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Cory writes: "The fact that news has become a product for sale is not new, nor is the fact that media has embraced celebrity over content and corporate sponsors over substance, and mindless entertainment over education and illumination. Edward R. Murrow warned of these things in his RTNDA Convention in 1958. And now, 54 years later, it echoes with immediacy as though written yesterday."

Edward R. Murrow responds to attacks by Senator Joseph McCarthy, 04/13/54. (photo: CBS)
Edward R. Murrow responds to attacks by Senator Joseph McCarthy, 04/13/54. (photo: CBS)



The Ugly Circus

John Cory, Reader Supported News

19 February 12


Reader Supported News | Perspective

 

Our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us.
-- Edward R. Murrow, 1958

n a recent article, Barbra Streisand asked: Where Is The Fourth Estate When You Need Them?

Well Ms. Streisand, they ran away from home and joined the ugly circus of pundit shows and cable news, with big floppy shoes and red rubber-ball noses and lots of money in the trunks of their clown cars.

There are good and great journalists out there who have and do take their profession seriously and honestly, and for whom fact and perspective is important. I think many of these journalists would also tell you that they had to fight like hell to get management to support their story, and then win corporate over to publish and/or air their story. I am thinking of Seymour Hersh, Amy Goodman, Chris Hedges and Bill Moyers among many others.

The fact that news has become a product for sale is not new, nor is the fact that media has embraced celebrity over content and corporate sponsors over substance, and mindless entertainment over education and illumination. Edward R. Murrow warned of these things in his RTNDA Convention speech in 1958. And now, 54 years later, it echoes with immediacy as though written yesterday.

Television news is an ugly circus of innuendo, gossip and tabloid sensationalism. Whether ABC or CBS or NBC, the news is read by celebrity personalities between self-promotional appearances on late-night talk shows.

The nightly news is anything but news. Seven minutes of shallowness, two car chases, the latest celebrity divorce/trial/book/or murder-mystery followed by a feel good human-interest story. Information, elucidation and perspective are sacrificed for pharmaceutical elixirs of youth and sex, insurance lizards, and the latest in-dash tracking system that monitors and synchs up with your Blackberry/iPhone with a voice that guides your every waking movement and thought. Everything you don't need and can't possibly afford but must have.

Cable news is nothing more than nightly WWE cage matches between hot-air blowhards and giggling snark. Yes, I'm talking liberal and conservative programming.

I don't want to be entertained. I read books or go to the movies for that. And, I might add, they do a much better job than anything on cable news. Why sometimes, movies and books even make me think.

FOX News Channel is pure unadulterated propaganda for the far right. I don't care whether it's morning, noon or night, that's what I see and hear. And that is certainly their right, as it is my right to dislike their product and not watch.

MSNBC and now Current TV seem to think that they must be the anti-FOX by imitating the FOX formula with a splash of snark and sarcasm and calling it "liberal TV." And in my opinion, they are failing stupendously.

How, you ask?

If you host comedians as guest panelists to analyze the other tribe's culture war statements or perform skits in spacesuits or title segments after School House Rock segments or feud with bad-hair rich guys to prove how smart you are, or obsessively cover some Republican sex scandal while people try to understand healthcare reform - then you fail. You fail me, you fail the seriousness of what is happening in the very real world that the rest of us live in, and you deserve not to be taken seriously. Talking down to me to show how smart you are or simply yelling at the other tribe or making fun of ignorance does not illuminate or educate. All it does is keep the tribal wars going for the sake of ratings and your own ego-driven millionaire status. Good for you - bad for US.

Let me ask viewers of these programs, what do you know about education reform issues? Is the teacher's union to blame for bad schools? Do you think student test scores are the lowest of the low? That our kids ain't learnin' nothin'?

Did you know that according to the2011 NAEP report on mathematics, the "gold standard" of student testing, that: "Both fourth- and eighth-graders score higher in 2011 than in previous assessment years." That's what it says in the Executive Summary right at the beginning of the report. You can get your copy of the report here. When the report says higher scores than in previous years that means since 1990 when they first began this math and reading test. Twenty years.

On page 12 the report says that White, Black and Hispanic students have made gains - but that gaps persist. In fact, it states that there were larger gains from 1990 to 2011 for Blacks than for Whites. And by the way, "the 20-point gap between White and Hispanic students in 2011 was not significantly different from the gap in either 2009 or 1990."

