Fox News isn’t even pretending anymore
By Gene Lyons
Oct. 15, 2009 | In theory, the national news media function in a free market of ideas: a self-regulating, relentless quest for what the old Superman comics called “Truth, Justice, and the American way.” (Actually, Clark Kent’s newspaper-reporter disguise strikes contemporary audiences as a sentimental anachronism. Today, he’d be a rogue cop or a CIA operative.)
In practice, Washington political journalism has become a subdivision of the entertainment industry: its best-known practitioners are second- and third-tier TV stars, and news itself a form of politicized “infotainment.” Even lowly print reporters and pundits can greatly improve their incomes by appearing on programs like “Hardball” and copping an attitude.
Chasing audiences and advertising dollars, corporate media seek to tell target demographics the kinds of stories those audiences want to hear. Nobody who watched CNN cover Michael Jackson’s death 24/7, for example, could imagine otherwise. For weeks at a time, only BBC America provided a halfway reliable window on the outside world — a hell of a note.