Ted Koppel: Where Is The News In ‘All-News’ Networks?

I love the “Newshour” on PBS.  It is rock-solid reporting and journalism at its very best.  Without it I would be lost in the sea of opinion shows that try to spin themselves as news programming.  I am old enough, and smart enough, to know journalism from opinion.  When I tune into a news program, I want THE NEWS.

I really do not need to hear someone repeat what I believe or think on a topic of the day.  Offer me new ideas and insight, but spare me the endless talking points from the left and right.

When it comes to the ‘all-news’ networks I have to hunt and peck for the news stories that lay out the facts as once was done when Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley ruled the airwaves. That is sad.

At a time when the voters need real background and insight into the issues, and the facts assocaited with them, they are instead presented with Keith Olberman or Bill O’Reilly.

Get real.

It really should not be so hard to skip the opinion and outrageous remarks from the left and right and just give me the news.  I might also add that while politics is great theatre it sure would be nice if the ‘all-news’ networks gave insight into international stories.  There is a whole world to be reported on, and I get offered non-stop coverage if Nancy Pelosi should be minority leader in the House!  How how about a 20 minute segment on the meltdown of the EU, or the Irish financial implosion?  How about a segment on the number of North Koreans who have found their way to South Korea?  How about some substance on…….pick a topic!

So I was very pleased…..ELATED!….to read the words of a real journalist that knows  MSNBC and FAUX News are not real news operations.  When Ted Koppel writes about the lack of journalism and strong reporting from these networks all I can add is AMEN!

The commercial success of both Fox News and MSNBC is a source of nonpartisan sadness for me. While I can appreciate the financial logic of drowning television viewers in a flood of opinions designed to confirm their own biases, the trend is not good for the republic. It is, though, the natural outcome of a growing sense of national entitlement. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s oft-quoted observation that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,” seems almost quaint in an environment that flaunts opinions as though they were facts.

Keith Olbermann Was Wrong About Political Donations

First and foremost I want to state upfront that what Keith Olbermann does on his MSNBC show “Countdown” is no more journalism than what Bill O’Reilly does on FAUX News.  They are both personalities that take a partisan side of an issue and present information and entertainment with it. 

That does not make it a news show. 

Do we learn something along the way? 

Bits and pieces, and since I watch Olberman I can claim some insight from his shows when hearing from reporters who are interviewed.  But this is not a news show aimed for any objectivity.  Nor is the program done by O’Reilly.

We all know that.

So let us not confuse what they do with the work Katie Couric, NPR, or the “Newshour” on PBS achieves.   Real reporters and journalists make up the three just listed.  

There are many steps to the making of a real news show, and no one can seriously claim at either MSNBC or FAUX News they are in that business.  They impart information, but they lack the totality of making what they do top-notched journalism.

Having said that however, comes the rules and regulations that MSNBC had made clear about how far out of the box those on MSNBC could stray with political acts.  All news operations have to have such guidelines.  All the hosts on these networks are big-time enough to understand the need for such rules, and should all be smart enough to follow them.

Everyone knows about the all-out blurring of lines with FAUX News and the Republican Party.  That is what makes the Keith Olbermann story more upsetting.  While FAUX News allows several presidential contenders to be on-air partisan attack dogs on a regular basis, and makes no bones about the money they funnel to the GOP, it is clear why some lines have to be drawn and followed.  When they are not, well……we end up with FAUX News!

When NPR released Juan Williams for his anti-muslim remarks a few weeks ago I was in agreement with the action as the highly regarded news operation needed to insure that the work they do retains both objectivity and credibility.  To the degree that MSNBC needs to rise to the level they aspire to should not be undermined by an anchor, who though topped rated, thought he could do whatever he desired.

No on is surprised that Keith Olbermann is a liberal Democrat. 

I am however surprised how Keith Olbermann thinks he can bend rules that are in place for a reason.

Chris Matthews, Great American and Pundit, Cover Story In New York Times Magazine

I love Chris Matthews and his style of political punditry on his MSNBC show “Hardball”.  But more importantly I respect where he came from, and the bedrock notions about America and politics that he is not embarrassed to stand by and affirm.  He is, I believe, one of the most sincere faces on any political show today.  After harsh rhetoric and demonzing from each political party, it is Chris Matthews who can cut through to the core issues and speak to the broad middle of America.  The place he grew up in.

This week Chris Mattews is the cover story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. 

A few excerpts.

There is a level of ubiquity about Chris Matthews today that can be exhausting, occasionally edifying and, for better or worse, central to what has become a very loud national conversation about politics. His soothing-like-a-blender voice feels unnervingly constant in a presidential cam-paign that has drawn big interest, ratings and voter turnout. He gets in trouble sometimes and has to apologize — as he did after suggesting that Hillary Clinton owed her election to the Senate to the fact that her husband “messed around.” He is also something of a YouTube sensation: see Chris getting challenged to a duel by the former Georgia governor, Zell Miller; describing the “thrill going up my leg” after an Obama speech; dancing with (and accidentally groping) Ellen DeGeneres on her show; shouting down the conservative commentator Michelle Malkin; ogling CNBC’s Erin Burnett. And he has provided a running bounty of material for Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog, which has devoted an entire section of its Web site (“The Matthews Monitor”) to cataloging Matthews’s alleged offenses, especially against Hillary Clinton and women generally.


Yet for as basic as he has become to the political and media furniture, Matthews is anything but secure. He is of the moment, but, at 62, also something of a throwback — to an era of politics set in the ethnic Democratic wards of the ’60s and the O’Neill-Reagan battles of the ’80s. And he is a product of an aging era of cable news, the late-’90s, when “Hardball” started and Matthews made his name as a battering critic of Bill Clinton during the Monica saga.
Cable political coverage has changed, however, and so has the sensibility that viewers — particularly young ones — expect from it. Mat-thews’s bombast is radically at odds with the wry, antipolitical style fashioned by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert or the cutting and finely tuned cynicism of Matthews’s MSNBC co-worker Keith Olbermann. These hosts betray none of the reverence for politics or the rituals of Washington that Matthews does. On the contrary, they appeal to the eye-rolling tendencies of a cooler, highly educated urban cohort of the electorate that mostly dismisses an exuberant political animal like Matthews as annoyingly antiquated, like the ranting uncle at the Thanksgiving table whom the kids have learned to tune out.


“I like the fact that people don’t think of me as famous, but that they know me,” Matthews said. “They come up to me and say, ‘Chris, what do you think?’ There’s no aura. It’s a different kind of celebrity. People assume they have a right to talk to me. They want to know my take.”

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,