The report details lots of progress and lots of problems, and I am no expert in breaking it all down and disaggregating the data to provide any insightful analysis. But if I had a nightly TV show and could bring experts together to discuss this, I'd ask the following questions:

  1. If, as this report states, there has been very real gains in student scores over the past 20 years, doesn't that speak well of the quality and hard work of teachers?

  2. If Black and Hispanic students are making progress, what can we do to help them close that 20-point gap?

  3. What are the causes of that gap? Language? Home? Cultural environment? Income? Safety? Hunger?

  4. What is the responsibility of the community, state and federal government?

And then I'd ask some questions about the test-score cheating scandals under the former Chancellor of Public Education for DC, Michelle Rhee, or the cheating in Georgia and Texas. How many other states? Is this driven by teaching to a test?

Has any one of the liberal programs dedicated a whole show to such a thing?

And what about healthcare in this country?

Where is the liberal host that offers an in-depth examination as to why Americans pay $7800 per person for healthcare with the same or worse results of other OECD countries that pay $2800-$4800 per person per year? Are Americans being ripped off? Where does all that money go? Why do Americans pay double or three times the amount other countries pay for the same pills and procedures?

Surely there are real experts for a panel to discuss these issues, and I don't mean talking-head partisans or corporate shills. How about a panel consisting of Maggie Mahaar, author of "Money-Driven Medicine," Jonathon Cohn, author of "Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis," and others who would deal with why America is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not offer its citizens universal healthcare. And how much could we save through preventative care?

Does being born in the wealthiest country in the world simply mean: Welcome to the world. You're on your own now so goodbye and good luck! Sickness is a profit center with potentially high profit margins. Do your part and shop well!

Of course this would require a network and sponsors willing to give us, the viewing public, credit for being interested in learning and understanding the issues. That would empower us and make us - informed.

That's bad for corporate-owned pundits, bad for corporate-owned networks and their corporate sponsors, and even worse for corporate-owned politicians. An informed public is just plain bad all the way around for our would-be masters and their court jesters.

People say all the time that we are an Attention Deficit Disorder society. The media says that they only give the public what they want. None of that is true. The corporate media simply wants to think they have trained us to that end for their profit.

Murrow said: "One of the basic troubles with radio and television news is that both instruments have grown up as an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news. Each of these is a rather bizarre and demanding profession. And when you get all three under one roof, the dust never settles ..."

And there is the nub of cable television news. The dust never settles. It is a prizefight. Three minute rounds, a bell, a commercial or three, a preview of coming attractions and then -DING!- Time for the next round.

The feud between Lawrence O'Donnell and Donald Trump or Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly would be laughable if we were in high school and not real life. Performing skits in spacesuits and giggles about sex scandals while giving out cocktail recipes is more than just disappointment of high hopes, Rachel. I understand that all of this is tribal war and your bosses profit from aligning the tribes and providing much-wanted entertainment space for sponsors. It is and has become, I say with great apology to the wonderful writer Sherman Alexie, nothing more than a nightly Lone Ranger and Tonto fistfight in heaven.

But as Murrow pointed out: "If Hollywood were to run out of Indians, the program schedules would be mangled beyond all recognition. Then some courageous soul with a small budget might be able to do a documentary telling what, in fact, we have done - and are still doing - to the Indians in this country. But that would be unpleasant. And we must at all costs shield the sensitive citizens from anything that is unpleasant."

The airwaves and the print media are an ugly circus of ugly entertainment.

It should be remembered that Murrow's speech was not to the public, but given to his peers and the industry for which he worked. He believed that the public was smarter and more intelligent than the industrial-media-complex gave them credit for. He believed that information presented calmly and fairly would illuminate instead of agitate, and that the public would benefit from such knowledge. He believed in we, the people.

In his 1951 This I Believe program, Murrow set what I believe should be the standard for any hour-long news/pundit show: "Perhaps we should warn you that there is one thing you won't read, and that is a pat answer for the problems of life. We don't pretend to make this a spiritual or psychological patent-medicine chest where one can come and get a pill of wisdom, to be swallowed like an aspirin, to banish the headaches of our times."

Or I suppose we could just keep watching the ugly circus.

