A tale of two networks

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Consider for a moment the circumstances surrounding Lou Dobbs' abrupt departure from CNN, announced last night and effective immediately. Dobbs had been going increasingly far afield in his programming, from spinning North American Union conspiracy theories, to indulging the Birther nonsense, to claiming that his opponents had taken to shooting at his house (the police said it was likely an errant bullet from a hunter's rifle). Notably, CNN itself debunked each of these stories. According to the New York Times write-up of Dobbs' exit, Dobbs' on-air behavior was apparently too much for the network to bear: "Months ago the president of CNN/U.S., Jonathan Klein, offered a choice to Lou Dobbs, the channel's most outspoken anchor. Mr. Dobbs could vent his opinions on radio and anchor an objective newscast on television, or he could leave CNN."

Now, contrast CNN's Dobbs situation to Fox News and its handling of Glenn Beck. In terms of delusional conspiracy-mongering and spittle-flecked invective, Dobbs is a stripling compared to Beck. Fox News' steady transition from untrustworthy cable news network to conservative political action committee can largely be attributed to Beck, whose 9-12 Project is wrapped up with the Tea Party movement. Except for those that buy into his fevered shtick, Beck is an embarrassment, an embodiment of everything that is wrong with cable news, and there is no greater example of this than when he called the President of the United States a "racist" who has "a deep-seated hatred for white people." The network lost scores of advertisers over that remark, and, as NBC's First Read pointed out, "[t]here was a time when outrageous rants like this would actually cost the ranters their jobs."

But what happened to Beck? He got a pat on the head from NewsCorp president Rupert Murdoch, who said Beck "was right" to call the president a "racist."

CNN's movement on Dobbs was long overdue, but they eventually decided that their credibility as a news network outweighed Dobbs' (rapidly dwindling) ratings. Fox News, on the other hand, shows no such concern with Beck, maybe because they didn't have a whole lot of credibility to sacrifice in the first place.

Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs
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