For the sake of posterity, respected reporter Walter Shapiro subjected himself
to 60 hours of cable news. On Sunday he resurfaced, gasping for the dead-tree New York Times. In his concluding reflection, he condemned cable news as stale, cliché-ridden, and toxic to American intelligence. Which, unfortunately, is a pretty hackneyed way to cap off a week-long ordeal. (James Fallows, among others, handled the subject ably in his book "Breaking the News
" and this
Atlantic article--both over a decade old.)
Shapiro, fortunately, has a sparkling writing style, so he gives the old idea a fresh coat of paint. Here's his conclusion:
At the end of my long cable news nightmare, I realized that there is a
societal problem more serious than the curare-tipped ideological
invective that is such a prime-time ratings generator for Fox News and
MSNBC. And that is that - despite rare exceptions like Fareed Zakaria -
cable TV is a major contributor to the dumbing down of the American
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