The candidates are popping up all over the media these days, but do you notice a certain form of programming missing from their campaign itineraries? How about CBS Evening News With Dan Rather, World News Tonight With Peter Jennings, and NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw? When was the last time one of these three shows broke a big story or filled in some missing information on the candidates? Suddenly, the network evening news shows are utterly irrelevant. And it serves ‘em right.
True, over the past few years the evening newscasts have suffered budget cuts imposed by their greedy corporate owners. But they’ve also done their own commercial pandering, endorsing the cynical notion that viewers are illiterates with attention spans the length of Murphy Brown’s baby’s toes. The nightly news now routinely reduces major events and issues to a series of quick-cut quotes and flashy graphics, shoving soft-news features into the last segment of the newscasts to leave all of us slack-jawed rubes with a warm, feel-good message.
The result is hooey on the order of NBC News’ dawdling five-minute report June 23 on a micro-brewery in Appleton, Wis. The evening before, CBS News offered a superficial profile of Perot — the kickoff to a superficial five-part series — but gave over even more time during its closing ”Eye on America” segment to a ridiculously lengthy report on what Rather called ”a new American trend”: bargain outlet stores.