Poor Quality American News

By Tacitus · 35 replies
Aug 1, 2006
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  1. Hi,

    I'm from England and have not had much experience watching American news channels. I don't know if Americans share my opinion, but to me MSNBC is a terrible news channel! I tuned into this 'Tucker' guy over the internet, and was quite frankly shocked by the amount of opinion, poor analysis, and sensationalism his show had. Aside from this, his hugely inflated ego shone through his reporting and sickened me.

    A perfect example of this was 'Everybody, including me, sympathises with Israel’s position, they are simply defending themselves'. You can't say opinions like that on a news channel, especially when you claim to be representing all America's opinion by saying 'everybody'! Another example includes his report on Mel Gibson's outburst against Jews. His reply to a guest's statement that Jews would forgive Gibson was something like 'Yeah but Christians will also be appalled, I’m a Christian and I’m appalled, this guy is deranged'. What is this?!

    Another amazing incident was when, after listening to some politician say 'We should LEVEL Falluja' Tucker, the news anchor, proceeded to imitate him by shouting 'Lets level the place! Let’s kill everyone and make it a parking lot!' He was obviously being sarcastic, but News Anchors simply should'nt do that.

    This quality of news is quite frankly appalling. I'm used to watching the BBC, where there is no/very very little opinion conveyed. The facts are reported as they are, and News Anchors certainly don’t voice their own opinion, unless its over something light hearted and funny, not something like a touchy middle eastern conflict. I thought Sky News was poor quality and sensationalist, but this Tucker guy takes it to another level. If a media company chooses to report news, you can't lace it with News Anchors opinions and sick jokes! They’re morphing one of the outlets the American public uses to get its information from the outside world. Freedom of unbiased information is supposed to be a democratic right, something that America likes to boast about when it exports democracy to other places, saying how they are unlike previous governments who censor heavily. I understand poor quality news isn’t quite the same as censorship, but it bares similarities (i.e. morphing news output).

    As I said, I don’t have much experience of American news, so other channels might not be like this. Who is this Tucker *****? Do people take him seriously? Is he a proper News Anchor or is his show supposed to be a sort of 'after hours' light hearted take on serious world issues? What is the opinion of American members on this board about this muppet and about American news quality in general?
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    'Tucker' is a debate show, not what would be considered a real news program. While Tucker is a news anchor, his show isn't journalism, but editorialism... Which feeds off of opinions and debate.

    He's been on other shows such as Crossfire and The Spin Room, both of which are debate shows. These shows are not to be confused with objective news.

    Objective news might include Headline News (HNN), which is a news channel operated by Cable News Network (CNN)... And has real news, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This might be a bit like your BBC news channel. CNN also has their own channel which has many different types of 'news', but some are objective, others are subjective.

    There's also other national and local news programs, usually one for each major network. For example, FOX, CBS, ABC all have news programs which are based locally in your area. They only show a couple times of day for a half-hour to an hour and focus mostly on local news and big, national headlines.

    I can't imagine a reason why U.S. news would be less professional than any other country's news.
  3. Peddant

    Peddant TS Rookie Posts: 1,446

    I think MSNBC has other commentators of a more liberal persuasion.
    Their overall balance isn`t too bad.At least they`re not Fox.
    The worst thing on that channel is Rita Cosby.

    In my opinion Lara Logan from CBS should be given her own channel
    and allowed to deliver all the news everywhere.:grinthumb


    But seriously,If you want straight news in America you have to watch PBS or BBC World Service.
  4. Tacitus

    Tacitus TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    We have debate shows over here, such as 'Newsnight' which is done by the BBC. This show takes current issues and has people in to debate them, but not once does the presenter (usually Paxman the axe man) voice his own personal opinions, but rather puts some interpretations of the event to the guest for answering. If you simply watched Paxman on the screen, you'd never know what his religion is or what his personal opinion is. There's no sensationalism, no silly jokes and no ego, just good quality debate.

    I think with 24 hour news channels you’re almost asking for sensationalism, as the channel has to broadcast all day with only snippets of news, so they're obviously blown up to fill in the time. BBC News 24 is generally slightly lower quality than say, BBC news at 10 or Channel 4 news at 7 (as they’re individual broadcasts), but even then its no way near the low quality of 'Tucker'.

    It may the case that the BBC has always seemed very restrained and 'middle class' in its broadcasting of news, and even though I’m what people might call 'working class', I like it that way.

    I see that Peddant views Fox News as garbage, and since it's owned by the same guy (Rupert Murdoch) who owns Sky News over here, it could be argued that commercially owned news will always be lower quality than state run news, as it needs to entertain as much as inform in order to make a profit (Though I'm no socialist who loves nationalisation.)

