Friday, February 10, 2006

Current TV, Leaking Bias on the Airwaves



Do you ever skip past Current TV en route to the Home and Garden channel, or syndicated CSI episodes? I have paused on Current TV a few times, although the format has never been able to hold my interest for more than a few seconds. In no time at all I am a few channels up, and Current TV slips from my mind.

Today I saw something on Al Gore's channel that caught my interest, though. Michelle Malkin's site links into a hack job done to her recently on the underwhelming cable channel. Apparently, Michelle was a high ranking search on google recently, due to her outstanding blogging of the Danish Cartoon controversy (for more info on this, go ahead and check out some of my previous posts). The Current TV host, Conor Knighton, describing Ms Malkin, states that " the general consensus is that Michelle Malkin says and writes absurd stuff".

What I found so profound about this spot (which probably was seen by about 4500 viewers worldwide, by the way) was the way it packed dismissive bias into what is purported to be an informative piece. Where did Conor Knighton go to identify the consensus on Ms Malkin, the Daily Kos message boards?

Describing her as conservative, or maybe controversial, would have been an accurate or at least fair description of the blogger and author, but absurd? Words mean things, so here is a definition for everyone out there (courtesy of dictionary.com):

ab·surd Pronunciation Key (b-sûrd, -zûrd)
adj.

1. Ridiculously incongruous or unreasonable. See Synonyms at foolish.
2. Of, relating to, or manifesting the view that there is no order or value in human life or in the universe.
3. Of or relating to absurdism or the absurd.


n.

The condition or state in which humans exist in a meaningless, irrational universe wherein people's lives have no purpose or meaning.



Whether one agrees with Ms Malkin's views or not, there is little doubt that she attempts to state an opinion (conservative as it may be), and backs it up with solid observations and facts. This is the process of arguing with
logic, and is the opposite of absurdity. On the other hand, Mr Knighton's failure to back up his so called consensus of Ms Malkin with facts, measurements, or observations could arguably be called absurd. A better adjective, however, would be inane.

There are a plethora of opinions out there in all the media, old and new. But it is more important than ever to get out there and read and decide for yourself. I know I won't let a would-be host of a would-be cable channel shape my perceptions. I hope that Current TV's 4499 other viewers will do likewise.

PS: Here is a dead-on description of current tv from slate.com.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're reading way too much into things. I think "absurd" is a fit defintion for any extemist pundit, right or left. Had Michael Moore been called absurd, you probably would have nodded. That's not fair and balanced. That's a double standard. And you're way too hard on Current TV. All this venom for Al Gore. You hate on him like he made the antithesis to Fox News, when he didn't. In fact, Current might be the most objective channel on TV in that a viewer who doesn't agree with what he sees can go out, make a short piece, send it in, and it'll probably get on the air. You know, instead of snarky blog entries that preach to the choir? Just a thought.

Bob W. said...

Anonymous,
thanks for checking into my blog, and I appreciate the comments, too. I disagree with you on a couple of points, though:

1. I don't think everyone who attempts to argue a point on the left or the right is extremist or absurd as the word is defined in the english language. I found Current TVs description of Ms Malkin as absurd to be insulting, arbitrary, and dismissive. A person who had never heard of her before would could easily form an opinion that anything she writes or says is meaningless, and I believe this would be unfair. Again, this is not because I agree or disagree with Malkin's views, but because I strongly disagree with the uninformed, biased swipe the host took at her. And I would feel the same way if it had been a Michael Moore or Daily Kos who had been dismissed so out of hand.

2. You said that I hate Al Gore; untrue! I can't think of anyone I hate (although I hate traffic and standing in long lines if the truth must be told). I think Al Gore is an honest man, and was obviously a very successful career politician. I put his name in there with a link to Wikipedia def on Current TV because I think it is somewhat humorous that Al Gore is the co-founder of a cable channel aimed at twentysomethings. I always felt that VP Gore, especially in the 2000 campaign and afterward, projected a tone-deaf unhipness, or a rather wooden persona, in most of his public appearances. Hence I found humor in the fact that this somewhat stuffed shirt now helms a channel attempting to be MTV with a brain.

3. I think you make a strong argument for Current TVs format, and maybe I was a bit dismissive of it in my own post. I think a channel that allows viewers to submit content is unique, and that there is value in this. However, the Malkin piece was actual programmed network content by one of the channels host, Conor Knighton, NOT a pod submitted by viewers. The bias displayed in the programmed network piece is what I found inappropriate. Also, I was making fun of the fact that current tv really hasn't found a sizeable audience in the last six months; a recent article in the SF Weekly (check it out at http://www.sfweekly.com/issues/2006-02-08/news/news.html?src=news_rss) points out that only a handful of cable providers are carrying the channel, and that its perceived audience is so small that AC Nielsen doesn't even bother measuring it. As good or bad as current tv may be, it is hard for people to tell, because no one is really watching the channel.


3. I never try to "preach to the choir"; there is no point in writing something solely for people who agree with me. In fact, I am quite happy to get comments or emails from people like you, who disagree with what I post. My purpose in running this blog is to: (a) provide a meaningful forum for the exchange of ideas; and (b) sharpen my writing ability. Choir preaching was never a purpose or a goal!

Thanks for commenting on my post anonymous, and I hope you didn't find my response to be overkill. I appreciate your input, and hope you come back from time to time to check out what's being written here! Bob W.

PS: I am really the pot calling the kettle black when I poke fun at Current TVs miniscule audience, since a whopping 100 unique visitors has drifted across this blog in the last three months!!!

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