I should stop watching CNN and MSNBC and turn to Comedy Central for my news analysis. The way it looks now, Jon Stewart (photo below) is the most reliable source of facts and commentary available on television. That’s sad because Stewart is supposed to be joking. And those 24-hour news channels are supposed to be serious.
But the news channels are so full of lies, damn lies and (false) statistics that I don’t know what to believe any more. Because of cowardice or laziness, or both, media outlets usually cover the news of the day by bringing on representatives of opposing interests and inviting them to recite their set pieces. That makes for pretty shabby television, but what’s really shameful is that the news anchors seldom challenge guests who make stuff up. As far as I can see, only MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow holds guests’ feet to the fire. Chris Matthews tries, I suppose, but as far as I am concerned he does a lousy job. And as for the folks on CNN… well, I am at a loss for words. You’ll have to see for yourself by watching the Comedy Central video below.
Fox News is worse, of course, but at least I know what to expect from them. Fox is the mouthpiece of America’s crazy right-wing movement. The channel long ago abandoned any pretense of being “fair and balanced.”
I’ve complained about the American media’s sloppy political reporting from time to time, and now Jon Stewart has done the definitive critique on the genre. In a recent show, Stewart noted that CNN had gone to the trouble of fact-checking a “Saturday Night Live” skit in which Fred Armisen (playing Barack Obama) claimed to have done “nothing” since taking office. In this hard-hitting report, Stewart noted, CNN found that while many of the president’s initiatives have not moved forward, he has in fact done “something” since taking office. Stewart then went on to air several instances of CNN guests saying spurious things and introducing made-up statistics without being challenged.
Do yourself a favor and view this video of the show:
It’s hilarious, isn’t it? But it left me feeling depressed. How can America solve its increasingly scary problems if the news media does such a poor job of informing the public?