Stanley Kurtz argues that CBS’s stonewalling on the forged memos makes sense from a business perspective, since the political orientation of CBS’s remaining television news audience is probably mainly liberal. CBS risks alienating that audience if it backs down.
CBS deserves contempt for its disregard for the truth. However, I don’t think the political partisanship of network TV news organizations is necessarily bad. We may be seeing nothing more than a technology-driven differentiation of the TV news audience, paralleling audience differentiation in other markets where new consumer options exist.
Sports fans, for example, used to be restricted to football and a few other common-denominator offerings on network TV. But today they have access to numerous cable-TV and Internet venues for all kinds of sports. Perhaps something similar is happening with politics. Conservatives and libertarians now get the news they want from talk radio and the Internet — media well suited to the geographically dispersed populations of flyover country. This leaves network TV as an effective medium for big cities with populations that are relatively dense geographically and liberal politically.
So if one result of the CBS debacle is the more open acknowledgment by MSM types of their partisan orientation, and of who their real audience is, I think that would be fine. Let the liberals control network TV news if they want to, as long as everyone else gets his own preferred medium. (And of course, if network journalism isn’t politically neutral, that implies Congress should privatize PBS, and should put TV station licenses up for bid, right?)