Thursday, December 02, 2004

Not One of The More Distinguished Commentaries on The Problems of The Mainstream News Media


The Kalb Brothers, Marvin (l) and Bernard

I didn't notice that anyone picked up on this op-ed piece by Marvin Kalb, a former network correspondent with CBS and NBC. Kalb is described now as "a senior fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Press and Public Policy." The Kalb brothers each have had long and distinguished careers in television news; Bernard Kalb was also a network correspondent and served as State Department spokesman for two years during the Reagan Administration.

So I was hoping that Marvin's piece, entitled "Mad as Hell? Not at the Top," would contain some useful insights into the bias problems pandemic in network television news.

I was disappointed. The concluding paragraphs may tell you all you need to know:

On election night, the conservative Fox cable news channel pulled in a
larger audience than NBC, the network leader — the strongest indication yet that
cable news and its blustery, right-tilting chatter have finally drawn even with
the older networks in the ratings.

That creates a huge additional problem, more troublesome and insidious than all the others: Television must deal with political pressures to conform to resurgent conservative values that appear to be stifling editorial courage in the newsroom. Rather had the inner strength recently to criticize "these partisan, political ideological challenges."

Will his successor have similar courage?

Will the timid network executives have the old-fashioned backbone to take on a crusading administration?

I doubt it.

So the problem "more troublesome and insidious than all the others" is that TV network news might move a little more to the center.

And the supposed solution is to find more anchors who are like Dan Rather, and who have the courage to "take on a crusading administration?"

Please. I don't know about you, but those are not the worries that keep me awake at night. But it's interesting and instructive to see how impenetrable and hidebound is the bias of the network "old guard" types like Marvin Kalb. He's right where he belongs-- at Harvard, where he will talk mainly to those who agree with him and can't do as much damage as if he were still broadcasting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marvin has a quarterly radio special on a right-leaning station, of all places, here in DC (owned by ABC) which features the most ponderous, self-serving navel gazing among journalists I have heard (besides NPR of course). He's very defensive about charges of bias and is very representative of the old-guard in mainstream media. He must be very frustrated by the declining credibility and power of the mainstream media. 

Posted by David H. Sundwall

Thursday, December 02, 2004 11:57:00 AM  

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