Let the TV Networks Be Partisan

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?)

5 thoughts on “Let the TV Networks Be Partisan”

  1. Forget putting the TV stations up for bid; Cable TV market penetration is so high in populated areas, and satalite TV in rural, that broadcast TV is an irrational waste of bandwidth which ought to be phased out. Rededicate that spectrum to cellular communications, and it would support portable broadband internet access that would be so fast, you could watch TV through it at HDTV resolution.

  2. I don’t mind cutting broadcasters loose from all government oversight but I want them kicked out into the true free market before the oversight is lifted.

    Right now, broadcaster are selected by a politicized process. Removing all oversight at this point would be tantamount to giving a politically selected elite carte blanch to use a public resource to their own ends.

    Until everybody an equal chance to purchase broadcast spectrum the government will role in broadly overseeing content.

  3. I just now got through watching Rather’s pathetic attempt at salvage. He dug up Lt Col Killian’s secretary who says that the memos are fake, but the sentiments expressed are genuine (Killian’s family says otherwise). Dan Rather says his critics (I guess he means us, among others) are focusing on the details and ignoring the “larger truth” about Bush’s National Guard service. I swear, it was right out of the English – Liberal Phrasebook.
    Either Rather or the network’s pretense of objectivity will have to go.
    If the memos are fake, why not say where he got them? There is no obligation to protect someone who has given you forgeries.

  4. If Dan saw this morning’s Tribune editorial page cartoon, he would have upchucked his cornflakes: A drawing of Rather that morphed into Richard Nixon.

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