at people barely past puberty, who couldn't care less anyway? (And yes, this is sour grapes. I am more than barely past puberty.)

Daring to Dream

I agree with Brent. Paris Hilton has got to go.

I feel as though this is déjà vu all over again — didn’t I rail against cable going crazy over the Anna Nicole Smith fiasco in a previous blog?

On Saturday, Pat Buchanan, Alex Witt and I did our usual Saturday morning bit on MSNBC and talked about immigration. But I couldn’t hold my tongue. They had just bumped Tucker Carlson the night before for “breaking news” on Paris Hilton, and all cable shows were competing for “the story.” My line was something to the effect that we had just been talking about 12 million people whose lives were hanging in the balance, yet nearly all the coverage was about one spoiled brat.