On the other hand, the rare program that can devote a half hour (or 21 minutes or so after the ads) to a single subject is one that has a better shot at moving beyond sound bites and practiced talking points. “This is not television for people with ADD,” Jaco says. He often splits the time among multiple guests, but thought that in a significant Senate race like this one, it might be good to give Akin the whole program and hope for some valuable insights. He was right.

Mike Hoyt was CJR's executive editor from 2001 to 2013, teaches at Columbia's Journalism School and is the editor of The Big Roundtable, a startup that is a home for narrative writing.