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TV News Personalities – A Critique from a News Junkie

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When one watches the news almost 24/7 one cannot help but glean the personality of the one reporting and/or editorializing about the day’s current events.

Another Blogcritic, Scott Butki, has written some excellent articles on Larry King and Art Buchwald. Thus I was inspired to take keyboard in hand, toothpick in teeth and tongue in cheek. For the mighty news anchors/commentators cause me fury, laughter, disdain and anger, sometimes all within a one-minute time span.

Let us begin with John Gibson of Fox News. John can be seen hosting Fox’s 5 p.m. The Big Story. I often ponder that this news show was titled after Gibson’s hair. This fellow has the biggest hair of any of the news anchors. Indeed a Fox viewer found a vegetable shaped like Gibson, big hair and all. It was a tomato I think, so go figure.

Gibson does a passable job of reporting the day’s events but he is by no means impartial. I’d argue that Fox is known far and wide for its conservative slant on the news, so this should come as no surprise. Every day John presents what he calls “My Word” and it’s a bit of biased editorializing and most times I agree with “John’s Word.”

In fact, beginning or ending a show with personal editorials is not at all unusual for Fox but I appreciate the effort to stipulate the commentary as personal opinion only. Bill O’Reilly is the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor seen nightly on Fox in the coveted 8 p.m. slot.

I cannot stand Bill O’Reilly. Period. And that bit about talking dirty over the telephone that was all the embarrassment last year for good old Bill doesn’t help my dislike a bit. O’Reilly too features a segment called “Talking Points,” usually at the beginning of his show. I am so glad that O’Reilly doesn’t write the talking points for the Republican party as I’ve never heard such a ridiculous mish-mash of nothing.

Although O’Reilly is featured on the Fox News Network, he is anything but a conservative. In fact, O’Reilly is a traitor to conservatives, frankly, and will suck up to any Hollywood loon who would guest on his show. O’Reilly is also a terrible interviewer. He tends to cut people off in mid-sentence and although he often promises to give his guest “the last word,” he seldom does.

Brit HumeWe move on to another Fox News personality and the object of my unbridled passion for many years. I speak specifically of Brit Hume of the high forehead and firm but kind demeanor.

If Brit Hume were to ask for my hand in marriage I would leave my husband today and rush to Brit’s side. Alas, Brit is married and has suffered great personal tragedy in the suicide of his son. Which only makes me love him more but I’m also fond of how he shoots down Juan Williams every Sunday. It’s a sight to behold as Juan — also a Fox personality, very liberal though Fox news critics often shout that Fox is not fair and balanced — spouts the Democratic talking points as Brit sighs and holds out his benevolent hand that would bring peace to the world if given a chance.

Brit hosts Fox News’ Special Report during the 6 p.m. time slot cherished by news organizations in this country. Generally the first half hour is a reporting of the news of the day. Brit also does a small vignette at the half hour called “The Grapevine” and often his tidbits are on politics flying below the radar.

Brit then moves on to his panel. News as reported earlier is then discussed with various and sundry pundits as Brit poses the questions and artfully steers the discussion.

But it is not all about Fox News. Any certified news junkie would not be caught dead not watching NBC’s Meet the Press. Unless, of course, said news junkie is dead, which could be an excuse. This brings me to Tim Russert, a handsome fellow who is also the object of my news junkie obsessions.

Conservatives tend to bash Russert as being too liberal but I think Tim does a fine job hosting what is the most widely watched of all the Sunday talk shows. The broadcast media does not have, at least on paper, as much editorial freedom as the cable media. Sure Russert often asks some tough questions that could be considered anti-conservative. But he asks the tough anti-liberal questions too.

Recently Russert engaged in a stunt where he promoted his son’s fledgling sports broadcasting career in a rather sneaky manner that smelled to high-heaven of blatant nepotism. I lost a little respect for Tim because of this incident.

Chris MatthewsAnd now there’s the object of my total derision, who can be found at MSNBC. I speak of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Chris does a nightly show on MSNBC called Hardball. Depending on the guest of the night, one could easily change “Hardball” to “Softball.” What’s especially annoying, Chris will often launch into a personal vignette during which he will frame the discussion based on assumptions he formed from memories of his glory days back during the Tip O’Neill era. Matthews will continue on with his personal observations right over the discussion then upon, totally disrupting the flow of thought and to the annoyance, one must assume, of his guests.

Matthews also hosts a Sunday afternoon talk show with one very refreshing feature. It’s called “tell me something I don’t know”. Each guest is charged with providing an intriguing tidbit, either based on rumor, fact or speculation, that Chris — and the audience — has not heard before.

Chris Matthews lives in the insular inside-the-beltway world of Washington D.C. He tends to get excited over anything he thinks will become big news. The problem being, Chris often gets the notion of “big news” wrong. He was all over the place over the Valerie Plame thing, even going on NBC’s Today show, declaring that the Fitzgerald investigation was bigger than Watergate and would bring down Dick Cheney’s entire staff if not the VP himself. See, in the elite world of Chris Matthews, the Plame/Fitzgerald thing is probably a big deal. Out here in the land of mere mortals, that entire joke of a case is regarded with a collective ho-hum.

