Open thread.

I’ve got a jam-packed morning, leading into a less-packed afternoon, and then a jam-packed evening. So I’m leaving you, my chatty friends, with an open thread to keep you all amused. I don’t have much in the way of conversation-starters, but how about this? For the first time in a very long time — it feels like…four years — I’m spending more time watching cable TV news than I usually do, by a factor of Quite a Lot.

And you know what? Every year, it gets worse. It’s like there’s no bottom.

Jack Shafer notes the peculiar ubiquity of CNN’s lame-ass slogan. Start there, and discuss.

And now, off to Wayne State, where for some reason, a class of journalism students wants to hear what I have to say. I’ll school ’em, by God.

Posted at 8:45 am in Media |

29 responses to “Open thread.”

  1. brian stouder said on January 10, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Hey – and the whole presidential shebang is headed right for you (if not already there, in Michigan) – and despite the D threat to turn away the red-headed-stepchild Michigan delegates, in a year like this – that ain’t gonna happen! (no matter HOW much Howard the Duck Dean screams!)

    I bet you and the journalism students can soon brag that you have “The Best Informal Politics Blogging Team In America”!

    Anyway – I, too, am watching lots o’ cable news lately…and the very BEST of the lot tends to be C-SPAN! Not black-backdrop talking head C-SPAN, but the C-SPAN live feeds of campaign events. I LOVE those!! After the candidate (or spouse of candidate) finishes her or his speech, they work the rope lines, and the C-SPAN cameras and audio allow you to elbow right up into the conversations and jokes….and it is just superb stuff!

    (but it does tend to drive the young folks out of the house, regardless what the weather is)

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  2. alex said on January 10, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Lame it is, but not one-tenth as preposterous as the Fox slogan.

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  3. garmoore said on January 10, 2008 at 10:12 am

    In reality, only half the presidential hoop-de-do is coming to Michigan. The Republicans have already begun, with McCain and Romney both making appearances around the state the past day or so. The Dems, on the other hand, are avoiding us like the plague. Why? The national party has stripped Michigan of its delegates for moving its primary to Jan. 15 without approval from the party, so Obama and Edwards (and maybe others) removed their names from the ballot. Clinton has said she won’t appear in the state, either, although she remains on the ballot. So this race is essentially all Republican.

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  4. Kirk said on January 10, 2008 at 10:17 am

    I, too, like to watch campaign events on C-SPAN, though they get tedious after a while. They usually remind me how much pain and nonsense a candidate is willing to endure as part of the quest for power.

    C-SPAN’s perspective is insightful and entertaining. I’ve gotten a boot out of watching the president, first lady and mr. and mrs. visiting prime minister in the receiving line at White House state dinners.

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  5. brian stouder said on January 10, 2008 at 10:48 am

    though they get tedious after a while. They usually remind me how much pain and nonsense a candidate is willing to endure as part of the quest for power.

    I was watching Michelle Obama working the crowd at the end of an event in New Hampshire last weekend, and a cloying old (old old) guy began expounding at great length about something or other…and even after Ms Obama gave him several minutes – the guy said “and another thing…” – and as I was sighing, Obama put her hand on her collar and left it there. Within a few seconds, someone brushed in between and moved things along; clearly, THAT was the signal!

    (and, Michelle Obama is much more receptive than I’d be)

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  6. ashley said on January 10, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    A buddy of mine took a job at Wayne State after he got his PhD. He got shanked in the parking lot his 2nd year there. NOLA may be the murder capital, but I gots to give you props — y’all kick ass on non-lethal crime.

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  7. del said on January 10, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Fox’s “Fair and Balanced” takes the cake. Though CNN is rushing to the bottom too (witness Glenn Beck). Some would call it the “Fox effect.” They’re all so weak. I watched Chris Matthews on MSNBC the other night (dunno why) and he kept insinuating, over and over, that Hillary’s team somehow cheated in NH — how else could the pollsters have got it so wrong? It’s just amazing how everything that woman does is completely distorted so as to be evil. When she’s calm and collected she’s the Ice Queen, when she’s emotional she’s shedding Crocodile tears. Maybe the Trilateral Commision’s to blame? Kinda feel sorry for her.

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  8. Kirk said on January 10, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Yes, the cable news networks, led by Fox, are being sucked toward the lowest common denominator. And 24 hours is a lot to fill. I’d settle for 10 minutes of cartoons every hour.

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  9. ashley said on January 10, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Remember the glory days of CNN? Around Bush War I, with Peter Arnett and Bernie Shaw were competent, reliable news sources? And we had eye candy like Lynne Russell. Gone. When Bernie left and they started basing the talking head lineup more on prettyness than competence, they went down the toilet.

