Fox News vs. MSNBC. Who has more Education?

Sometimes I wonder.  Is it me, or is it them?  Has my thinking narrowed because we have websites and cable channels and radio that agrees with me, such that I’m only listening to those I agree with?

Or is it because the political thought on the right (Rush Limbaugh, Fox News) —  sounds a little off base.

It’s probably a little of both.

But one could make a case that the cable TV folks on the left (MSNBC) are smarter, more informed, and more, shall we say, liberally educated, than the cable TV folks on the right.

For example, here’s a bit of background, harvested from Wikipedia, about our media friends’ education:

On the Right

Rush Limbaugh — two semesters and one summer at Southeast Missouri State University

Sean Hannity — dropped out of New York University and Adelphi University

Glenn Beck — one semester of college

Bill O’Reilly (an exception) — graduated Marist College.  M.A. Broadcast Jounralism from Boston University. Master of Public Administration Harvard University

On the Left

Chris Matthews — graduate of the College of the Holy Cross.  Graduate work in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ed Shultz — Graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Lawrence O’Donnell — Harvard graduate

Keith Obermann — Cornell graduate

Rachel Maddow — degree in public policy from Stanford. Doctorate in political science from Oxford, which she attended on a Rhodes Scholarship.

Rush Limbaugh
Glenn Beck
Sean Hannity
Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews
Rachel Maddow
Bill O'Reilly
Ed Schultz
Lawrence O'Donnell
Keith Obermann

to the right wing purists who are so giddy these days…

I just had a discussion on Facebook.  All I did was post a video I thought was funny, but a couple of right wing friends got sort of emotional about it. This was one of my answers and thought I’d go ahead and make a blog of it.  (Hint to those who have friends on the right and want to remain friends:  they take Sarah Palin and Fox News seriously).

American politics is a pendulum that swings back and forth.  The Republicans had control of two branches for six years.  It was split for two years.  Democrats have two branches now.  It will probably be split again after next week.  My guess is that the Presidency will shift back and forth, as will the Congress, for many years to come.

This is the way it has been, and the way it will be.

Rather than focusing on these wonderful, pure thoughts that you believe so strongly (ie. pure capitalism is great; pure socialism is evil) — why not be realistic? It’s a pluralistic system.  Obama is not a socialist.  We have a huge country and it requires a huge federal government in order to function.  Somebody must be the CEO of this giant corporation, and some people must make spending decisions.  It doesn’t mean they’re evil.  It’s a hell of a task.

Your ideologies are wonderful for dormitory bull sessions and Fox News stockholders, but why not be real and put forth some ideas that can make this a better place to live, for us, our children, and grandchildren?

Sooner or later, your political party will prevail and have the opportunity to govern — as they did throughout the past decade.

I wish they could be a little more responsible with the budget, national security, and public discourse. The last time they had complete control — from 2000 through 2006 — they blew up the deficit, sliced and diced races and religions, neglected infrastructure, and spent our prosperity on war and extreme wealth for the very richest of the rich.

Beware small business owners: Fox News is not doing you any favors

I’ve been in retail businesses — even restaurants — that allowed Fox News to blast background noise all day long.

This is not a good idea.

Whether or not the owners or customers agree with the right wing viewpoint, no one can dispute the fact that every news network — and particularly this one — has a negative outlook.

When people are shopping, mood is important.

Very important.

Slamming Obama, and the economy, 24/7, may feed those who are frustrated.  Many customers may agree with every word.  But it does not lift one’s mood.  It does not make for a happy consumer.  It won’t make people feel like buying.

The big grocery stores know this. They always play snappy music.

Watching Fox News all day (or any news channel) will put everybody in a funk — and, in an economy that’s already tough, will certainly not help a business survive.

Lost my hat. Broke my glasses. Who cares?

I’ve been watching CNN a good bit since the earthquake in Haiti.

It’s been fascinating to watch the coverage evolve.  At first, there weren’t even pictures.  Anderson Cooper arrived on day 2, and now more and more reporters seem to be filing reports each day.

The despair, and loss of life, the destruction, is beyond words.  As depressing as it is, we need these pictures — even though they offer only glimpse of the tragedy.

It puts cable news in perspective.

CNN has hardly cut away from Haiti since it happened.  Fox News reports it, but they have little coverage on the ground.  And, they report it along with other news stories — mostly political controversies that are basically news events being fabricated on the fly.

I have little respect for Fox News, not only because of their bias, but also because the emphasis they put on certain stories distorts the importance of those stories (or, non-stories).

CNN does the same thing.  They sometimes have online polls with weird questions and then report the entirely predictable results as news.

But Fox is the biggest distorter, and it’s most evident when there’s a catastrophe in another part of the world and they don’t send a team of reporters.  It makes it obvious that most of the drama they report 24/7 is being drummed up there in the studio.

It puts news in perspective — and it also puts my petty worries in perspective.

