- Paperback: 221 pages
- Publisher: Polipoint Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 097606216X
- ISBN-13: 978-0976062165
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,528,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media Paperback – October 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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."
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Top customer reviews
But CABLE NEWS CONFIDENTIAL enables Jeff Cohen to say something I, for one, would not have predicted: FOX NEWS CHANNEL is not the worst place in cable news to work. That distinction belongs to M.S.N.B.C., the reason being fear causes more harm than ignorance. The brass at General Electric-owned M.S.N.B.C., afraid to risk upsetting the military-industrial complex, undermine and ultimately cancel the channel's only popular program because of the reason it was successful, giving voice to those questioning authority. FOX gives the peace movement and other people's interest groups airtime, even if it's just to have their divisive hosts shout them down. But Cohen can't deny FOX offers more points of view than M.S.N.B.C..
There's one thing I dislike about CABLE NEWS CONFIDENTIAL, but I can barely blame author Cohen as it's something that's become ingrained in political debate: Referring to "conservative" interests and "liberal" interests when what he means is the interests of the one percent and of the 99 percent, respectively. Politics are not right-left. Politics are up-down, the wealthy trying to control and steal from the poor.
Anyway, read CABLE NEWS CONFIDENTIAL. It's easy to tell a critic, "If it's so bad, why don't you show us how to do it?" Jeff Cohen suited up and gave it all he had, and it makes for an engrossing, often funny (FOX NEWS CHANNEL anecdotes in particular) volume.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the news media, politics, or the future of our country.