    It also seems like American news is like show business, I mean just look how well groomed that girl is.
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    I don't know what you are doing Tacitus, but with only 6 posts (2 of them in this thread) at the time I am replying. But comming to a computer forum and discussing how 'bad' American news is because you saw 1 dude's editorial/opinion news is pretty poor form.

    You should re-read Rick's post. There is CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, WGN and several others that report the news here, you saw ONE show that isn't even supposed to be real news and you blanket American news as Poor Quality.

    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you took that as some 100% truth, no opinion non biased news, and just didn't realize the purpose of that show.

  6. KingCody

    KingCody TS Evangelist Posts: 992   +8

    lol :haha: well in a way it is... I don't know how it is on your side of the pond, but in the US we have many choices on where to get our news from. so they have to be competitive to stay on the air.

    I agree that fox news is far from "fair and balanced", like they claim to be. they clearly push a conservative ideology. but at the same time I wouldn't consider PBS to be any better, as they clearly push a liberal ideology. (the difference is that PBS is at least in part funded by my tax dollars... I do have a problem with that). I do not consider myself to be conservative or liberal, because there are valid points that both parties make. I have no loyalty to either side.

    an rick is right on the money when he stated that there is a difference between a news show and a debate show. In a news show, I would expect to hear straight-forward unbiased information (although even that is very rare these days). in a debate show, I would expect to hear opinions as well as fact. everyone participating in the debate show should be able to voice their opinion (including the host).

    just my 2 cents... cheers :wave:
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    BBC or PBS ??? those liberal left-wing news channels?

    you GOT to be joking.
  8. Peddant

    Peddant TS Rookie Posts: 1,446

    I was half joking,but at least we can completely agree on Lara. :)

    As for the subject,taking the point that you can`t judge the entire news media of a country of 300 million
    people in 50 +states,on the basis of one individual,I would just like to help Tacitus out here.;)

    All he is nearly saying,is that America doesn`t have a BBC - which is true.
    (a good thing too says Tedster).

    There are a number of private media companies owned by media moguls,
    who want people to watch their particular news + commercial breaks.

    BTW In fairness to Lara Croft,(I mean Logan),she has won lots of awards for her
    war reporting,and used to work for Reuters.She was born in South Africa,educated
    in France,and lives in London with a basketball player.Of course I`m not in love.
  9. IBN

    IBN TS Guru Posts: 487

    If one cant differentiate between actual news and propaganda/"opinion"/"analysis" etc then dont watch it.

    The media isnt a divine source of information many of us take it to be. The media is a "tool" and it is used to achieve ends.

    You mentioned Paxman: "no silly jokes and no ego, just good quality debate"
    Paxman is very arrogant and does from time to time use insults. He is known for it, thats his "style".

    In a "News Show" there isnt just news, there's opinion and propaganda there too.

    The BBC isnt that great, but I would say its the lesser evil compared to Sky News (The British equivilent of FOX News). There in the UK they have regional news after the National Headlines. In particular the London Regional News is a joke!

    "Panorama" a documentary programme is another joke. Though I must say sometimes they do produce some good documentaries.

    Every newspaper in the United Kingdom is more or less affiliated with a particular political party. How can one then read them and take it as news?

    Political leaders actively seek the support of Editors and Rupert Murdoch. Why? The reason is because they know they are the ones that control the headlines.

    As they say, dont believe everything you read in newspapers. That would go for all media facets.
  10. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Gotta have something good to look at. :slurp:

    What you are seeing as 'how well groomed' someone is might reflect a shallow peculiarity of superficial American culture - But having a make-up crew and dropping a couple hundred thousand on cosmetic enhancements doesn't affect the quality of U.S. News, now does it? :giddy:
  11. Tacitus

    Tacitus TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    How am I blanketing American news? I said in my first post

    "As I said, I don’t have much experience of American news, so other channels might not be like this. Who is this Tucker *****? Do people take him seriously? Is he a proper News Anchor or is his show supposed to be a sort of 'after hours' light hearted take on serious world issues? What is the opinion of American members on this board about this muppet and about American news quality in general?"

    The thread title obviously contradicts this, but I used it as it was punchier and succinct than 'The poor quality of the Tucker debate show on MSNBC'

    To SNGX, what difference does my having 6 posts make? Do I need to be extra nice to make a good impression to people who have 4000 posts like you? No I don’t, because you don’t own this forum any more than I do. And as for coming to a computer forum, I posted it in the ‘meeting spot’ area, alongside posts that argue about Guitars. It is also relevant to tech, as we watch and read much of our news through many different tech mediums.

