The Cable 'News' networks really should just 'fess up

Mac Gordon

Mac Gordon

The more I watch the CNN and FOX news programs, the longer I wonder why both networks don't just go ahead and admit what they are.

CNN is a mouthpiece for Democrats. FOX is a mouthpiece for Republicans and tea partiers, although I would guess that the day is soon to come when the tea party folks will want to have their own distinctly partisan television network.

This claiming that they are something else is a joke. CNN's brag of being the "most trusted name in news," to me, is not quite as comical as FOX's, "We report, you decide," but it's a close contest. Yeah, you trust CNN if you are a Democrat, and, sure, if you are a Republican, you love FOX's reporting and usually make your decisions based on that affection.

With the presidential campaign of 2012 already under way -- one expected to be as competitive and vitriolic as any in American history -- the differences in political philosophy between these two media enterprises will be clearer and clearer as the calendar approaches the November 2012 election.

That's why I think they should go ahead and change their names to Democrat TV and Republican TV, just in case there is a television viewer out there who has been living under a rock and cannot distinguish between them.

This is a new age in the media business, and CNN and FOX clearly have more "on the field" presence and clout than any other news outlets, including the longer-established commercial networks and revered newspapers like The New York Times and Washington Post.

Nowadays, elections usually hinge on the number of times candidates and parties are able to get their messages across the wide expanse of television -- and how those messages are interpreted by biased analysts, largely for CNN and FOX. We have not lately seen any giants of non-partisan reporting and commentary that remind us of Walter Cronkite or Tim Russert.

By the time these two mammoth television networks get through with us next year, they will have played huge roles in the decision on who occupies the White House.

The degree of malicious partisanship that has pervaded our political landscape in the last 10 to 15 years has reached a zenith, and these two networks have taken full advantage of it, filling their financial and philosophical coffers. The worst case of partisanship rests in the United States Congress, but the full-bore political separation in Washington and in state capitols filters all the way down to city halls and county courthouses. You take a small town city council with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, and progress is often stymied by spiteful, blind allegiance to one brand of political thought or another.

As the 2012 presidential campaign continues to unfold, let us hope that fairness and civility on all of the national news outlets find a way into our homes. CNN and FOX, please let it begin with you.

Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald.