Friday, June 30, 2006

Wide World of Cable News

Before touching on the subject at hand, I've noticed that there have been a number of celebrity incidents over the week that made me shudder. To pass on the pain, I share them here (no, not pictures... I'm not that cruel). Britney Spears naked in Harper's Bazaar. Pam Anderson naked for PETA. Rush Limbaugh with Viagra. Star Jones appearing anywhere. Woody Allen calling Scarlett Johansson "sexually overwhelming."

Okay, that last one was a shudder simply because of Woody Allen. If it had been someone not creepy calling Scarlett "sexually overwhelming", the global response would have been along the lines of, "duh."

And now, on to the subject of this post. Last Sunday, Rep. John Murtha was (mis-)quoted in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel as saying some pretty harsh things about America. They then corrected themselves, letting people know that Murtha was quoting global opinion polls, so it's the global community, and not Murtha himself, that views America as "more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran." The correction was issued on Wednesday.

Well, in the fast-paced world of cable news, four days is plenty of time to take the incorrect information and blast it all over the airwaves, which talking heads at both FOXNews and MSNBC made a point of doing. In the few days that the world was running with the impression that John Murtha felt that his own nation was the largest threat to global peace, the news networks drilled that information into their viewers heads. Names were called, and Murtha was lumped up with other anti-America activists.

Since the Sun-Sentinel made their correction, one of the two news channels mentioned has issued on-air apologies, from two of their biggest personalities. On recent programs, FOXNews hosts Bill O'Reilly and Brit Hume both made the correction from the Sun-Sentinel known, and let the viewers know the details under which Murtha was actually quoted. In the meantime, Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson have been fairly close-mouthed on MSNBC.

This seems a little odd. Perhaps FOXNews, in an attempt to persuade people that they're "fair and balanced", has started offering programming to support that claim. Maybe MSNBC has been too concerned with the firing/cancelling/reorganization as it pertains to host Rita Cosby.

Or maybe the approval ratings for the President and his administration have finally sunk so low that we've entered into an alternate dimension, one where the name FOX becomes synonymous with accurate reporting without an obvious political bias.

Or maybe, just maybe, the events that caused me such disgust earlier this week are causing more than just me consternation, and everyone's a little off their game. We'll see how this one plays out.

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