Media: Then & Now

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THEN: When Media Made Waves

It never ceases to amaze me how we love to elevate our icons from the past — and yet do nothing to emulate them.


NOW: Mouthpiece for Administrations

It kills me how these people act all judicious one day and duplicitous the next. Their professional lives are on record for all to see, but they are the last ones who would ever look back to examine the consistency of their questioning.

How can Hannity be the hallmark of reasonableness that became the catalyst for my documentary — and yet be someone who spreads the very plague that has crippled the nation?

How does Chris Matthews reconcile his hammering of Bush loyalists all those years — when he turns right around to become like the apologists he assailed?

I happen to agree with a lot of O’Reilly’s criticism of Obama (and Mr. O’Reilly was right on the money with Trayvon). But that doesn’t change the fact that I recognize Bill for being who he really is.

O’Reilly’s half-hearted rebuke of Rumsfeld below is intended to make you believe that he’s “fair and balanced” — and he’s a master at playing this game. “Oh, look how objective I am in criticizing the Secretary.”

Please — it’s better than nothing, but that’s a pretty low bar

O’Reilly had a lot of you suckered into the sham of his schtick. Someone who is truly fair and balanced would have exposed the aluminum tubes in the interest of accurately informing his viewers.

He never even mentioned them — and blew off anyone who did

Few people, one imagines, give much thought to just what qualifies someone to be a television pundit. In fact, the criteria upon which network executives and news producers base their choices largely relies on television “Q-ratings” rather than knowledge or expertise.

For pundit chat, the qualifications usually include: not being too fat or too ugly; the ability to speak in short sentences and project an engaging personality — and a willingness to speak knowingly about matters which one knows little or nothing.

Believe it or not, ignorance is actually an advantage, since it allows you to ignore the inherent complexity of any given problem with a concise quip and a clear conscience.

As Capital Gang panelist Margaret Carlson observed, ‘The less you know about something, the better off you are.

Network executives and news producers are looking for the person who can sound learned without confusing the matter with too much knowledge.’ . . .

Owing to its tangled roots in personal journalism, political commentary, and television production values, the punditocracy never developed a recognizable code of ethics.

Eric Alterman