Tim Rutten‘s column in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times opens with some well-deserved shots at Nancy Grace. (Example: Her program is “the kind of programming decision that probably would have been forestalled by a slightly more expansive reading of the pandering statutes.”)
But I think Rutten’s more important paragraphs come later in the piece, as he marks Ted Turner‘s decision to leave the Time Warner board:
|Turner has a loose lip and an unsteady personality, but he never wavered in his belief that serious news has a place on television. The same cannot be said of the corporate apparatchiks now running CNN and CNN Headline and cringing before Fox News’ success. They’re the ones who have unleashed Grace on their Headline network and defaced CNN’s regular report with things like Jack Cafferty’s bizarre and incoherently histrionic intrusions into the afternoon news and the increasingly demagogic Lou Dobbs’ second rate imitations of a Howard Beale rant.|
These desperate acts have been triggered by CNN’s inability to come even close to matching Fox in the ratings. The commercial genius of Rupert Murdoch’s network, of course, resides in Roger Ailes’ intuition that the talk radio model could be transferred to television, thereby avoiding the expense of real reporting while cultivating viewers with a taste for conservative partisanship and, more important, entertainment. Murdoch and his accomplices clearly understand that one of the more disturbing characteristics of the current cultural moment is the insistence of so many people that they have an unalienable right to be entertained during their every waking moment, no matter what they’re doing.