    And I really hate to tell them, but the most respected name in news is probably the BBC.

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  10. Kim said on January 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    If CNN would use the word “shanked” in context with the Hillary-bashing over every freaking thing the woman says/does I might watch more often. As it is, every time I do watch and my husband is near I say, “Hey, doesn’t John King look like Elvis?” or “Do you think Anderson Cooper could fly as a gay man on the networks?” or “Doesn’t Larry King look cadaverous tonight?”

    Nancy, I hope you took the opportunity to use the “Never wear a miniskirt to a train wreck” line when asked for advice from the earnest journalists. Hey – that’s a great band name.

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  11. Danny said on January 10, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    You guys are hilarious. Hope no one tripped over their feet rushing to the keyboard to bash Fox News. I mean, I soon as I read Nancy’s post, I knew before I clicked that Alex had weighed in before his first cup. Reflexive tripe is what it is. I’m surpised you forgot to blame breast cancer on Bush and Cheney yesterday. What a disappointment. You’re slipping.

    And note, I’m not defending Fox as the high example of journalistic virtue, I’m just saying that CNN and MSNBC blew large juicy chunks way before bashing Fox News was even in vogue and the likes of Chris Matthews, Larry King and Keith Olberman are to blame. Keith has yet to recognize that when he has his weekly award for “Worst Human Being Ever” that he is searching for something that has already found him.

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  12. alex said on January 10, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Danny, take your reflexive tripe, fold it five ways and pound it where that big stick is.

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  13. Kirk said on January 10, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Reflexive tripe is what that O’Nazi guy dishes out on Fox.

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  14. ashley said on January 10, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Can we all get along?

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  15. Laura said on January 10, 2008 at 2:15 pm


    I blame Bush and Cheney for breast cancer. Mostly Cheney.

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  16. brian stouder said on January 10, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Say – here’s an entertaining diversion…an 11 question quizz that will take about 2 minutes to zip through, and which helps you to select the presidential candidate that most closely matches your positions on the issues.

    What I especially liked was that you also get to assign the importance level of each issue.

    I scored a 30, and Obama was listed as the candidate that best suited me…so I immediately liked the thing!

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  17. ashley said on January 10, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    These quizzes that try to map your views to a candidate’s views almost always omit questions about the rebuilding of New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, the failure of the federally built levees, and so on.

    That’s my hot button issue, and the only person really making a point to address that issue is Edwards. HRC will talk a good game when she’s in New Orleans, and not say word one about it when she’s not here.

    So IMHO, the quiz is flawed to the point of being useless.

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  18. LAMary said on January 10, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Last August when a judge in Detroit ruled against the Bush administration in the case regarding warrantless phone tapping, NPR said, ” A Detroit judge has ruled against warrantless phone tapping.” Fox News led the story with, ” Another blow to the war on terror.” This was on one of their “news” programs, not one of the programs they label as commentary.

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  19. Mouse said on January 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Jeez,where the hell is Michaelj when you need him.This is a great set-up for one of his rants.

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  20. del said on January 10, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Okay, for the cause of peace I will lay off Fox. Tonight I watched a little bit of Tucker Carlson. Boy was he infuriating. Twisted everything. I think Jon Stewart was right about him.

    Is Colbert back on the air? He’s gonna be a speaker at the
    Democratic National Convention. And for you political junkies, here in Michigan many Dems are going to be crossing over to vote in the Republican primary as our Democratic delegates aren’t going to be recognized at the convention.

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  21. basset said on January 10, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    >>Hope no one tripped over their feet rushing to the keyboard to bash Fox News.

    no, it’s too easy. they’re probably the best marketing campaign of the last decade, though… Roger Ailes is an evil genius.

    And that, based on a bunch of prior threads, is the last word on this one. Go start another, I can stop it in its tracks with even the briefest of posts.

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  22. brian stouder said on January 10, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    See, when you post later than the 20th comment on a thread, the odds are that you could be the guy stuck shutting off the lights….and when you are post #39 (like yesterday) – it’s almost a sure thing! – especially when you have a nifty story like the one about the non-basketball fan relative who successfully wins office pools by choosing on the basis of team colors!

    An anecdote that good ends a thread on a high note…you aren’t a thread killer, but instead a finishing craftsman. (in baseball or in field sales…or in blogging! – “the Closer” is the star!)

