Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media

Jeff Cohen, Author, Jim Hightower, Foreword by Polipoint Press $14.95 (221p) ISBN 978-0-9760621-6-5
Television news is so bad, says Cohen, the founder of progressive media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), that ""Walter Cronkite would have big trouble getting a job today in TV news."" Thus, the wry media critic kicks off this excellent, high-energy look back at his trials and tribulations at CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Though opinionated and incisive, Cohen's memoir is not the confession of a tortured progressive; Cohen freely admits to being a ""telebimbo"" and a ""well-paid party to the feeding frenzy."" In 1987, Cohen began a stint as a guest on CNN's Crossfire, representing FAIR and progressive concerns; before he knows it, he's an enthusiastic member of the media ""kakistocracy,"" the ""rule of the worst."" Doing battle with conservative gadflies Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak and others proves exhilarating, but a disturbing trend of ""genuflecting to the political right"" leads CNN executives to replace Crossfire co-host Michael Kinsley with two Democratic centrists. Surprisingly, Cohen finds punditry nirvana as a panelist on Fox News Channel's News Watch, ""the smartest and most balanced show on Fox and perhaps anywhere in cable news."" At the behest of Phil Donahue, Cohen moves to MSNBC, where the handwriting is literally on the wall: at network headquarters, posters celebrate news coverage ""highlights"" like the death of Princess Diana and the Columbine shootings. Though he chides himself and his colleagues repeatedly for ignoring real news in favor of sensationalism (""Nuclear tensions rise; we talk sex on Fox""), Cohen's willingness to mire himself in the swamp of infotainment amply mirrors the situation of viewers drawn into the cable news runaround, doomed to get their news from ""three dogs chasing each other's tails to the right.""
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
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