NPR on Savannah Guthrie and the Ideological Shift in Cable News

By Alex Weprin Comment

savannah_guthrie072010.jpeg NPR’s “Morning Edition” profiled NBC’s Savannah Guthrie today. Interestingly, the profile morphs into an analysis of the current ideological state of cable news about halfway through.

The profile touts Guthrie as a “rising star” at NBC News, going into her background as a local TV reporter and her time at Georgetown Law, before asking the ideological question.

Nowadays, the paper-or-plastic question involves whether to seek a network presence, with more viewers and a chance at a bigger payoff, or cable prominence, with more chances of personal recognition. NBC News holds a unique place in broadcast journalism in that it offers both: It has a network news division that clings to the concept of journalistic impartiality, but its sister cable channel MSNBC only found ratings success with a prime-time ideological tilt — in its case, toward the political left.

On cable, many of the more successful personalities find themselves standing out by adopting a sharper tone. Guthrie says she harbors no such desire, though the cable network on which she appears daily has won its greatest ratings successes by doing just that.

“I know what everybody says,” Guthrie says, “but … we just do straight news, and no one has ever asked me to do anything other than that.”

From there, the piece focuses less on Guthrie and more on cable news in general, discussing Campbell Brown’s departure from CNN, and Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly, who it says “has taken on a noticeably sharp tone,” in recent months.