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Suffering News Burnout? The Rest of America Is, Too (CBS,ABC,CNN,MSNBC all way down, only Fox is up)
The New York Times ^ | August 11, 2003 | Jim Rutenberg

Posted on 08/11/2003 3:14:50 PM PDT by Timesink

The New York Times


August 11, 2003

Suffering News Burnout? The Rest of America Is, Too

By JIM RUTENBERG

Has the nation's television audience burned out on serious news?


Kuni Takahashi/Boston Herald, via Reflex News; Reuters
Despite a number of serious news events playing out this summer — like the war in Iraq, above, and the civil war in Liberia — television news programs have been drawing fewer viewers than last year.

American soldiers are dying in Iraq almost daily, questions are continuing to swirl around the Bush administration's case for the March invasion and United States Marines are poised off the coast of Liberia. At home, decisions by the Supreme Court prompted national debates on affirmative action and gay rights, a basketball star stands accused of sexual assault and the California governorship suddenly hangs in the balance. And yet, television news viewers are tuning out.

The total evening news audience on the broadcast networks has been lower this summer than it was during the summer of 2001, when the pressing stories of the day were shark attacks and Chandra A. Levy.

"CBS Evening News" has been particularly hard hit; in late June, CBS, which is owned by Viacom Inc., had one of its least-watched weeks for its nightly news report in at least a decade, and perhaps in its history, according to Nielsen Media Research. The audience of ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company, is down nearly 600,000 from last year. Among the broadcasters, only NBC, which is a unit of the General Electric Company, has bucked the tune-out trend this summer.

The collective cable news audience, meanwhile, is slightly smaller so far this summer than it was this time last year, despite gains for the Fox News Channel, which is owned by the News Corporation.

"People have been through two years of very heavy-duty, stressful news, from Sept. 11 through the war with Iraq," said Jim Murphy, executive producer of the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather." "I think there's probably just a little bit of a break-taking going on across the spectrum."

Steve Sternberg, senior vice president for audience research at Magna Global USA in New York, an advertising buying agency, takes a similar view. "Considering how much news there was with the Iraq war," he said, "people are probably just taking a breath and saying, `O.K., that's enough news for a while.' "

Summer TV viewing, of course, is always lighter than other times of year, as people find other things to do. And, because TV audience analysis remains an inexact science, with no hard data on what motivates people in their TV-watching decisions, no one can say for certain why news ratings are lower this summer than in recent years.

But the overall diminished state of the television news ratings has come as a surprise to some executives and advertising executives — especially since it comes after impressive audience figures, at least for cable news, during the main military action in Iraq back in the spring

According to Nielsen Media Research, about 24.1 million people watched the three evening newscasts each night, on average, in June and July, compared with 25.2 million during the two-month period last year and 24.3 million during June and July 2001.

As for cable, CNN's daily audience during June and July was, on average, 413,000 people, down from 502,000 last summer, according to Nielsen Media Research, and much smaller than its audience of 2.5 million during the thick of the war. The daily average audience for MSNBC, which is owned by the Microsoft Corporation and G.E., fell from 254,000 last summer to 197,000 this one — which is down from 1.3 million during the war.


The New York Times

And while the average daily audience at Fox News grew to 753,000, compared with 612,000 during last summer's two-month period, the audience was nowhere the average of 3.2 million people who watched Fox News each evening during the thick of the Iraq fighting.

Some news executives said that many viewers may see this summer as nothing more than the end of the big Iraq story that they so eagerly watched in the spring. Others said this summer's more serious-seeming news events were, in fact, less compelling than those of last summer: the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart from her Utah home; the abduction and killing of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion in California; the rescue of nine miners from a Pennsylvania coal shaft; the fatal shooting of two people at the Los Angeles International Airport and the killing of the gunman by an El Al security guard.

Among the top news stories this summer, "none of these have the broad appeal and emotional tug that a Samantha Runnion, Elizabeth Smart, the miner rescue or the airport shootings had at that time," said Jack Wakshlag, head of research for the Turner Broadcasting System, which manages CNN for their parent company, AOL Time Warner Inc.

CNN's highest-rated day during June and July last year, for example, was July 27, when an average audience of about 1 million people tuned in to learn about the rescue of the coal miners, according to Mr. Wakshlag's Nielsen Media Research data.

This summer, CNN's most-watched day during the comparable two-month period was July 22, when an average audience of about 650,000 tuned in for news about the United States military's killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein.

Mr. Wakshlag said the audience for the miners was probably higher because the nation had been following their plight over the course of several days. The successful attack on the Hussein brothers, "obviously was not a large-scale, unfolding, dramatic event," he said. "It was pretty much straightforward coverage of the fact that they were caught, which is by and large something you learn quickly and you don't have to stay and watch a whole bunch of stuff all day and get glued to the set."

Though he took heart that CNN's ratings were up from the summer of 2001, Mr. Wakshlag acknowledged, "I'm not sure that national import and national interest always correspond."

There are two anomalies in the ratings that dispel the theory that perhaps the American public is turning a blind eye to the world: the audience increases for "NBC Nightly News" and the Fox News Channel, the respective leaders of their fields.

According to Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the Tyndall Report, which is a newsletter that tracks the network evening newscasts, NBC has given the heaviest coverage of Iraq of the three newscasts in recent weeks. Fox News Channel has not exactly shied away from Iraq, either.

Executives at Fox News Channel and NBC said they concluded that it was better to devote more time where more context can be given to Iraq news rather than less. If boiled down to mere headlines, they said, that news can seem relentlessly negative and may turn off viewers.

"Other networks have come on the air every day and they give you a countdown or count-up of the bad things that have happened — whether it's military deaths or civilian deaths," said Bill Shine, the executive producer of Fox News Channel. "That is important, and it's news America should know. But, there is some progress going on in that country."

CNN and MSNBC dispute that Fox News is devoting more time to Iraq than they are. And competitors of NBC News denied they were being overly negative, saying that if NBC News is covering Iraq any more than they are, it is only by a marginal degree.

"I think that reality can get to viewers at times," said Mr. Murphy at CBS. "But I don't think our coverage is negative or relentlessly negative. We tell people what we have. Some days it's negative, some days it's not."

It remains unclear whether the big celebrity-driven news narratives of the moment — the Kobe Bryant sexual-assault case and Arnold Schwarzenegger's announced gubernatorial run in California — will change the current ratings equation.

On cable news, Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC saw spikes in their average daily audiences on Wednesday — the day Mr. Bryant had his first court appearance and Mr. Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy. But the gains were not huge.

Reliable data on the evening newscasts for last Wednesday were unavailable.

Either way, Mr. Murphy said, he did not expect the ratings funk to continue for very long. "People come to watch the news when they need the news," he said, adding, "and they will need it again."



TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: abc; abcnews; cablenewsnetwork; cbs; cbsnews; chickennoodlenews; fnc; fox; foxnews; foxnewschannel; foxnewsratings; msdnc; msnbc; nbc; nbcnews; schadenfreude; televisedwar; tvnews
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Only NBC Nightly News and the Fox News Channel are thriving. Funny how they're the only two TV news outlets that aren't overtly hostile to conservatives. (Well, MSNBC is relatively fair, like their parent ... they just have the worst management team known to mankind and have no hope of success until those people are removed.)
1 posted on 08/11/2003 3:14:51 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: martin_fierro; reformed_democrat; Loyalist; =Intervention=; PianoMan; GOPJ; Miss Marple; Tamsey; ...

Schadenfreude

This is the New York Times Every TV News Outlet Under the Sun Schadenfreude Ping List. Freepmail me to be added or dropped.


2 posted on 08/11/2003 3:18:44 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: Timesink
Watching FOX at times is like 'Chinese Water Torture'. Just have to turn it off.
3 posted on 08/11/2003 3:20:31 PM PDT by duckman
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To: Timesink
Only NBC Nightly News and the Fox News Channel are thriving.

I am thrilled that Imus and liberals denegrates Fox and yet they're more successful than anyone else.

4 posted on 08/11/2003 3:23:36 PM PDT by sirchtruth
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To: Timesink

HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM (redux)

5 posted on 08/11/2003 3:24:13 PM PDT by martin_fierro (A v v n c v l v s M a x i m v s)
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To: Timesink
"I think that reality can get to viewers at times," said Mr. Murphy at CBS. "But I don't think our coverage is negative or relentlessly negative. We tell people what we have. Some days it's negative, some days it's not."

I really couldn't verify the accuracy of these quotes. I haven't watched Dan Rather, CBS, 60 Minutes, etc for at least five years.

I'm a Fox News watcher. Still have the original "Viewer" T-shirt that FNN gave out when they launched the network.

6 posted on 08/11/2003 3:28:36 PM PDT by spald
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To: Timesink
"I think that reality can get to viewers at times," said Mr. Murphy at CBS.

When I read this off a link from Drudge, this particular quote caught my interest.

I think it says it all. A Freudian slip perhaps?

Definitely conveys the basic news strategy at CBS. Don't give us stupid viewers too much "reality" on the "news". Fantasy is much better no doubt.

7 posted on 08/11/2003 3:29:57 PM PDT by MCH
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To: Timesink
There are two anomalies in the ratings that dispel the theory that perhaps the American public is turning a blind eye to the world: the audience increases for "NBC Nightly News" and the Fox News Channel, the respective leaders of their fields.

So, they are comparing a single half-hour broadcast to an entire news channel?

-PJ

8 posted on 08/11/2003 3:33:17 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too (It's not safe yet to vote Democrat.)
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To: Political Junkie Too
So, they are comparing a single half-hour broadcast to an entire news channel?

Well, it does say "the respective leaders of their fields." NBC Nightly News's field is network evening newscasts; Fox News Channel's field is cable news channels.

9 posted on 08/11/2003 3:47:28 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: sirchtruth
Fox, like Imus are really pretty honest. Don't get me wrong they both are out there selling time but they are both relatively honest.
Look at Dan Rather!I just don't think the guy is honest. And peter Jennings is a liberal punk that couldn't drive a nail.In a nutshell, biased.
10 posted on 08/11/2003 3:48:25 PM PDT by Joe Boucher
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To: Timesink
WE are not suffering from news burnout, we are suffering from lack of facts in the news from the media outlets. We get hheir opinon of what they want us to know.

Just the facts please. Let the public form their own opions.

11 posted on 08/11/2003 3:50:27 PM PDT by chainsaw
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To: Timesink
Well, if it makes them feeeeeeeeeeeel better...

-PJ

12 posted on 08/11/2003 3:50:44 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too (It's not safe yet to vote Democrat.)
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To: spald
I really couldn't verify the accuracy of these quotes. I haven't watched Dan Rather, CBS, 60 Minutes, etc for at least five years.

Me either (save for very rare occasions), and I'm not even intentionally avoiding them because of their off-the-scale bias. They just never even pop into my head as a potential news viewing option, because they SUCK. Their morning show is an embarrassment. They have no cable channel. Their web site is in about fifteenth place. Their good correspondents are all over 80 years old, and their "star" reporters under the age of 80 would be third-string at ABC or NBC.

They are the last place I consider turning to for my news ... about the only time I ever watch them is on weekends when NBC and ABC are both airing sports at 6:30 and all three cable news channels are either running tape or feature programming. Only then will I remember, "Oh, wait a minute, CBS still exists..."

13 posted on 08/11/2003 3:55:13 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: Joe Boucher; sirchtruth
Imus has started Fox bashing only because his contract is up for renewal next year, so he's in suck-up mode with the MSNBC suits. Once that gets settled, he'll go back to telling the truth: That MSNBC is an utter disaster. They've got a great bench, but the channel's management is so horrid they haven't a clue what to do with their team, and they're losing every game they play as a result.
14 posted on 08/11/2003 3:59:09 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: Timesink
I'll tell you, when I'm in the office in the mornings which is rare, I enjoy Imus but the dumbasses take him off if a frog has babbies.
He and chrales and comments by BErnie are better at presenting news then the bozos msnbc provide in their breakins.
Network has one good show or should I say only one show I ever watch on it and they constantly take the show off for crap.
15 posted on 08/11/2003 4:07:01 PM PDT by Joe Boucher
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To: Timesink
I'm not suffering news burnout. Only Kobe Bryant burnout.

However, I have to keep up on the Kobe story, because my co-workers are still talking about it.

16 posted on 08/11/2003 4:21:06 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: Timesink
Come to think of it, lately I've been hanging more on CMT (Country Music Television) than Fox and MSNBC.

I'm glad Dan Blather's ratings are down. I see that Joe Scarborough's ratings are a point above the MSNBC guys that precede and follow him. Must be depressing for long-termers like Chris Matthews.

17 posted on 08/11/2003 4:24:15 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: Timesink
Has the nation's television audience burned out on serious news?

No - just the biased news.

18 posted on 08/11/2003 4:27:25 PM PDT by TomServo ("Cinematography by Zapruder.")
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To: duckman
The Nielsen's just finished their summer ratings sweeps so there's now great gnashing of teeth in TV land.

I participated in the Nielsen's in the summer of '98, filling out a diary for one week of shows watched, and I've been fascinated by the Nielsen's ever since. At the time, an employee at my local TV news told me that for the week in question, the Nielsens send out 1,000 requests to each major Metropolitan area (mine is Pittsburgh) and that roughly only half respond.

So I thought it was cool that moi and approximately 500 people got to tell the Nielsen's what nearly a million people in the Pittsburgh metro area were watching.

19 posted on 08/11/2003 4:32:23 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: Timesink
I stopped watching all the other news channels except for Fox because I got sick of soft news and the sob sister interviews which I'm sure they figured appeal to women viewers. Well this woman hates them. I watch Fox for the hard news analysis and their irreverence.
20 posted on 08/11/2003 4:44:07 PM PDT by k omalley
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To: duckman
I have to agree that Fox has gotten bad at times recently. Hume is still excellent, and I like the "Beltway Boys." But some of the idiots on in the morning, especially Julian and Mike ("chuckles") Jarrett are just out to lunch . . . or, breakfast.
21 posted on 08/11/2003 4:49:18 PM PDT by LS
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To: Ciexyz
Agreed. Fox, if you're lurking, please tone down the Kobe Bryant coverage already. Show us more Iran, Liberia (Jennifer Cappelston, etc. And get Greta some new guests too.
I can't watch CNN even when its the only news channel in the hotel room - invariably when I try - I wind up within 5 minutes turning it off with cursed "Never again!" and springing for the $10 high-speed internet charge.

22 posted on 08/11/2003 4:54:07 PM PDT by kcar (T)
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To: Timesink
For almost two weeks they tried to push the '16 words' non story into a story and I tuned out. It wasn't worth the time and effort to even complain, I went to the Food Network for a while.
23 posted on 08/11/2003 4:57:22 PM PDT by RJayneJ (To see pictures of Jayne's quilt: http://bulldogbulletin.lhhosting.com/page50.htm)
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To: Timesink
I dont have cable, so the only realistic choice on TV of national news is NBC.I roll my eyes a few times each broadcast, but I do not scream obscenities at the anchors as a general rule.
If I had cable,it would be set to FOX for news.Not sure I would watch the O'Rielly type shows very often, but I would be glued to Brit Humes schedule.
24 posted on 08/11/2003 5:06:14 PM PDT by sarasmom (Punish France, Ignore Germany, Forgive Russia. Canada-well they ARE mostly French)
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To: Timesink
Or is it Lacey Peterson, Kobie Bryant or the whole list, including M. Tyson and a whole host of fallen celebs.
25 posted on 08/11/2003 5:07:51 PM PDT by Helms (The Difference between Chapel Hill , Ithaca and Berkely is only Barometric)
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To: duckman
Fox and water torture - I agree. I have turned them all off. I can't even stand to hear Hannity's radio program. Give me the local yocals on talk radio any day.
26 posted on 08/11/2003 5:19:50 PM PDT by Thank You Rush
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To: martin_fierro
I'll bite. Who is that a photo of?
27 posted on 08/11/2003 5:45:23 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: ontos-on
Haven't you seen the ubiquitous NYT TV commercials for subscriptions?

That's a photo of the NYT Reader Who Appears In The Ad And Who Strokes His Chin So Pensively While Squinting.
28 posted on 08/11/2003 5:53:49 PM PDT by martin_fierro (A v v n c v l v s M a x i m v s)
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To: Joe Boucher
You don't think Imus is biased? If you held a gun to his head, he may voice somewhat manly views, but that is not the same as conservative. He unfairly distorts and ridicules moral figures over and over again. Primarily, I guess, because he is such a libertine -- or smart laeck adolescent who refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of restraint and self control.

Also, he also apparetnly believes that his NYC and northeast media connections require htat he tow a liberal line and kiss the posterior of liberal senators in particular. Witness the infatuation with "Danny" Goldberg and that silly Democrat political insider book; and the inexplicable "hey, I just love Senator Biden"; and Chris Dodd; and John Kerry".

Then there is his being p-whipped --not by his wife, but by NYC liberal women such as Anna Quindlan, Maureen Dowd, Andrea Mitchell, and the silly and dishonest Doris Kearns Goodwin. He mindlessly rules out of bounds any legitimate criticism of any of these women---obviously because he idealizes them for some deep psychological reason.

Maybe it isnt bias, per se, but I think so. It is blatantly unfair slatedness. And don't forget, Imus perhaps singlehandely saved Bill Clintonin the 1992 NY primary--for no reason other than Clinton sounded like a "fun guy". Indeed, he was very laughable, although not really funny.

29 posted on 08/11/2003 6:02:14 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: ontos-on
I meant " It is blatantly unfair slantedness."
30 posted on 08/11/2003 6:03:32 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: martin_fierro
Thanks for filling me in. But actually, I have been spared exposure to that particular ad. Funny.
31 posted on 08/11/2003 6:05:56 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: Timesink
bttt
32 posted on 08/11/2003 6:33:41 PM PDT by lainde
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To: Timesink; dorben
I don't think "we" are burned out on news, just the messengers, who twist, distort, lie, spin, manipulate, invent, worship liberalism, distain America, denegrate Americans, patronize all outside of the Beltway, adore evil dangerous dictators and tyrants, defy the rule of law,
force feed us degenerates and their behavior as mainstream.Just fold your tents and go hang out with Fidel or Osoma and shut the hell up.

We have the internet, the Blogs and truth where we find it. We have hate radio, Drudge, saucaustic Ann Coulter. There is the Heritage Foundation, Rush Limbaugh and others we all know and respect.

News media, sleek anchors, deep voiced girly boys, harping women commentators (can anyone say Rita?) and the whole yammering inbred industry could vanish and no one would miss them. Now that's a worthy goal.
33 posted on 08/11/2003 6:41:27 PM PDT by wingnuts'nbolts (I agree with Dick Morris. Off with their heads! Let's start with the Clintons, all three of them.)
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To: martin_fierro
Yes, he is the one who "loves" the way the Times "surrounds a story" to let him see it "from so many different angles." And don't forget his insufferable yuppie wife and severe looking little prep school daughter who reads it to see "what's happening on the web." (The Times is SO out of it; if I didn't hate them so much I would feel sorry for them.) Well, they've done a great job of putting out revolting commercials -- I kind of miss the guy who "goes straight for the magazine" while HIS overspending yuppie wife heads for Arts and Leisure. Ick.
34 posted on 08/11/2003 7:02:42 PM PDT by speedy
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To: Joe Boucher
Look at Dan Rather!I just don't think the guy is honest.

Blather is an idiot. His line that Bill Clinton can lie to your face and still be honest has got to go down as one of
the top ten things that made sure CBS News continues to be irrevelant.

Drudge Radio has a European news clip of Blather comparing the post-9/11 US social climate to that of the practice of the
sainted Mandela necklacing people who didn't thing Mandela was a saint.