- PEACE -


Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

Comments   

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+67 # LeeBlack 2012-02-19 09:14
Another prescient voice, way back in '76, was Paddy Chayefsky when he wrote the script for 'Network'. He recognized that when news became a money maker instead of a community obligation this would happen.

We need to find some way to support those who continue to do real reporting.
 
 
+1 # itchyvet 2012-02-19 19:02
All such reporters need to do, is establish a web site and publish their news therein, requesting annual fees from subscribers.
The media IS at hand.
 
 
+50 # artful 2012-02-19 09:24
Thank you. Your article describes perfectly why we stopped watching all TV news. When Bill Moyers left the air, that was the end of our TV public information programming. Now, we get our news in a disaggregated fashion by reading the Charlotte Observer, the Sunday New York Times, and subscribing via the Internet to the BBC, the A(Australian)BC , the C(Canadian)BC, The Thai-India News, the Manchester Guardian, the Online Washington Post, NYTimes, Miami Herald, Reader Supported News, Salon, Slate, the Daily Beast . . . and on and on. Yes, it requires much sorting and digesting. Yes, it is time consuming, and No we don't wind up claiming to be experts on subjects such as National Health Insurance, or Teaching to the Test. Yes, we watch Stewart and Colbert, but we actually regard them as comedic entertainers, not news shows.
Professional Journalism is apparently dead, much to our chagrin . . . but there it is. Good Night and Good Luck . . .
 
 
+34 # LeeBlack 2012-02-19 10:14
I too have stopped watching TV news and use other sources. I too consider Stewart a comedian. But so often Stewart says those things that really need to be said. Like last week when he delved into the subject of 'a war against religion in the U.S.' and used comedy to give a lie to that slogan.
 
 
+8 # guerilla green 2012-02-19 15:22
Jon Stewart's high profile allows him to use the power of sarcasm and comedy to shame, but for the real news, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez should be where every progressive looks first. FSTV is the only reason I will suffer having to pay for satellite television. Look for Democracy Now! on FSTV, Link and on the web.
 
 
+12 # psadave 2012-02-19 22:48
Stewart and Colbert did an excellent job educating us on the absurdity of the super-PAC rules and the stupidity of the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United. I'm sure they provide more education to their viewers than Fox News and many other network news shows!
 
 
+7 # NOMINAE 2012-02-20 04:47
@ artful

We can all now take comfort in the fact that Bill Moyers is once again back on the air.

Perhaps this fact will bring the author of this article, John Cory, some relief as well.

However, author John Cory indulges himself in one complaint that is self-solving, given a little personal effort.
When he complains about anchors "talking down to him" - if he means this in terms of vocabulary - then said complaint represents a situation that only Mr. Cory can remedy.

As long as John is blessed with opposable thumbs, and has access to a dictionary, there should be no person living *able* to "talk down to him".

Americans have a dire need to improve their ability to achieve a level of basic "native fluency" in English before demanding that everyone else bring the discussion down to a more "simple" level for the benefit of those who apparently cannot "keep up".

Another mirror to the dumbing down of the national discourse, and a reflection of the abysmal deficit in the output of the current American "education" (as opposed to "indoctrination ") system.

Cronkite and Murrow respected the public simply due to the fact that their public was much better read, informed and educated than the "public" of today. Therefore, Cronkite and Murrow would never have dreamed of "dumbing down" their broadcasts to the level of the "lowest common denominator" out there.
 
 
-5 # Capn Canard 2012-02-19 09:39
Not impressed Mr. Cory. You sound like you are applying for a job to be aired on MSNBC/FOX!(good luck with that, John) The clear gold standard is the trio of BBC, RT, or Al Jazeera, but even they are open to being influenced by those who pay the bills, the powers wealth. The best thing is this mysterious new invention called the Internetz. With a vast exchange of information that is constantly under close scruntiy and dissenting opinions. The networks have been led into a cesspool of stupidity with FOX driving the final nails into the coffin. The major sources can no longer be trusted on much of anything, except how to properly mix a stiff drink...
 
 
0 # wwwes 2012-02-22 04:33
Quoting Capn Canard:
Not impressed Mr. Cory. You sound like you are applying for a job to be aired on MSNBC/FOX!(good luck with that, John) The clear gold standard is the trio of BBC, RT, or Al Jazeera, but even they are open to being influenced by those who pay the bills, the powers wealth. The best thing is this mysterious new invention called the Internetz. With a vast exchange of information that is constantly under close scruntiy and dissenting opinions. The networks have been led into a cesspool of stupidity with FOX driving the final nails into the coffin. The major sources can no longer be trusted on much of anything, except how to properly mix a stiff drink...
I wonder what the "Cap'n" is applying for. I won't waste time reading his smug nothings anymore.
 
