Thursday, January 11

:: Oh, Olbermann!

The traditional media has been slow to come to grips with the American public's distrust and dislike of President Bush -- sentiments clearly reflected in opinion polls dating back well over a year.
This is the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin, commenting on a puzzling (to me, anyway) phenomenon. I used to think that tv news programmers were biased towards the conventional wisdom of their target audience. In other words, if the target audience went cuckoo for cocoa puffs, you'd get, um, a puff piece on cocoa puffs. If a politician had high favorables, the coverage would be favorable. And if his numbers dropped, so would the tone (or quantity) of his coverage. I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that I believed tv news content was in large part inspired by the market.

But the coverage of Bush throws that idea out on its ass. The media fawned over the Decider right after 9/11; only natural, since his favorables were at one hundred million gazillion percent. But the bloom has been off that stinking rose for quite a while. So why does the mainstream media remain enthralled, repeating the WH spin, diminishing criticism, and downplaying bad news (i.e. the Four Faces of Newsweek)?

I have no idea. Despite describing Olbermann as "shrill" (an odd pot-calling-kettle-black sort of thing), Froomkin writes appreciatively of the man who has become a lone voice of sanity among the barking and drooling hyenas he has the misfortune to call his peers. Froomkin is right to question why there aren't more like him in the mainstream media - though I suspect Olbermann's greatest contribution is towards saving cable news from itself.

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