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Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media Paperback – October 1, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jim Hightower is a syndicated columnist, national radio commentator, the publisher of the Hightower Lowdown newsletter, and the New York Times bestselling author of Thieves in High Places. Susan Demarco is a writer, former radio talk-show host, public-interest activist, and longtime Hightower partner-in-crime.
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Product Details

  • 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: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey H. Pierson on October 6, 2006
Jeff Cohen's new book Cable News Confidential offers readers a rare behind the scenes look at the 24 hour cable news world. Cohen describes his experiences at CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. He offers many personal stories, which were always engaging and often quite humorous. They painted a clear picture of how conservatives control and frame the news we see on cable. While I have read many other books on this subject, I have never seen a book that offers as many crisp, clear examples of the way today's cable news industry operates.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the news media, politics, or the future of our country.
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Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) had some faith in the budding, at the time, cable news. It was, he felt, a phenomenon that could take the place of that joke which we colloquially refer to as TV news. He was surprised.

As a little background, I won't allow television news on in my house. Long, long ago I was a television addict; that's what I used to keep myself occupied in my lonely days in high school. However, the summer before I was a senior in high school I was in a nearly fatal automobile accident which kept me in the hospital for some time. While there, I had little to do but watch television. Like a bad hangover can cure a potential drunk, being forced to watch the idiot box convinced me that the television is an idiot's medium. So I've sworn off it.

In Cohen's case, he was an ACLU attorney. He was disillusioned with what he saw as a right-leaning medium. When "cable news" came about, CNN, the pioneer, offered him a job.

Now, I don't want to go into details of Cohen's life then. Read the book if you want to find out about that. But he opened my eyes to a few things. First of all, while I've never been a CNN fan, it seemed better that Faux. ANYTHING is better than Faux, right? That's why I was surprised that Faux was not first on Cohen's list. But Cohen admits early in the book that Faux didn't start the rightward swing, but the pioneer, CNN did. Cohen pointed out that all his tenure at CNN consisted of was the shouting matches. It's drama so it sells...

The 2nd section of the book is on Faux, for which Cohen worked for 5 years. (!) His witty descriptions of his time there include, of course, his run-ins with o'leilly.
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An excellent insight into the inner workings of cable news. I had no prior understanding of the increadable bias that exists on cable TV news. I highly recomment this book!!!!
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A big thanks to Jeff Cohen for confirming that I'm not crazy. He "found inside cable news was a drunken exuberance for sex, crime and celebrity stories, matched by a grim timidity and fear of offending the powers-that-be -- especially if the powers-that-be are conservatives. The biggest fear is of doing anything that could get you, or your network, accused of being liberal." If you keep in mind, it's not news (never was), then it makes it easier to swallow. After reading Cohen's account, you realize that Walter Conkrite would never get hired today in the face of fools like Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, and Biff O'Really.
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CABLE NEWS CONFIDENTIAL: MY MISADVENTURES IN CORPORATE MEDIA recounts the years media critic Jeff Cohen spent working in the cable television news industry he had monitored - and often disparaged - as the founder of the watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, better known as F.A.I.R.. Going behind enemy lines to produce, host, and guest-panel on C.N.N., FOX NEWS CHANNEL, and M.S.N.B.C., author Cohen does not come away with better empathy for the cable news bunch. Indeed, it's not like that World War II movie A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, where American and German soldiers meet and rather than trying to kill each other come to see how much they have in common.

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.
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I really enjoyed reading this book, and highly recommend it to everyone...especially people who don't really understand what a joke this all is..and how it became to be such a complete farce and and absolute threat to Democracy and so many other things sane human beings 'round these parts cherish.
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