 
+19 # angelfish 2012-02-19 10:18
They refer to Edward R. Murrow as "Pinwheel" Ed, these days since he's been Spinning in his grave over what's been done in the name of Journalism today. Thank God we still have a few REAL Journalists left in America today who do not just "read" the News OR manufacture it as some, and we ALL know WHO, DO! No, they actually REPORT the News like Murrow and Cronkite did, letting the Public KNOW what is News and what is Opinion! They even make retractions when they are wrong and Apologize for their Errors! WHAT a Concept! They separate the "wheat" from the "chaff" so unlike "Fixed" News and Murdoch's other rags!
 
 
+18 # James Marcus 2012-02-19 10:25
We, The Sheeple, are being kept deliberately ignorant and misinformed...l est we throw All The Bums Out and re-establish The Republic that Ben Franklin challenged us to keep.
Not only are Media Outlets transmitting numbing propaganda, but the 'Digital Revolution' has enabled 'Virtual Reality ' as never before, and as never actually happened.
What we see (also) is No Longer 'what we get'.
A Perfect Situation ......for Scoundrels..... ..
 
 
+18 # wwway 2012-02-19 10:37
Capn Canard, your hope that the internet would or is providing information over entertainment counters the reality of the rumors and tabloid news by anomymous writers that fill electronic mail boxes around the world every day. For example, the other day I received an anomymously written forward giving medical advice for a heart attack.
I'm reminded that Mark Twain said, "A lie will pass half way around the world while the truth is putting on it's shoes."
Neil Postman wrote a great analysis of how and why Americans have dumbed themselves down in his book, Amusing ourselves to Death. Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.
Consumers will receive the media they want and Democracy ensures that the people will get the government they deserve. Stupid is as stupid does.
 
 
+14 # PaineRad 2012-02-19 12:40
The central problem with the internet is that we select the "news" we want to receive. This self-selection may get us a greater diversity of opinion. But it is more likely to get us more enforcement for our pre-existing opinions and misunderstood myths and legends.
 
 
+9 # reiverpacific 2012-02-19 10:42
I've long held that TV is just a bunch of flavorless stuffing between the main diet of ever lengthier commercials persuading all to go broke on stuff it doesn't need.
I've also pointed out on this site that you have to go to the "alternative" media, mostly low power non-commercial listener-suppor ted community stations to get any substance, which is why most opiated Americans have never heard of Amy Goodman, Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky and other progressive speakers, who should be out there for all to see and hear (but they probably are far too content-rich to be comprehended by the sound-bite attention-span many-headed who form the owner-media audience).
All this is beautifully illustrated in an article I read recently (sorry, don't remember the source) that since the advent of the, in my opinion- mostly appalling "Food Channel", people are actually COOKING LESS and watching more food porn, from Napa to Napoli, probably sat around the fick'rin' screen, coffee tables overflowing with take away Pizza (an aberration in this country) and syrupy soft drinks or tasteless gas called beer here.
By the way, here's a nice piece from Keith Olbermann now departed from MSNBC featuring somebody who actually managed to get through to Rush Limbaugh's show -and this a Republican Marine whom the big R' just was not up to dealing with in any coherent way except by hurling abuse, much like some of the reactionaries who post on RSN betimes
calhttp://youtu.be/RNJ5nn2-2oo
 
 
+10 # lincolnimp 2012-02-19 10:50
I have to think that one of the major culprits in this dumbing down of news reporting has to be the public demand. Most of my friends are far more interested in reading "People" than any magazine or newspaper that ignores celebrity. Of course, this may be partly explained by the "chicken vs. egg" question. Did the media set out to change our tastes to such pedestrian levels, and did we succomb without a fight? I fear that it might have been the other way. Our tastes may have influenced the media at least as much as the media has influenced our tastes. I hang out with a fairly well educated and intelligent bunch of people...nearly all of whom would not miss an episode of "Survivor" for any reason. Did the overnight popularity of "Survivor" (the great grandma of all reality shows) lead the media to climb onto the bandwagon? I think that's worth thinking about. Does blaming the media and absolving the viewer really cut to the chase? Education is also a handy whipping boy for placing blame. It seems we are always looking for someone other than ourselves to blame. "We have met the enemy .... and he is us." -Pogo
 
 
+4 # PaineRad 2012-02-19 13:07
It becomes a vicious circle of dumbed down media following dembed down education leading to dumbed down expectations leading to dumbed down popular culture and everything else.