In spite of my rancor and derision, I regularly flip over to Hardball during the 7:00 p.m. time slot. It’s refreshing to listen to someone so not a part of my world, so out of tune, just for the humor of it. Oh, and Chris really needs to get rid of his semi-regular guest, Ronald Reagan, Jr. Here’s a fellow who is an expert on dog shows but hey, he’s just as out of touch with the world of middle class minions as Chris Matthews himself.

The world of the news and commentary shows is not entirely populated by the males of the species. True crime aficionados have to love Nancy Grace. Not that she’s especially lovable during her self-named show on CNN during the 10:00 p.m. time slot. Nancy tends to growl at her guests and she’s especially hateful to defense attorneys. A trait I find a bit endearing in that lawyers are generally not all that sympathetic. She tends to talk right over her guests at times and there are moments when insults fly right over the air to viewer amusement.

We return to Fox for their 9:00 p.m. time slot and tune into Hannity and Colmes. Sean Hannity is the conservative of the team; Colmes the liberal. While Sean is cuter than a teddy bear I can’t bear to listen to him do an interview and indeed had to tune out on his radio show for his embarrassing rudeness.

An example would be the evening that a prostitute was a guest on Hannity and Colmes. It’s not often that an admitted “sex worker” agrees to go on television and here was a lady with a lot to tell. Sean gets on his high horse where he begins to pontificate with all the righteousness of the always-righteous and if he was close by I’d smack him alongside the head like his mother I am old enough to be.

“Would you want your daughter to be a sex worker,” Sean asked this woman, over and over and over. Now obviously she didn’t want to get into that. Yet no matter how the woman tried to re-direct the conversation Sean kept on with this very rude question. This kind of behavior denies the viewer a chance to hear what this strangely fascinating person has to say. This while King Hannity continues to try and wow the audience with his “point” — to wit — being a sex worker is not something you want your daughters to be. We get it already, Sean, now let the lady talk!

Wolf BlitzerCNN’s Wolf Blitzer has been a darling of mine from the early nineties when he was a battle-hardened field reporter during the first Gulf War. Wolf hosts The Situation Room during the 4:00 p.m. time period on CNN. Wolf is soft-spoken and a good interviewer. Although there are times when Wolf lets his guests off entirely too easy. Recently he had Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright on for his Late Edition Sunday talk show. To my astonishment this woman declared the recent Iraq offensive dubbed “the swarm” as an attempt by the Bush administration to deflect attention away from Bush’s falling polling numbers.

Come on, folks. What an outlandish assertion that any president would risk the lives of American soldiers for low poll numbers. Wolf did jump right on this and pressed Albright on it. She then backtracked and mumbled her way out of it. Blitzer, being the gentleman that he is, let it drop. He did assert, as forcefully as Wolf is capable, that such a statement was big news and if true, could be grounds for impeachment. This was a time when the “hardball” version of Chris Matthews would have been helpful. Although since the inside-the-beltway crowd thinks of Iraq as a nasty war in a far, far galaxy, Chris would not have had a clue.

Anderson Cooper is alleged to be part of the Vanderbilt clan, continuing on with the tradition of nepotism in the world of news commentary and reporting. Cooper hosts Anderson Cooper 360 during CNN’s 10:00 p.m. time slot.

Think boiled cauliflower with no salt. Think vanilla ice cream on an expansive white plate. Think of whatever boring icon that passes your mind. This sums up Anderson Cooper.

Lou DobbsFinally, there’s Lou Dobbs, host of CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight during CNN’s 7:00 p.m. time slot.

There is no more partisan news anchor than Lou Dobbs save perhaps CBS’ Dan Rather. In a recent “Notable/Quotable” column, I feature a treacherously biased quote by Dobbs.

Can’t stomach the man.

There’s plenty more news and commentary hosts and hostesses who either endear, enrage or anger. Perhaps another day and another missive. For now, those who end up broadcasting across the cable or airwaves to arrive regularly into my home cause me to form opinions and excellent analysis for yon reader.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

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About pat fish

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Nice overview of the talking heads, Pat. I really don’t like any of these guys and long for the world of Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, Harry Reasoner, and the like. The last true news person I admired was Peter Jennings (class all the way), and he is gone now. How sad for us all.

  • http://notesfromnancy.blogspot.com NancyGail

    Thank you for the hatred of O’Reilly. He turns my stomach. A couple of items for claification: Anderson Coooper’s mom IS Gloria Vanderbilt. Make no mistake, he got where he is through hard work. Contrary to what some might believe, he was in news before The Mole aired. He can be tough, but I’ve always thought him fair. Plus, I think he cares, which is more than I can say for some other anchors. Nancy Grace at 10pm is a repeat of her 8pm CNN show. Watching other shows at 10 most days, though.

  • Bliffle

    No mention of Jim Lehrer and his crew?

    Brit Hume strikes me as an unctuous brute. He interrupts other people relentlessly and is so glowering and rude that no one can interrupt him back.

  • Ty

    Don’t forget Rita Crosby. Cute as hell (seriously, major news hottie), but the most annoying voice on television.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Okay, Ty, if you’re going to throw Rita Cosby into the pot, I’ll see that and raise you with Laurie Doo-Doo.

  • Steve.Stewart

    Gee… are your biases showing???? You are far to biased to make objectives evaluations of anyone you’ve written about. If you can’t face the truth just accept your own lies… and lie in it.