    As soon as I found out this Tucker guy was from a debate show, I stopped comparing him to news channels, but to our own debate shows, the other points I made in my second post were somewhat off topic, and just my opinion on related issues, such as 24hour news arguably being lower quality.

    IBN can have whatever opinions about Paxman, and yes he does have a 'style', but his opinions are very rarely conveyed, and other anchors on the show are even more reserved than he is (I doubt there’d ever be imitations of people they’re interviewing). Panorama isn’t really a debate show, so comparisons can't be made. Question Time however is, and the anchor himself very rarely puts in his 2 cents, but simply acts as a medium between the audience and panellists, who voice their opinions (which is acceptable)

    I'll ignore Tedsters comments, as judging from his military logo, his location at a 'Fort Hood' in Texas and his signature being about Vietnam, there’s a chance he views everything that isn’t stars and stripes as commie scum (how on earth is the BBC left wing?)

    I agree with IBN that newspapers are all affiliated with different political parties, but I disagree that we should expect the same from news channels, or even be content with the state media is in. Additionally, it’s more the tabloid papers that are blatantly politically sided, and they don’t really convey news anyway, unless sex, scandal and gossip count as news. Broadsheets like The Times (decent quality although it is also owned by Murdoch) and the Independent are more or less central in their views, with the Telegraph and Guardian being right and left wing respectively

    I’m not necessarily saying that Lara Logan’s impeccable grooming standards are proportional to news quality, just that is hints that with such a wide array of news channels in America, entertaining the viewers may become nearly as important as informing them, a mix that doesn’t work well in my opinion.

    As far as news shows over here go, there isn’t really that much political propaganda in them, at least regarding channel 4 and BBC. This may be because BBC is funded by tax, and not by a private company, so is not there to convey their news (nor is it there to convey what the government tells it to, as it works independently from it). Judging from this, and the lower quality of the privately owned Sky News over here, an argument could be made that some privately owned American Channels could be lower quality as their status as privately owned leaves them open to having a lot of propaganda and ‘half truths’, something that might happen less in a state owned (but independent) channel.

    As for my limited experiences of American news (though I do watch CNN and ABC sometimes), I asked my brother, who spends much of his time on business in New York, if he agreed. He too reckons American news quality is lower than British news quality.

    I can also see this thread getting confrontational (chiefly because of SNGX), I’m not here to cause trouble or rile up a flame war, I just wanted to discuss something which I don’t have much experience about with Americans, so I can get a better picture of what the real deal is.

    Thanks for clearing up my half informed views so far,

  12. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Have you ever seen an ugly TV news anchor?

    From what I've seen in news broadcasts in many countries is that the people have a sense of humour, and possibly it's a way to cope with bad news. I'm not saying that they're joking all the time though.
  13. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    You blanketed American news with the topic of the thread.

    You don't need to be extra nice, but when someone comes here and almost instantly posts something like this just seems a bit odd and like you were comming here to start a fight.

    Your statement about Lara Logan's grooming.. well what about Melissa Theuriau, I think France wins that title. By your logic maybe French news is poor quality because they have a hot anchor.

    EDIT: Appears my link may contain advertisements that are not appropriate for younger viewing audiences.

    If you are under 18 or otherwise offended please do not click the above link and instead click here.
  14. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    That hot anchor has to be on some pvt channel (xxx?) because I would love to hear bad news from her. :D
  15. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,182   +469

    Tedster's opinions don't matter then? And yours do?
  16. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    America is run by the Entertainment industry. Didn't you know? Our TVs and books and movies, and everything else, tells us what to believe. Rich actors and actresses tell us what to believe with their characters and acceptance speeches.

    Tell me, about news in general, can it be just as bad to hear certain news, or not to hear it?
    That is, we form our opinions based on what they tell us. Well what about the stuff they DON'T tell us? That can be just as critical, in my thinking. Millions of people's minds can be swayed to believe a certain thing, just because PART of the story was NOT reported. Only the part they wanted you to hear and believe.

    Woops, that's off topic. Anyway, I don't care for watching or reading news right now. I always have the feeling that I'm just being told what some big-wig wants me to know. All we ever get reported is the bad news and who got killed next. But we rarely see reported the good things that are happening, because they just aren't as exciting I guess.