This really isn't anything terribly new, but it does get worse every year as school curricula get whacked by one wackadoodle group or another and textbooks get censored and as low tax fanatics cut ever more funding from schools and college tuition hikes guarantee that fewer middle-class kids will graduate without massive debt to become peons to corporate Amerika.

It ain't purty out here in the boonies. If we want real news, we have to work at it. The CBC has a comedy show entitled, "This Hour has 22 Minutes". (Although, I think they cut the title to just "22 Minutes" recently.) It is an all too true comment on commercial TV. Sometimes I wonder if there is anything at all there for any minutes every hour.

The more things change, the more they just expand on the way they've always been. The nightly news is still a joke.
 
 
-52 # Joeconserve 2012-02-19 10:56
Excellent article. I'm partial to FOX NEWS because the others seem to have a larger hidden agenda. On any particular news item I can only conclude that something happened but that the details are cloudy. My own experience in various parts of the world tell me not to believe most of what I hear and see.
 
 
+17 # reiverpacific 2012-02-19 13:06
Quoting Joeconserve:
Excellent article. I'm partial to FOX NEWS because the others seem to have a larger hidden agenda. On any particular news item I can only conclude that something happened but that the details are cloudy. My own experience in various parts of the world tell me not to believe most of what I hear and see.

That's because you have a blue filter and blinkers as far as I can see, and since when was Fox and the average American interested in the rest of the world (which I've lived and worked in a good part of also) except as seen through capitalist eyes and for exploitative purposes.
I agree that at least Fox is quite open in their extreme right-wing agenda; no argument there. The rest of commercial TV's agenda is to provide non-challenging sound-bytes and stuff them between commercials.
Hell, the "average" American can't tell you where most US states are geographically, never mind other countries.
You sound very much like a Fox type and are welcome to it.
 
 
+8 # anarchteacher 2012-02-19 11:17
With the death of their paragon Walter Cronkite, the true collective face of the Establishment media was exposed once and for all. It is not the noble visage of an intrepid crusader for truth, but a sagging countenance, oily and obsequent by decades of lying and servility to their masters. But of course this is not how the press perceive themselves. They are not like you or me. They are a special class of beings. They are the Fourth Estate, an imaginary extension of the rigid class structure of pre-Revolutiona ry France from the Estates General. In the Ancien Regime there was the clergy, the nobility, and lastly, the bourgeoisie and commoners. The Fourth Estate see themselves on an equal par with the first two elevated classes, and above the third. It is the aristocratic notion that gentlemen and ladies of the press serve a vaunted "public interest," and do not soil themselves with activities of a rank and sordid commercialism. Such endeavors would be a violation of their hoary journalistic ethics. They have a public trust to enlighten the masses in their duties to their betters, those who compose the state and their adjunct servitors in the kept press. With the passing of Cronkite the stark reality was all too apparent, even to these lumbering dinosaurs.
 
 
+7 # anarchteacher 2012-02-19 11:31
George Clooney's film, Good Night and Good Luck, did not delve into Joe McCarthy's preliminary investigation of CIA covert activities and how CBS chairman William Paley, Fred Friendly, and Edward R. Murrow were part of the Agency's Operation Mockingbird to provide deflection and cover for the Agency's 'family jewels' of the day. CBS News president Sig Mickelson (1954-61) was liaison to the CIA. Because of his frequent communications, Mickelson even had a direct private phone line installed to the Agency.

Read chapter ten, 'Things Fall Apart: Journalists,' in Hugh Wilford's book, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How The CIA Played America, for background on these crucial events. It outlines how the CBS was closely connected to the CIA during this period.

CIA director Allen Dulles, CBS chairman William Paley, and CBS board director Senator Prescott Bush were intimate associates in various sociopolitical networks of the northeastern seaboard establishment found in Washington and New York during the early Cold War.