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  23. Jeff said on January 11, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Mild bafflement . . . last night i found where Fox News is on the cable plan we have, thanks to the channel guide, to watch the SC GOP debate. Haven’t watched Fox for months, if not years, and hardly know anyone who does. Looks like MSNBC on a budget, halfway between local news with all the 20-somethings all at a conference letting the adults have airtime, and CNN twenty years ago, but with current logo animations and sound effects.

    What is all the big deal, anyhow? Of course, there’s some faux Irishman everyone talks about of whom i can proudly say is not a factor in my life, having never seen his show — unless you count SNL parody takes. Or is it just that people are bothered by the fact that Roger Ailes has paying work that keeps him out of election campaigns? I say, keep the portly fellow off the streets and away from voters. (Frank Luntz really needs to stay away from the Green Room donuts.)

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  24. Danny said on January 11, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Jeff, good of you to have an opinion about a show that you have never watched.

    I don’t watch much television, but I think the big deal is, as usual, money. Fox, for whatever reason(s), seems to consistently beat everyone else … combined … in cable news ratings. And this has been going on for a few years now. And that means real money in terms of ad revenue.

    This pisses off the other networks. And since Fox is the reverse of CNN and MSNBC where they have mostly liberals and a token conservative or two, it also pisses off people off who like their news with a more liberal slant.

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  25. Jeff said on January 11, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Danny, i thought my point was that i had no opinion, and couldn’t see in a quick glance why so many have such a strong one.

    And i still have no opinion! (SNL mocks Chris Matthews, too, but they never got around to Bill Moyers and “Now,” which was ripe for the plucking, but they likely thought would be understood by few and laughed at by even less.)

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  26. Danny said on January 11, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Sorry, Jeff if I misunderstood. I thought you meant the “faux Irishman” as a perjorative. His show is sometimes OK, but I don’t get the ratings. He cuts people off and the format is rushed. Just like Matthews’ show.

    I think the best show on FNC is Greta Van Sustren’s “On the Record.” But even that can grate when they are over-covering a celebrity case.

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  27. del said on January 12, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Fox is insidious. It creates public perceptions (more effectively than official propaganda in other countries). Does so in part by its focus, focusing, for example, on the positives in Iraq (school-building etc). D’ya think people want to watch stories about death and despair or hopeful rebuilding efforts? It also consistently editorializes to create a bond with the viewer (kinda like CNN’s Nancy Grace or your local weathercaster or Bill Bonds for Detroiters). Fox panders to powerful and majoritarian interests thereby pulling a double-whammy, defending the status-quo (moneyed interests) and appealing to World Wrestling Federation loving public and the corporate advertisers who love them. Thread end. Kersplat.

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  28. brian stouder said on January 12, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Thread end. Kersplat.

    Not so fast there, buckaroo!

    I don’t really disagree with the essence of the criticism of Fox news, but I DO argue that it is out of context.

    My go-to cable news network is MSNBC. For whatever reason, I trust them. Their man Keith Olbermann loves loves loves trashing on all things Fox, as does Keith’s boss Dan Abrams.

    Recently, faux moralist Olbermann was on a riff about all the bikini-clad women that Fox manages to work into their feature stories and so on.

    But I do flip the channel over to Fox with regularity, because every evening at a certain point, MSNBC becomes pedophile-central, or Prison Yards Are Us, or Gruesome Murder Hour. I’ll take Greta or a Brit Hume replay over that stuff every time.

    Honestly, CNN is only ever an after thought, although they WERE excellent on the night of the Iowa Caucuses, and we watched them almost exclusively (they had cameras inside various halls and homes hosting caucuses, and it was fascinating stuff)

    And, not for nothing, as I recall, MSNBC was absolutely wall-to-wall rah-rah flag-waving excitement when we went to war in Iraq. I don’t think KO had a show then, but most of the players there did.

    By way of saying – this becomes a chicken-egg argument. Is the country more influenced by Fox News, or is Fox News shrewdly giving the country what it (already) wants? In any case, whatever O’Reilly’s audience numbers actually are, they are absolutely miniscule compared to – say – the NFL (let alone the much-maligned broadcast network news broadcasts)

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  29. del said on January 13, 2008 at 1:01 am

    Almost all the cable shows and news outlets were gung ho for the war. Part of that I blame on Fox, the Fox effect. (And like Colbert might say I could continue that Cheney is the devil, Bush has no soul and God is gay and I would be stealing Paul Krugman’s material.) The media’s stunning abdication of responsibility gave rise to Olbermann’s righteous indignation. As for the pedophile, prison stuff on MSNBC I completely agree. Gotta turn it off so’s I can find my happy place.

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