Esquire speaks to former President Bill Clinton, and wouldn’t you know it, he has some thoughts on the state of cable news and the media. In particular, he has some thoughts on MSNBC:
I was just watching MSNBC, and they had a woman that used to work for me and a couple of other people on there, and they were talking about the Republican primary. And I was laughing. I said, “Boy, it really has become our version of Fox.” And I say that because think of the economics of running cable channels. Suppose you and I bought a cable channel, and he [pointing] bought another. You know that to make a living out of it, you’ve got to get about eight hundred thousand viewers for all your major programs. So you can get eight hundred thousand, and you won’t be as wealthy as Fox, but you’ll do okay. And now if you get a slice that’s that small and still viable — and you know it’s not like when we just had NBC, CBS, and ABC. That’s all there was.
Everybody had enough market share that they knew would guarantee some comfortable level of profit. And yet there was enough competition that everybody could keep each other honest, and when the Vietnam War came along, they could send fifty-five-year-old reporters to Vietnam for extended stays. They could afford to have correspondents in Europe to report. Correspondents in Asia. All that’s changed now. And so the good news is you can get a lot of information off the Internet for free and in a hurry. But I think the breaking up of the media, which is otherwise kind of healthy, has contributed to less actual reporting and a louder, more contentious, more divisive public discourse, highlighting conflict, sometimes falsely.