Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » Pushing the Button

Pushing the Button

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

I recently spent four nights in the VA Hospital in Palo Alto following back surgery. It gave me the unique opportunity to compare and contrast Fox News and MSNBC. I saw them as the Republican Channel and the Democrat Channel, respectively. Depending on your persuasion, each channel offers snippets of bold faced fact covered with gobs of opinionated and unblushing politisauce.

President Obama addressed the nation and declared the end of War in Iraq. The Republican Channel all but ignored it in favor of a missing baby story and an exotic animal destruction tale. The Democrat Channel featured the president story and a different exotic animal destruction tale, that being the death of Libya’s Qadhafi. Fox reeled for a while until the Republican presidential candidates could compose perfunctory “failure of the administration” sound-bites. MSNBC could barely contain its self-congratulatory “victory for the administration” spin. 

pushing the buttonBoth channels are full of fresh faced copy readers. Maybe it was the narcotics talking, but I kept thinking, “Why should I listen to you?” But it turned out that I was experiencing hair and teeth envy.

Some smarty-pants girl gushed, “Troubling new numbers for Obama,” and I accidentally pushed the remote control button to administer my IV of painkiller. I knew I was watching Fox. I switched through the VA network until I came to MSNBC. Some insolent guy named Ed bulldozed through the predictable Republican responses to the dictator’s last gasp. I pushed the medication button again and wondered, “Who did his hair?”

There was a time, not all that long ago, when four networks dominated over the air television. It used to irk me that one of them told a truth, “More Americans get their news from ABC than from any other source.” Today on the Intercable [my word], where graphics abound and the ever present crawl tells all; such a boast cannot be made by any outlet. Some call it journalism. Some are wrong.

“Fair and balanced” is Fox’s claim. It is, so long as you are a Republican. “Lean Forward” is MSNBC’s counter claim, although it is ubiquitous as slogans go. “Skinny Left” would be more accurate. Accuracy is unembellished fact that should be difficult to tilt. As to my recent experience, if one has the time, it takes a dose of each channel to uncover facts, which are causalities when it comes to commercial ratings. It helps to have a medication button at your side.

Powered by

About Tommy Mack

Tommy Mack began his career in broadcasting and is a US Army graduate of the Defense Information School. He worked in Army Public and Command Information and earned a BS in Liberal Studies from the State University of New York, Albany. A marketing communications executive, Tommy became a business management consultant for a major international consulting company and its affiliates before establishing Tommy Mack Organization, a business consulting practice specializing in organization and communications management. A professional writer and blogger, he writes about politics, business, and culture.
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I heard that a fact once made it onto Fox News, but luckily it was hunted down, cornered and killed very quickly before it could do too much damage to Sean Hannity’s brain cell.

    The folks who watch Fox and MSNBC mostly don’t watch them for news, but for confirmation and reinforcement of their preexisting beliefs.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Would BBC count as an exception (because I don’t think NPR any longer is)?

  • http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/2011/07/repealing-great-society.html Tommy Mack

    BBC America is the Independent Channel. It has presenters who are identified as presenters as opposed to the faux journalists of Fox and MSNBC. Unfortunately the Beeb sees news through a foreign lens that also regards the rest of the world. “They sound funny,” one of my fellow patients remarked.

    Tommy

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Unfortunately the Beeb sees news through a foreign lens that also regards the rest of the world.

    How perverse of them.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I find “the foreign lens” unusually refreshing, especially since I’m a foreigner in my own country.

  • jamminsue

    That a nasty thing to have to do to find out. Hope you are feeling better. I gave up TV many years ago, it is just a bunch of hot air, with lots of “empty suits” that’s too bad. It used be fun.

  • http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/2011/07/repealing-great-society.html Tommy Mack

    A former talking-head myself, having been seated behind a tacky fresh paint set, I believed in television journalism. I learned that such an oxymoron suffers fools easily and I got over it.

    Of the two of Fox and MSNBC, Fox has the edge in the entertainment department. MSNBC suffers from the plight of the left, which is to make everything a cause. Each is competitive in smarm. We all suffer from the ability to read in this venue. But it frightens me to think that people who get their news from television might be seated as a jury of my peers.

    Tommy

  • Clavos

    The folks who watch Fox and MSNBC mostly don’t watch them for news, but for confirmation and reinforcement of their preexisting beliefs.

    Yup, that’s why I watch ‘em.

    That, and the talking points…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I thought you didn’t watch TV, Clav?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Tommy –

    I notice you twice said “Republican channel” and “Democrat channel”…and this goes to show how successful the Republicans have been in their campaign to try to change the “Democratic party” to the “Democrat party”.

    Just an observation….

  • Clavos

    Damn! Busted!

    I don’t, Doc. :-)

  • Clavos

    And that’s sooooo important, Glenn!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    You’ve been around long enough to know that in politics, labels are indeed very important. Instead of saying “Democratic party” which is the correct and legal name, the conservatives have made great progress to change it to “Democrat party”, with the word “Democrat” being made to sound like a curse or a shameful label.

    I’m also certain you remember that back in the 80’s or 90’s, a certain influential Republican politician put out a list of labels that Republican politicians had to use, and a list of words they were not supposed to use. I’m pretty sure it was Gingrich who did this, back in the days when he was far more influential than he is now.

    But in any case, in politics, labels and imagery are very important. Do I really need to give you examples of how such has changed public perception and elections in history?

    You know all this, too…but I suspect you just aren’t real eager to admit it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I notice you twice said “Republican channel” and “Democrat channel”…and this goes to show how successful the Republicans have been in their campaign to try to change the “Democratic party” to the “Democrat party”.

    Glenn, I suspect that Tommy is well aware of the phenomenon and that his choice of words was not at all unconscious…

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    I think Rachel Maddow is worth more than her fellow MSNBC liberals and all of Fox News put together. She does a really excellent show…with a point of view. Nothing wrong with that.

    On MSNBC during the morning and early afternoon, straight news rules. Both Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell [who are both featured reporters on NBC’s broadcast news coverage] have their own shows that are not one bit polemical…just good reporting and interviews.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    And the new Chris Hayes Saturday/Sunday morning show on MSNBC, called “Up,” is the best news/talk show on American television. Period. He even allows smart conservatives to come on and join the conversations, which are long and in-depth, with very little of the overlapping shouting-head stuff.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Haven’t seen much of Maddow’s TV show, but I did like her when she was on Air America. As you say, pointed opinion without the hysteria: quite a refreshing contrast to the gasbags who constituted a fair bit of the rest of the station’s lineup.

  • Jordan Richardson

    And the new Chris Hayes Saturday/Sunday morning show on MSNBC, called “Up,” is the best news/talk show on American television

    Such a good show.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    Actually, I also like Lawrence O’Donnell, a very smart fellow, just a bit of a stiff as a TV host.

    The thing about MSNBC is that it belies the fact that the ‘mainstream’ media has a liberal bias. If the mainstream media did have a liberal bias, it would choose and emphasize stories and angles more like MSNBC does.

  • Clavos

    …smart conservatives…

    Isn’t that an oxymoron, handy? Like military intelligence?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/haveno handyguy

    I realize your question is ironic/sarcastic, but, sure, there are conservatives I enjoy reading/listening to. The non-ranters. Unfortunately the yelling heads outnumber them. Chris Hayes would not invite, say, Michele Bachmann or Glenn Beck on, not that they would say yes anyway. Having a balancing rightward voice on the panel definitely makes the show better.

  • William Waite

    Tommy, I’m pleased to see that you’ve recovered sufficiently to be back at your keyboard – enlightening, entertaining and occasionally irritating your regular respondents. I agree with the better part of your observations about the differences between Fox and MSNBC (and the fact that medication may, from time to time, help the viewer stomach the respective broadcasts).

    Lamentably however, there are far, far too few viewers of any television news (network or cable) who seem to be able to discern the imbedded bias that exists in each news program (regardless of whether that bias does or does not match that of the viewer).. BTW, after a careful re-reading of your first paragraph, I don’t believe your intent was to imply that either cable news outlet is actually owned by either major political party…

    In any case, welcome back!

  • Igor

    You’ve got to get off of cable. All the stuff on cable is commercial trash.

    But right there at the Palo Alto VA hospital area you can get several good signals Off The Air (OTA) with a simple old-fashioned antenna. You can get KQED (PBS), KTEH (another PBS), KCSM(including Megaherz Worldview, Zogby, Doha Debates, etc) and an amazing array of stations like KAXT (12 video subchannels including various re-run channels and Fun Fishing, etc), KMTP (Classic Arts Showcase, a wonderous gift to non-commercial TV, with occasional Russia Today, Al Jazeera, Taiwan Report, Max Keiser reports, etc).

    If you need to, get a $60 ATSC USB receiver for $60, for your computer.

    Throw off your chains! Abandon the cable!

    Go OTA!

    The programming is better, and the HD signal is better!

%d bloggers like this: