June 18, 2007
What do you suppose got into Dan Rather? He’s accused his successor, Katie Couric, of “tarting up the news.”
The news has certainly been tarted-up, mostly on cable TV, but also on the broadcast networks. Rather is right when he says there is no empirical evidence that going after the 18-49 demographic by tarting-up the news has produced more of these younger viewers that advertisers prefer.
But rather has only gone part way. People don’t trust the big media. They think media people are too full of themselves and that they have an agenda. That agenda is partly personal in that so-called journalists (and there are too few real ones) care more about their careers than anything else. But that agenda is also political. The public thinks the big media too often slant the news in story selection and the way they report to match their own political biases. Mostly these biases are liberal, but on some cable channels they are conservative.
Rather was among the most liberal of all during his 40-year career with CBS news. He’s right about news divisions indulging in the salacious, but he’s telling only part of the story.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.