From the “Freakishly Partisan” Olbermann to the “Atavism” of Beck

By Chris Ariens 

The NYTimes’ David Carr thinks the cable news channels are operating as if they’re still covering the election.

Gorged on ratings from a historic election and still riding on leftover adrenaline, the cable networks have steadfastly remained in campaign mode.

…the cable networks are loaded with red meat eaters and cud chewers. MSNBC is pretty much wall-to-wall politics with a roster to match — the obsessive Chris Matthews, the freakishly partisan Keith Olbermann and the reliably left-leaning Rachel Maddow.


Fox, too, sees politics everywhere, with Bill O’Reilly on the hunt for new enemies every day and Glenn Beck’s increasingly popular atavism. And CNN still has all manner of political boots on the ground – panels stacked like cordwood even though the election is long past.

Based on my experience working in cable news, this isn’t entirely new. In early 2001 the cable news channels covered George W. Bush’s first 100 days just as intently, hoping to hold on to the viewership gains from the unresolved 2000 election. But Obama is not Bush, in more ways than 100. And the volume of news is much greater now than eight years ago. Recall that it took the EP-3E incident over Hainan Island in April 2001 to turn the cablers attention away from the newness of the Bush administration to how it would handle this first of many foreign policy challenges.