letters to the editor

Notes From Our Online Readers

Readers weigh in with comments on CJR articles on Fox News, MSNBC, and CBS
January 8, 2011

In our November/December editorial, we offered some ideas on how to rebuild the democratic conversation to coax readers out of their separate information silos. We got some disagreement about the nature of cable’s silos:

Will you please stop with the false equivalence of Fox with MSNBC? Fox News contributes millions to the Republican Party. It employs every major prospective presidential GOP candidate. Its lineup consists of a group of ranting harridans with a coordinated rightwing view, dictated by memo every day by Roger Ailes, with a couple of straight journalists thrown in for show. It dictates to those journalists what to say and what to ask every day, and fires them if they aren’t aggressive enough.

By contrast, MSNBC is an arm of NBC, a mainstream news organization. It features a conservative talk show for three hours each morning. Its evening lineup consists of four avowedly liberal hosts. It does not contribute money to any campaign or political party, nor employ prospective liberal presidential candidates…. —James

Will CJR please stop with the false equivalence of Fox News and MSNBC? MSNBC is essentially a PR arm of the Obama White House. Its anchors espouse the party line almost verbatim. In fact, on the Morning Joe show, Mika Brzezinski regularly spouts the White House line. Of course, it gets worse in the evening, when the anchors get more shrill, the facts get more scarce, and the dissenting viewpoints become few and far between.

By contrast, while many of the Fox anchors lean to the right, they invite in a much broader range of guests. Their highest-rated anchor, O’Reilly, has on about as many liberals as conservatives. O’Reilly’s competition in that time slot, Olbermann, has never had on a conservative, as far as I know….—Frank

On November 29th in “CBS Fumbles Again,” CJR’s Trudy Lieberman demonstrated how the CBS Evening News, on November 23, fumbled the facts on Social Security. Here’s how a couple of our readers responded:

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I have to wonder why CBS (or any other television news org) would bother to report anything other than what would benefit their owners the most. Today’s corporations have dispensed with the idea of taking care of their retirees because it cut into the bottom line, and thus made them less competitive in a world where quarterly profit predictions mean everything. Something tells me that coming down on CBS, while the right thing for CJR to do, is effectively pissing into the wind. —M M

Thanks for that, Trudy. Some (not enough) people understand that wages have fallen for ordinary workers. Those stats are easy. But total compensation seems to have fallen even more, because private-sector workers used to get pensions and now they get squat. I suspect that if we summed the losses to regular folks and set it on a scale next to the gains enjoyed by the financial services industry over the same period, they might even balance. —Edward Ericson Jr.

The Editors are the staffers of the Columbia Journalism Review.