October 12, 2009

(h/t Heather at VideoCafe)

Granted, it's hard to hear because the voices speak over each other, but the graphics are pretty clear: this ad for Anderson Cooper 360 was meant to claim that Anderson Cooper challenges the status quo and goes beyond partisan spin. Whether the ad is true or not is arguable, but the fact that it mentions both the right and the left is not.

Which makes this op-ed in Time Magazine by Michael Scherer that much more puzzling:

White House Communications Director Anita Dunn appeared Sunday morning on Howard Kurtz's CNN show Reliable Sources to discuss her comments in my TIME magazine story this week. She continued her criticism of Fox News[..].

The ironic part came later, during the commercial break. All morning, CNN has been intermittently running a promo for Anderson Cooper 360, a show that has long billed itself as a classic straight news program with an investigative front man who digs "beyond the headlines" with "many points of view, so you can make up your own mind." The new promo, by contrast, consists of a woman's voice, pitching Cooper's show as, essentially, a liberal alternative to Fox News: "I'm a lifelong Democrat," she says, "and that's why I watch Anderson Cooper." Hmmm. The voice goes on to say that Cooper is the person she can turn to hold "right wing" conservatives accountable. Cooper is not exactly aiming for the political middle ground here.

But then who is? MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz are committed liberals, increasingly focused on the dual project of holding President Obama to a liberal line and attacking his detractors. Fox News, on the other hand, is, well, Fox News. Dunn, on Kurtz's show, made a point of criticizing Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace for "fact checking" an Obama administration official but not its other Republican guests. So it goes.

Interesting. So Scherer thinks that Cooper is playing to the left like those other "committed" liberals on MSNBC. And lemming-like, here comes Dan Abrams, tweeting from his new gig at Mediaite:

UPDATE to WH-Fox 'Gloves off' post: CNN promo calls Anderson Cooper left's answer to FNC.

The only problem? There's no there there. Cooper wasn't playing to the left, as Scherer was forced to acknowledge in an update:

CORRECTION: Ahh, the pitfalls of technology. In the post below, I wrote about an ad that kept running Sunday morning on CNN, which I watched in the background as I scribbled away at my office. Several times, I heard an ad for Anderson Cooper's show that included a woman's voice talking about being a "lifelong Democrat" and watching Cooper because he called out the "right wing." But that's not the whole story. I was told Monday by CNN that I only heard half the ad, which was dubbed in stereo. (Apparently my television is mono.) The other half of the ad had a male voice saying he was a Republican who turns to Anderson Cooper because he holds accountable "left wing politicians." The two voices are recorded to be talking over each other, reaffirming CNN's place in the center of the cable news spectrum. This makes my subsequent analysis largely wrong. Cooper was not signaling a shift to cater to a left-wing audience. He was signaling that he wanted both a left-wing and a right-wing audiences at the same time. The CNN dream of post-partisanship, in other words, is still alive.

Actually, Michael, your analysis is not largely wrong, but completely wrong. As polarized as this country is now (a fact for which I hold the media mostly accountable), it is not the desire of the entire country to get their news filtered through ideological lenses, confirming their pre-conceived notions. Fox unapologetically fills a niche for a select few, who cannot stand to have their ideas challenged. But MSNBC, despite shows with Maddow (the only self-professed liberal listed), Olbermann and Schultz does not cater to the left. If they did, would they fill 15 hours every week (the same as Maddow, Olbermann and Schultz put together) with Scarborough?

And for what its worth, I actually watch Maddow not for a liberal slant, but because she strives to actually present the news, not propaganda. But that seems to be a dying breed in your industry, doesn't it?

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