35 posted on 08/11/2003 7:17:34 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: speedy; ontos-on
And don't forget his insufferable yuppie wife and severe looking little prep school daughter who reads it to see "what's happening on the web."

Yes, I got that snotty little sh*t's picture, too. If she wanted to learn what's happening on the web, maybe she could just ... go there?

36 posted on 08/11/2003 7:25:38 PM PDT by martin_fierro (A v v n c v l v s M a x i m v s)
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To: ontos-on
Have given up on Imus too. I think they should turn the show over to Charles and Bernie!

Imus really does love Lieberman, Kerry, Dodd, and Biden. His sucking up to them is disgusting. And Doris Kearns Goodwin.... and Maureen Dowd..... and Frank Rich.... and the occasional appearance by Begala.... None of these guests receive any questioning. And that book by Danny Goldberg - what the hell was up with that?

Only time I listen now is when Laura Ingraham or George Will makes an appearance.
37 posted on 08/11/2003 7:28:59 PM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: Rummyfan
And he is always quick to lash with ridicule anyone who's head peaks up on the horizon as a threat to the entrenched feminist-homosexual-leftist triangle. It is almost like he gets a telephone call from some lefty as to who to target as the first wave of the liberal counterattack. As an example most recently, I will give a topical one. Curiously, and in the dark, I'm sure, on the morning after Schwarzenegger's announcemnt, Imus gets on to say "what a moron!" I would bet a thousand dollars that this was engineered by someone other Imus' little brain--and for partisan democrat political purposes [threat to dem Davis]. It is just unclear as to who has this much sway with him. It may be the same one who has always had his ear--such as to puff up Clinton in 1992; or it may be some others.
38 posted on 08/11/2003 7:43:01 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: LS
Agreed on Julian and "Mike". But they are just ridiculous. The skinny weather guy, Steve is such an idiot, though. Sometimes, I have to turn it off because it is too embarrassing to have on.
39 posted on 08/11/2003 7:48:04 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: kcar
Yeah; and just what is Rita Cosby supposed to be. That breathless excitement about another piece of mere gossip from a bunch of cops standing around just waiting --- is toooooo much. over and over the same thing.
40 posted on 08/11/2003 7:52:40 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: Timesink
This is an interesting article (even with the initial jabs at Bush). I am a huge news junkie (more than anyone I know) and yet over the past few months, I have been watching less and less news. I guess I am a bit burned out myself. Note: this does not stop me from checking out freerepublic for a couple of hours a day - what can I say, I am hooked!
41 posted on 08/11/2003 7:55:15 PM PDT by undeniable logic
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To: Timesink
Suffering Liberal News Burnout Only. Because it is naive, insulting, sneering, denigrating and propagandist in nature. And furthermore, the mainstream news outlets obviously are working overtime for the benefit of the democrat party.
42 posted on 08/11/2003 7:57:15 PM PDT by harpo11 (Half a Republican Gov. is a heck of a lot better than none&Giga better than all the demos in CA.)
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To: Thank You Rush
Yeah; Hannity is not smart enough to shut his mouth and let an intelligent guest make an interesting point. He bounces over the answer to his questions. He does it continuously with Gingrich--who can be overlong--but at least has a brain and tries to make a point. I felt sorry for the arab he had on TV tonight opposite Ward Connelly. The poor guy got off two sentences and was not even allowed to make a point. Bango.

Hannity repeats his rote argumentations now just as he did regarding Clinton over and over again.

Tonight, he was so full of himself that he told [unasked] Tom Clancy about how he himself composes his own "books". Clancy laughed politely [but with just a hint of sarcasm] when Sean "disclosed" that he dictates his books on the way home in the car. Indeed.

43 posted on 08/11/2003 8:02:40 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: wingnuts'nbolts
"deep voiced girly boys"

LOL & ROTF

44 posted on 08/11/2003 8:10:54 PM PDT by ontos-on
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To: Timesink
You "get it":

Only NBC Nightly News and the Fox News Channel are thriving. Funny how they're the only two TV news outlets that aren't overtly hostile to conservatives.

