Youch. If I was sitting in the chair heading cable or network news programming, I’d be a little unsettled after hearing what Sec of State Hilary Clinton just said about me.
The AP article is worth the read, but here is the relevant quotation:
“Like it or hate it, it [Al Jazeera] is really effective,” Clinton said. “In fact, viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the United States because it is real news.”
“You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news that is not providing information to us, let alone foreigners.”
Fox News president Michael Clemente appears puzzled. He said he found her remarks “curious.” Maybe some of Fox News’s problems is they’re not hiring the sharpest tools in the shed to run things. Nothing curious about it. She’s saying it like it is. The other networks and channels, perhaps wisely, are reserving comment.
However, former reporter Frank Sesno, is much more outspoken, to the point, and in my opinion right on when he says:
“She’s right,” said Sesno, who is now director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.
“Cable news has become cable noise. It was intended to be an opportunity to inform people, and instead it has become an opportunity to inflame people.”
I like that quotation a lot. The opportunity to inform has given over to the temptation to inflame.
There is some very intriguing irony here. Al Jazeera, seen as a propaganda organ for the Arab (translate in many minds: terrorist) world is praised for its news quality. It is the propagandists who are supposed to inflame, not inform. But, we have CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, CNN and FOX all dedicated to informing, right? That’s why we’ve been treated to a non-stop display of a pathetic crumbling star fighting for a few bucks taking up all our air space while in Libya, Yemen, Egypt and Bahrain the world is erupting. It is a sad commentary on the state of our media, an even sadder one on the state of our American minds.