    As for hot anchors, well, as for American news being more entertainment focuses? I have one word.......Nakednews. Can't go much farther then that with the entertainment value!
    And NO, I'm not into it, I'm just aware of its existance, that's all. But it's relevant to the conversation. Not even sure if NN is American anyway. I just thought it was funny, talking about hot anchors with a pretty face, how about anchors who, well never mind.

    This whole conversation on news does make one wonder just where they should get their news from?

    Here is a question to throw out there: So what if news is biased, does that make it any less true or news-worthy?
    If I listened to a Christian news channel, where things about Isreal are reported and mostly positive talk about George W and so forth; is it less true then listening to news on the other side, which bashes George W for some of the same things, but mostly reports the bad?
    Both are equally news, but both may be equally leaving some facts out.

    Ok, you guessed it, I'm just no fan of news!
  17. IBN

    IBN TS Guru Posts: 487

    "Panorama isn’t really a debate show, so comparisons can't be made."

    There are documentaries that appear on Panorama that are debatable. In shows such as these there isnt the opportunity given to the documented parties to have a fair rebuttle. The whole show is cutted and edited and emphasis is given on the conclusion of the reporter.

    Question Time is better than Newsnight. But there are problems there too. The panel has to be balanced. Only the panelists opinions on issues are heard. If the whole panel has the same opinion, the debate cant be fair on the issue in question.

    "As far as news shows over here go, there isn’t really that much political propaganda in them, at least regarding channel 4 and BBC."

    There is, and plenty of it indeed. But like I said, less so sometimes compared to other News Channels. There was a new News Channel in the UK that didn't last long but i kind of liked it a bit, ITV News i think or was it ITN News. It was a 24/7 news channel but it didnt last long.

    Broadsheets and Tabloids both have some sort of political affiliation. The Guardian and The Econoimist aren't as bad but that doesnt mean they're not.
  18. Peddant

    Peddant TS Rookie Posts: 1,446

    It was a provocative title,but what`s wrong with that ?

    If it had been something like "Media values and news priorities in selected Western democracies"
    most people would just move on to a thread about video cards or BSODs.

    Tacitus hits some targets and misses a few(notably the Tedster debacle :) ),but as Vigilante said,
    this sort of discussion makes people think about what they are watching and reading.

    BTW can we forget Lara(difficult) that was my red herring.She`s actually actually
    the real Mcoy as a journalist,and she lives 30 miles from me,in England.Ha!
  19. Tacitus

    Tacitus TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    (If you can’t be bothered reading my replies to other posts just skip to last paragraph)

    I wasn’t being malicious to Tedster; I was only light heartedly saying it as I saw his comment as being light hearted. The guy has also helped me out with a graphics card problem I posted.

    Also to SNGX, starting a fight is the last thing I want to do here, as my experience of reading on this website long before I joined is that there are few flame wars and everything is kept civilised, something I want to keep intact. I said myself my title was a blanket statement, but as Peddant has pointed out, using a long winded (but more accurate) title would probably mean no-one would bother having a look at it. I also said at the end of my first post that my generalisations might not apply to all American news. I also don't want to make an enemy of you, SNGX.

    I also have to say that French anchor is HOT. I think the aesthetic quality of news anchors being proportional to news quality is getting away from my main point; I just used it as a convenient (but probably inaccurate) parallel. There might also be a hint of jealousy as BBC has quite a few damn ugly news anchors (but at least they deliver news well).

    To Mict, I’m not saying anchors should be machines that deliver news in a monotone voice, but they shouldn’t make jokes out of serious issues like Tucker did (I know this comparison is inaccurate as Tucker is debate, as you all pointed out). I also don’t watch news to listen to light hearted jokes, or to be entertained, or pleasured by hot women delivering headlines, I just want to be informed.

    To Vigilante, far right wing and far left wing news are just as bad as each other in many senses, which is why so many people don't respect people on the far right/left of any spectrum. They are indulging in extremes and never have the full picture. The best news is the news from the centre stance, not only because it has the least left/right bias, but also that most people have centre left/centre right views on things as they are the most informed (and therefore least extreme) views. It is also impossible to procure the absolute truth, as although an event does happen and has an absolute sequence of events, as soon as it is interpreted by a human is immediately becomes morphed (no two interpretations are exactly the same). If there is such thing as a Christian News channel in the USA thats simply disgraceful, no wonder you get *****s like Mel Gibson over there.

    This is incidentally something I’m very interested in as I study History (hopefully at Oxford next year!) – If you are interested on how we can interpret events (and whether it is even possible to do so) Vigilante, reading E.H Carr's 'What is History' is a great starter. I'm also going to be editing my College History mag next year, so the idea of how to convey historical (and current) events is of great importance in maintaining the mag's quality

    I'm not trying to say news should be totally objective, as this is impossible, I’m just saying it should be as objective as possible as fabricating an event with layers of bias and opinion does the people who want to be informed no favours, and is morally wrong.