45 posted on 08/11/2003 8:35:13 PM PDT by GOPJ
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To: Timesink
The American public with the except of the 36% which are brain damaged, the lunatic libs, are turning away from ABCNNBCBS.

Those of us, who are not permanently brain damaged don't want the DNC mantras and lies posing as news.
46 posted on 08/11/2003 10:38:09 PM PDT by Grampa Dave (I think the Americans are serious. Bush is not like Clinton. I think this is the end," said Uday)
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To: Timesink
There is a really interesting thread on FR at this time that sheds a lot of light on this win/win for conservatives.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/962324/posts

Screwtape #7: The Right Wing Media Cartel
The Screwtape Reports ^ | 08/11/2003 | Dave Screwtape (aka Adam Graham)


Posted on 08/11/2003 7:27 PM PDT by Keyes2000mt


Report #7 From: Dave Screwtape

To: House Democrats, Senate Democrats, Democratic National Committee, Our Media Allies

Subject: The Ring Wing Media Cartel

The second greatest danger we face comes from what was once very friendly territory, the media. It used to be that we had to worry about Republican newspapers, but as less Americans had time for newspapers, television became the media of choice.

Television was largely our domain. I'd say from the Reagan Recession in the '80s until the late '90s, we had our hay day. We controlled the networks and CNN, the only all news network. The only problem we had was that interesting television required a debate. However, to our advantage, we wrote the questions. That's not to say that our guys were not challenged. Far from it. Like the WWF, we had to make television news look interesting and real.
47 posted on 08/11/2003 10:44:09 PM PDT by Grampa Dave (I think the Americans are serious. Bush is not like Clinton. I think this is the end," said Uday)
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To: Grampa Dave
Thanks Grampa Dave! I wouldn't have seen that thread without your ping!
48 posted on 08/11/2003 10:52:35 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: Ciexyz
So I thought it was cool that moi and approximately 500 people got to tell the Nielsen's what nearly a million people in the Pittsburgh metro area were watching.

The Nielsens are notoriously unreliable measurements of TV viewing. First off, you simply can't get within a statistically acceptable margin of error when sampling so few people in the first place. Second, the price to sample more people is astronomical, because it's not like a regular poll where you just make phone calls and ask people a few questions; you have to tally those diaries by hand. And third, people do an awful job of keeping accurate diaries. They lie about what they watch, saying they watched a show they actually missed just because they want it to stay on the air; they'll say they didn't watch a show they really did, just because it stars a person they don't like, etc. Even Nielsen's "people meters," electronic boxes that sit on top of the TV set in some family's homes in major markets, are only marginally better, because every member of the family has to use a remote control to "log in" and "log out" every time they enter or leave the room; they often forget, and often simply lie to the "people meter" the same way they lie in the diaries. And Nielsen completely ignores all out-of-home viewership: bars, offices, dorms, etc. In short, Nielsen's numbers are total crap by 21st century statistical standards.

In fact, they're so bad that all the major networks have either quit subscribing to the Nielsen service at one point or another, or at least threatened to, and tried to create their own measurement systems. The problem is that nobody's ever been able to come up with anything better that isn't so expensive as to be cost-prohibitive. So they invariably come slinking back to Nielsen. They suck, but if they didn't exist, the networks and advertisers would have nothing to base advertising prices on at all. Thus, everyone just keeps on playing the game, since the only alternative is a total collapse of advertiser-supported television.

(The general trends, of course, are true regardless: Even with such a bad system as Nielsen's, Fox News would not come in first place every single day if they weren't truly watched by more people than CNN and MSNBC. The question is, does FNC get 1.5 million viewers at, say, 9 pm? Or is it actually more like 5 million? Or only 500,000? Nobody really knows.)

49 posted on 08/11/2003 11:17:21 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: speedy; martin_fierro
I kind of miss the guy who "goes straight for the magazine" while HIS overspending yuppie wife heads for Arts and Leisure. Ick.

"She goes for the Gay Civil Unions section, and I head straight - no pun intended! - for Maureen Dowd's latest pining-for-Michael-Douglas article!"

50 posted on 08/11/2003 11:24:33 PM PDT by Timesink
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