Whether they would meet in their private clubs, at the Harold Pratt House of the Council on Foreign Relations, or in Wall Street corporate and bank board rooms, these old birds of a feather flocked, connived, schemed, and conspired together.

See also the Rolling Stone online article, 'The CIA and the Media,' by former Washington Post investigative journalist Carl Bernstein which is discussed in detail in The Mighty Wurlitzer.
 
 
+2 # barbaratodish 2012-02-19 12:34
The new's ("red rubber-ball" ) noses are covered in brown S##T!
 
 
+9 # cordleycoit 2012-02-19 12:43
Looking at the direction of journalism which means journalists might enlighten us.
Radio journalists had latitude in their stories but there was tight control at the top.Example Edward Windsor was a stinking anti Semite and fascist sympathizer. FDR died in his mistress's arms. Chang the great anti communist Chinese leader was a vicious bandit.
Television when it arrived was going to be interactive and educational. The republicans turned Television into the intellectual whore house it is today in less than two years. Now watching television will turn anyone into a drooling idiot in record time.
Notice there were no real journalists exposing the people behind the Bush coup in Fla and Ohio, not because buying off the Supremes was hard to notice no rather the journalists were unable to see the crime happening right in front of them. Then they blame the web for final disintegration of reporting. small specialized sites like RSN, NarcoNews, AlterNet and a thousand other sites are just getting going breaking the real stories behind the stories.So now the Corporate State is reckoning on taking over the Web like they did TV. What is needed is what we do not have. Support from the public freely given. people doing news need paying. Pay Walls are not the answer they lead to informational feudalism and slavery.
 
 
+1 # Lowflyin Lolana 2012-02-21 23:57
Yeah I know they blame the web for the "competition" but if they'd kept their product good in the first place, people wouldn't escape to the web to get decent journalism. They also blame the web just because their celebrity is undercut by it. "Internet Rumors" is how your average TV "news" person would describe the fact that Bush stole the election from Gore in 2000, for example. So we have a real "reality divide" between what's really going on out there and what people understand about it. Everybody's got opinions but without the facts, it's all just yelling.
 
 
+7 # Rationalist 2012-02-19 12:55
PBS ("The News Hour") at least deserves a mention. (Does it have even fewer viewers than MSNBC?) I'd give The News Hour a B-minus. They do at least try to tackle subjects in-depth, avoiding the most egregious pandering to popular tastes. I fault them on three counts:

(1) What passes for in-depth is often an over-extended and sprawling interview that should have been edited to retain the more cogent points.

(2) Their attempts at objectivity result in a false balance between opposing views, at least one of which should have been debunked by a fact-checker.

(3) They have not completely escaped the mentality of covering political campaigns as horse races, more concerned with the process than with substance. It seems to me that they have devoted an inordinate amount of time to covering the Republican-cont est fiasco.

On the latter two points PBS is at least less bad than their competition. Everybody should be spending more time "following the money," as that is where the real story lies in politics.

On programs such as Frontline and Bill Moyers, however, PBS embodies what is left of responsible and vital journalism; and for that they should be cheered.

Do you, John Cory, not pay any attention to PBS? Do any of my fellow commenters here have any opinion on this?
 
 
0 # Lowflyin Lolana 2012-02-21 23:54
PBS has done some very good Frontline programs, but when they did the hit piece on Brad Manning, they lost me. Imagine! A whole hour devoted to Daniel Ellsberg the year previous, and Ellsberg isn't asked his opinion anywhere in the Manning piece. Their hour special on Manning made me just adore him, and hate them. How could they do it? It just made me sick.
 
 
+1 # E-Mon 2012-02-19 13:44
Looks like we finally reached 1984 where war is peace. I ditched my TV close to a decade ago. Got tired of all the romper room level content, especially the endless barrage of commercials hammering and chipping away at my very mind and soul. Being decidedly liberal I used to listen to (radio) guys like Ed Shultz, Al Franken, Rachel Maddow and Air America till I realized that even these people are perpetuating the "war" between Left & Right. At 58 Y.O. I don't ever remember it being this vicious. Yes, listening to Rush still makes me want to vomit, but I've come to think this is all by design to keep us divided and swamped and distracted in an endless quagmire. But the reality is that there isn't any difference these days between Left and Right. It's easy! Any candidate who's being propped up by the M.S.M. has been bought. Interesting being a liberal that the only candidate making any sense to me is Ron Paul and he is either completely ignored or made to look like a lunatic fringe whacko. That tells me he hasn't been bought. His ideas are depicted as too radical, like closing all our hundreds of mil. bases around the world and stop meddling in everyone's business.Or auditing the FED. (What the hell is wrong with that? I think deserve to know) I think what we need right now is a radical change, otherwise it will be same as it ever was... Same as it ever was.... Gag. I mean really... Newt or Mitt?? You gotta be kidding me.
 