    To IBN, I don’t know if your American or British, but you’re obviously informed about the British media. Question Time does allow for the better (and more clearly defined) transmission of opinion, and as you said this is damaged if panellists aren’t diverse. The case is they usually are (and they are often well known opinionated people, such as columnists, authors, or politicians) and it is clear that the whole point of the show is the opinions of the audience are to put the panellists, who react with their own opinions. The point is these debate shows are clearly defined as debate, which means the presence of opinion in them is fine. However I see a big difference in that even on these British debate shows; the anchor doesn’t get involved, as he represents a news company, whose job isn’t to provide opinion, but to deliver news, and if opinion is conveyed, it’s always someone else’s, not his own.

    How can you say ITV/ITN (pretty much same thing) is good quality?! It’s worse than Sky News (perhaps because ITV (I standing for Independent) is privately owned). There’s a reason why it didn’t last.

    Broadsheets and Tabloids do both share opinion, but it is often less marked in the Broadsheets, as the more extensive column space given to actual news and not celebrity gossip allows for a more qualified, less biased conveyance of news. I don’t know how you can say ‘The Guardian’ is good quality, as it is one of the most sickeningly left wing papers I’ve ever read. The Economist (which I proudly have a yearly subscription to) is a great newspaper/magazine, which gives extensive analysis (and clearly sets it’s stance as free market). The difference is I buy this magazine to read analysis and opinion, and the mag clearly states it is merely conveying opinion. I don’t watch the news hear this opinion – I want objective fact from it.

    My long winded replies to other people’s threads have had me drift of my point. I have been watching A LOT of American news since I posted (ABC, Fox, CNN, some other one that has a rainbow logo), and I personally think it is a lesser quality. Vigilante’s point about what isn’t said is very marked in American news in my opinion, as headline news is even more streamlined than it is over here. Everything also seems very slick and very glossy, almost as if you’re watching a business in action, something that is worrying. I found Larry King on the internet, and although he’s pretty good, his interviewees are usually celebrities, so Paxman beats the crap outta him.

    Thanks again to everyone for your opinions, which have been very informing, and remember that i'm not tring to cause trouble here.

  20. KingCody

    KingCody TS Evangelist Posts: 992   +8

    here's one :haha: :giddy: :haha:

  21. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    Tacitus, you sound like the kind of guy who likes to have the last word :) Are you a female? lol

    In response to your response to me personally, I am on the whole agreed with you. But the point I was trying to make is, if a particular brand of news is, say, far right-wing or left, does the stuff they report still any less factual news? And it becomes right or left based equally on presentation as it is facts left out?

    I guess you are right in saying that it is the interpretation, or indeed just the way the news is presented, can show the bias. If a man shoots another man who breaks into his house, that news can be presented as a brutal murder, or as a man defending his home. We, the general public, simply take it as given.

    Swell, now I'm talking conspiracy!

    Anyhoo, I'll look up that book you mentioned. Nice conversation, I always like a good thought-provocing topic to get away from "my X is broken!".
  22. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Meh.. she doesn't look more or less beautiful than many others in Spain, France, Italy, Japan etc.

    But it's in the eye of the beholder.
  23. Nukey

    Nukey TS Rookie Posts: 110

    Wow. He uses "Just For Men". Instant hair regrowth in under 10 hours... :D
  24. Tacitus

    Tacitus TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Heh, no I'm not female, I musta got that last word habit from my girlfriend :p.

    I just don't want to mis-interpreted for stirring up trouble.

    I've kind of got the flavour of what you’re saying Vigilante, but if you worded your sentences better I could probably give you a better answer.

    I might be missing your point, but if something is heavily biased, then it generally is less objectively factual. As for how something is made left or right wing, I agree with you that presentation and the omission of inconvenient facts have a major input on how the news is conveyed. I think presentation, the presence of opinion and the choice of words are the major factors however. I can't really qualify my answer anymore as I'm not entirely sure what you’re saying and I might be missing your point.
  25. AtK SpAdE

    AtK SpAdE TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,495

    Nicely Said.

    As opposed to what? Fox News? The options are just not there.

    I do not watch any Cable New programs. They want ratings, and I want news, that doesn't mix.

    As I was the editor of my high school paper, and am going for a minor in journalism, I encourage anyone to read, The elements of Journalism, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. If really defines what the real elements of journalism are.

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