While the people of Haiti have lost everything, I’ve lost a few things myself.

Last Thursday, I lost my Tyrollean hat.  It came from Austria and has been my companion for 25 years.

I delivered Coffee News all day Thursday.  It was cold, but at one point my head got a little warm and I put the hat on the dashboard.  After a while, it was in the way and I threw it on the back seat.

That’s the last time I remember touching my hat.

When you’ve had — and worn — a hat that long, it’s a little like losing a pet.  The best thing to do when you lose a dog is to get a puppy, so I’ve ordered a new hat.  It’s a knock-off, made in America.  It’s not easy — and fairly expensive — to get them from Austria.  It should arrive next week and I hope it’s the same as the one I lost.

The other loss — possibly — is my glasses.

While wearing the 3-D glasses in order to watch Avatar, I took them off and placed them on my coat.

After the movie, I stood up and put on my coat.  My glasses landed on the floor.  I was apparently mesmerized by the movie credits and didn’t notice this.  Apparently, the movie was so powerful that I even forgot I wore real glasses — though they are bifocals and I need them all the time for everything.

So when I heard a crunch under my foot, I remembered my glasses.

I know there’s plenty of bad news in the world — all the time — and while it feels good to donate time and money to help alleviate suffering, it’s not a good idea, psychologically, to focus on human tragedy too much.

But it does put my own losses in perspective.  A hat?  A pair of glasses?  Who cares?

red cross

Is Fox News really a news organization? Is MSNBC?

It’s interesting that while CNN is scrambling to cover the earthquake in Haiti, Fox news is talking about filibusters and stopping health care reform.

Is Fox News really a news organization?

MSNBC (my preference) is talking about Jay and Conan and late night comedy.

If they were “news organizations,” wouldn’t they be reporting the strongest earthquake in 200 years?

Both of them are basically talk radio.

Report Card for CNN: D-

The other night, CNN gave President Obama his 200 day report card. People voted online and CNN reported the results on TV.

The results were predictable.

When I was a technology facilitator in the school system (for 22 years), I taught lots of children how to use a spreadsheet.  One of my favorite intro lessons was showing them how to average grades — demonstrating how one zero can bring an excellent semester average way down.  One F can ruin a good GPA.  I tried to show the kids that skipping an assignment altogether is not “just one assignment,” but possibly a way to repeat a grade.

Obama got 54 percent of the popular vote in the election. His voters will give him an A. Those who voted for McCain will give him an F. Unless people have changed their minds — which would not have happened this soon — he would get a C, which he did. He also got a C on his first 100 day report card. Unless something big happens (ie. 9/11, stock market crash, budget surplus) it’s likely to stay that way. His report card simply reflects the country’s current political spectrum.

Letter grades, with the general public voting online, is a good way to make a funny calculation of Obama’s popularity, but it’s meaningless as a grade. Report cards should be an objective assessment of a person’s work.

I did not vote, nor did I watch it. I would have given Obama an A, but by the time I saw it, the voting was over.

They had their panel of mostly partisan commentators on all night — discussing the results of this poll. If they had been discussing his Presidency it would have made sense.  Instead, they were trying to go for the drama, like election night, and discussing the poll. I watched a few minutes. It wasn’t dramatic.

I like Larry King. I liked him on radio, before his show on CNN (and called in a couple of times). I watch the show sometimes, depending on the guest. When the guest is good, the show can be interesting and enlightening. Larry gives his guests time to answer questions.

This night, Larry King and everything else was preempted by the poll results.

They behaved as if this were breaking news. It wasn’t. It certainly wasn’t newsworthy enough to fill an evening on a news channel. It’s a good way to interact with viewers — but it’s all manufactured. What was going on in the world? What were their reporters doing?

I know it’s not my place to judge a news organization. They need to do what they need to do in order to make money and stay on the air. CNN can be an easy, entertaining way to get news, and I watch too much of it.

I know money is the bottom line. Controversy and close elections are better for ratings — and I think we’ve paid a price for this kind of journalism (especially in 2004). I’m guessing some of the programming makes some of their own journalists feel like barfing. Seen Lou Dobbs lately? Glenn Beck, who is a joke, started out Headline News (although he was probably somewhere before that).

They do their fair share of hype — but that is, as Cronkite would lament, “the way it is,” with the current state of commercial TV news these days.

They hyped both Iraq wars, and they reported the Swift boat ads as if both sides of the debate had equally valid factual arguments — even though one side did not. They don’t guard their language at all, when it comes to editorializing in a straight news report. That’s just “the way it is,” these days.

I still watch it.

The Obama report card would have made a nice segment — not an entire evening of news.

Too bad. MSNBC on the left, which I like, and FOX on the right, which I don’t like, are basically talk radio with little news.

CNN, with its resources, could be that solid, responsible, straight shooter in the middle. The other night, it got an F.