 
+12 # pernsey 2012-02-19 13:47
I quit watching TV news, although I do like Stewart and Colbert. News with humor, and because its considered comedy, I feel they say what the other news shows cant or wont say. Fox, of course, is brainwashing people.

A friend of mine who is normal in every way except they drink the Fox News Koolaid, when they start on their Fox nonsense, I usually end our conversation and get away from them ASAP. I dont understand how seemingly rational people can believe the Fox crazies, but they do, unfortunately.
 
 
+6 # soularddave 2012-02-19 13:55
I'm sitting in my work break room as I type this. I read RSN and Who,What, Why and research what O
to learn, often finding more in-depth information and confirmation of facts.

As usual, someone comes in and turns on the TV and proceeds to ignore the noise and chat with others, searching for someone and something to argue over. Nothing ever of substance, fact, or import. We seem to live our lives avoiding information, but willing to make up anything with which we can get the attention and validation of others.

Life is just a cheap thrill?? Are we so insecure or ill-informed that any thought or noise will do? I don't think so, but it's really hard to tell if anyone's listening to the heartbeat.
 
 
-19 # Joeconserve 2012-02-19 16:09
It comes down to the individual. I tell my grandkids that it is not what is given to you but what you do with what is given to you. And, it begins with the family. The family must give the child, the individual, the means and principles to master what comes to them. Life is not fair. No one should expect entitlements. We are guarenteed by our country's originating documents to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Beyond that there are no entitlements. To assume that life owes you something is bogus. Too many people expect that, resulting in a lot of bitching and griping. I can attest to your living in the greatest country on earth. Those who do not understand that, have never seen the other side.

I am so tired of the whimpy, it's not my fault, you owe me, kind of person who has nothing but complaints. I'm afraid that a lot of this kind of person write their laments on RSN.
 
 
+9 # reiverpacific 2012-02-19 22:33
Quoting Joeconserve:
It comes down to the individual. I tell my grandkids that it is not what is given to you but what you do with what is given to you. And, it begins with the family. The family must give the child, the individual, the means and principles to master what comes to them. Life is not fair. No one should expect entitlements. We are guarenteed by our country's originating documents to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Beyond that there are no entitlements. To assume that life owes you something is bogus. Too many people expect that, resulting in a lot of bitching and griping. I can attest to your living in the greatest country on earth. Those who do not understand that, have never seen the other side.

I am so tired of the whimpy, it's not my fault, you owe me, kind of person who has nothing but complaints. I'm afraid that a lot of this kind of person write their laments on RSN.

If you are tired of the humanitarians who post on RSN, git off the site and stick with Fox News!
Some of us believe that we are actually here to help each other and nobody is kidding themselves that "life is fair" but we can work together as an allegedly intelligent and feeling species (although the likes of you make me wonder) to make it a bit more bearable for the unfortunate among us (remember that bit about "whatever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me" from y'r New Testament).
"Winner take all" 'bout sums you up mate!
 
 
+5 # CandH 2012-02-19 15:50
FWIW: my friends/family who are well-educated (Masters and above,) who have children, do not, under any circumstances, have television in their homes. To them, it is akin to giving young minds drugs and alcohol. In other words, it's proven to be bad for their brain development, both social/psycholo gical and intelligence.

Consequently, they seek out their news from a diversity of sources, most often by reading it, digital or otherwise, from a multiplicity and variety of sources. They read, both fiction and non-fiction studiously, and they attend the theater for entertainment when they can afford it. They do not cloud their days with superfluous jingoisms and jargons, and do not remotely possess a personality type of ADHD, having very concentrated and well-organized thought processes and conversations with people. Unfortunately, they are techno-geeks, indulging in tweeting from time to time, but otherwise consider tech knowledge to be a career enhancing skill, so they learn/teach their kids what they learn/know about it.

So after having fought with our satellite provider for four years to fix their DVR problems, unsuccessfully, when our contract was up, off, permanently, went the TV. I figured if it is bad for the kids, it's got to be bad for the adults too. Saves money, time, and headache. Period.
 
 
+5 # Robyn 2012-02-19 18:08
I stopped watching news programs years ago simply because it was all celebrity gossip and scandals and sport. as both tend to bore me, I found myself having to find my news elsewhere. Mainly the internet. I used to read the Herald until Murdoch took it over and turned it to crap, now I read online. It is the only way I can actually get news that is news and not entertainment crap.
 
 
+6 # psadave 2012-02-19 23:21
UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC Saturday and Sunday morning is the VERY BEST of the cable news shows. They have good panels and go in depth, at length on subjects rather than the 3 minute interviews of people spewing talking points. Check it out!
 
 
+3 # Valleyboy 2012-02-20 03:35
There is a news show that talks about all the things you've mentioned: Democracy Now hosted by Amy Goodman.

For example, last week they had a woman who was being sued for costs by a New York hospital after she was recieved treatment uninsured. This despite that fact that they a $50 million pot to pay for treatments to uninsured people!
 
 
+5 # lcarrier 2012-02-20 07:14
Newton Minnow was right years ago in calling television "a vast wasteland." Now that wasteland has deteriorated further into a poisonous swamp. Marx famously said that religion was the anodyne for the masses; now that job has been taken over by television programs devised to keep us from thinking too much.
 
 
+4 # ChiTown590 2012-02-20 12:10
MSNBC is a breath of fresh air. Yes, it could be more focused and provide more lengthy analysis, but it is fact-based, mobilizing and helps create a community. Bush extremism collapsed the center and cable news is helping to create a progressive axis.

Is there room for something more serious? Yes. But would we be better off without MSNBC, no.
 
 
+3 # penguinsonarock 2012-02-20 15:00
Lots of very good comments here on the article The Ugly Circus by John Cory.
I too, have pulled the plug on cable TV, bought an HD antenna, and now get BBC news, Democracy Now, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, and a variety of documentaries for free. I personally find the readers comments on articles like this, more enlightening than the subject itself. The real problem for me,however, and one which seemingly never gets addressed, is how the MSM makes its money: who are the advertisers, sponsors, lobbyists... and so forth. Money talks, sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right, but it always talks.
 
 
+1 # L mac 2012-02-20 16:48
The one big change since Murrow and today is the date.
 
 
+3 # unitedwestand 2012-02-20 20:27
What I've also noticed about MSM news is that they place covert and sometimes overt product advertising. I don't mean the commercials that are in between spots, but within the spots. Recently Diane Sawyer did at least a 7 minute spot telling us how major fast food places were planning on offering home delivery. Within that spot mentioning at least three major restaurants that I recognized as huge GOP funders, in essence giving them thousands and thousands of dollars in free advertisement. I did not believe this was news, although novel, if the companies wanted to promote this service they could and should have spent their own money to promote it in their commercial, not that I'll be using the service.
 
 
+1 # bbilson75 2012-02-20 21:32
People need to be more aware of the places where they can get real news, written by and/or presented by thoughtful reporters: RSN and Free Speech Radio News.
 
 
+3 # Lowflyin Lolana 2012-02-21 23:52
I ditched the TV in 89. And by now I am so far away from the mainstream argument (that is: that there are two "tribes" instead of zillions of different types of people with widly varying beliefs)---that when I hear people going on about it---about how "liberals" are "this" or "that" ---it's like something from outer space. My ex worked for years for CBS News in LA. This was in the 90's. And the staff there genuinely believed they were doing "real news." I mean, they had such an incredibly high opinion of what they did...and he knew it was nothing but eye candy, but you couldn't tell them that. The problem is that the folks on the teevee are completely sold on their importance, they believe they are icons. It's not funny, or sad, or anything. I just wish everyone would turn that sh!t off so we could all have some real conversations, with some real respect and humanity---beca use what's being pumped out there ain't that. I don't know how to get the message to "news" people that they're pathetic. I mean, the worst industrial disaster of our time is playing out at Fukushima with massive consequences and lessons for all..and there's not a PEEP on the "news" about it! Not even NPR--which I worked for for 11 years--they all suck now. How can anyone say they're working for a news organization when it ignores Fukushima?!! It's pure insanity.
 

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