I hate cable news. There I said it.
Perhaps my hatred for the medium has always existed, like a naturally-born aversion to rotten food or the smell of crap. But it was clearly manifested during the 2008 election when I, like many other rubes, was glued to my TV set daily for the latest updates about the intense campaigns.
Even though I had formed my opinion and was convinced of who I was going to vote for (I'll let you figure that one out), I still watched the news regularly for some reason. Maybe I was antsy and was hoping that the constant barrage of noise and nonsense would convince me that my side was winning out over the other side.
This, despite the fact that nobody knew who was going to win the election, until the votes were in on November 8.
What I did discover in those months of flipping back and forth between such cesspools as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC is that cable news has virtually nothing to offer.
While there are seasons of intense change, with events unfolding at an almost breakneck pace, you'd be hard-pressed to find real justification for a 24-hour news channel. Even they don't offer a complete 24 hours of news, given that late night programming is re-airings of earlier shows. But even with a semi-full day of news content, there is shockingly little that warrants that much attention.
Newspapers and websites like TrigTent tend to be a better alternative (obviously), because contributors can take the time to research an issue before reporting or discussing it. Even with regular updates, a website does not have the pressure to constantly stream content in order to keep TV advertisers happy.
That pressure seems to have produced a very ugly monster. And no, I'm not talking about those plastic faces that appear on your screen.
Cable news- like most TV news- thrives on creating a kind of hysteria. They want you, the viewer, to be in constant worry or fear about everything, so that you're glued to their channel. Even the bumps between segments feature stress-inducing music and sound effects, to make what you're about to hear sound incredibly urgent.
I'm surprised they don't use police sirens.
The content itself is pretty worthless. They find the top news of the day, repeat it over and over again, and pad most of their shows with "expert" commentary from bloated pundits that have little to contribute.
Yes, you just watched the Speaker of the House make a statement about Obamacare. Now you get to spend five hours listening to other people tell you what he said. Instead of forming your own opinion about the matter, you are supposed to believe what these idiots behind a desk are saying.
Obviously, cable news is a form of entertainment. It's not news. The real news slips in from time to time, but the lion’s share of the content is built around talking heads arguing and spinning issues for their own agenda.
This is even true of Fox News, which has a reputation for being the conservative choice in the sea of liberal media outlets.
We can argue over whether or not the station is actually conservative, considering that much of its staff, owners, and coverage skew left. Sure a few of their personalities, like Sean Hannity, are very much conservative (even pro-Trump), but even CNN and MSNBC have their token right-wingers.
Fox News has survived a very cluttered media landscape thanks largely to this misconception. They don't even have to work very hard to maintain it. As other outlets get more and more liberal, they just have to maintain a largely moderate view to appear as a strong alternative to everyone else. As NBC, CNN, New York Times, Huffington Post, and the others say the same exact thing, Fox News just has to be slightly conservative to stand out.
But the election of Donald Trump has sent shockwaves through every facet of our society, not just politics. News outlets are still reeling from the reality that they were incapable of getting Hillary Clinton elected and thus protecting the legacy of their baby boy Obama. And even longtime "conservative" outlets like Fox News were exposed as the liberal shills they are.
You may not have been watching them on Election Night 2016, but I was. When you have an entire room of pundits, mealy-mouthed and chagrined over the growing reality that the Republican candidate just won the election, you can't claim to be conservative.
Then there was the fact that Megyn Kelly was leading the procession, a woman that dumped the network for a top spot on another channel. Regardless of Fox News' leaning, they aren't making the best decisions these days.
Not long ago Roger Ailes was forced to resign after allegations of sexual harassment. The longtime leader of the network, who helped it establish a conservative reputation and become the media juggernaut it was, was abandoned by his company because of a few claims from women.
It seems like sexual harassment is the new tool used to destroy a person's career. I for one despise any form of sexism- so long as it is sexism. As a young man growing up in the 2000's, I've seen how crass, vile, and depraved men my age can be. It turns my stomach to think of how they treat women.
Yet in our overly litigious and politically correct business climate, a woman can easily manufacture stories of sexual harassment and get attention, even if those claims are baseless or wildly distorted. It's much like using the race card or crying homophobia; the liberal crowd will demand the offender's head before even seeing the evidence.
Now I don't know if Roger Ailes really did harass Carlson or Kelly- and I don't support it if he did. But it's very likely that despite the facts, Fox News abandoned an integral member of their company, simply to avoid a larger backlash from the public.
Companies and large organizations do that all that time. Rather than weather the storm of spurious charges and let the truth come out, they are quick to abandon people to save face. Disney did this after the liberal media attacked YouTube heavy-hitter PewDiePie over made up Nazi charges. Simon & Schuster did this to Milo over made up charges of pedophilia.
Now a few months later and Bill O'Reilly is on the chopping block. This one is even more bizarre for Fox News. It's clear that their new, younger owners don't have the same kind of balls that Papa Murdock had; or more likely, they are cleaning house to make the news outlet more progressive and liberal to meet their agenda.
Either way, for the network to drop O'Reilly over claims from a New York Times article is shocking. First of all, Bill has been accused of sexual harassment in the past. That makes the new claims believable, sure, but it makes Fox's decision now inconsistent. They've weathered this storm with Bill before and came out alright. But now these new rumors surface and he's gone? Doesn't seem right.
Now I'm no fan of Bill O'Reilly. And I don't defend any sexual harassment he may have committed. But considering the drastic changes the news world is undergoing these days, who is really going to suffer from Bill's departure?
Already Bill is bouncing back.
Just six days after he was ousted from Fox News after more than two decades at the network, Bill O'Reilly is getting back on the airwaves.
But the controversial former Factor host is trading the confines of his old studio for his own podcast, No Spin News.
The 67-year-old put up a plug for the podcast on his personal Saturday night, with an image at the top of the page showing him, along with the caption: 'no spin news returns.' (via Daily Mail)
In this day and age cable news is more irrelevant than it's ever been. Personalities like Bill can find more opportunity online through blogging, podcasting, and other media than with companies like Fox. Don't believe me? Check out this video about Fox News, paying special attention to when Gavin mentions their demographics.
Fox News' audience is shockingly old; just watching the adult diaper commercials they air proves that. By focusing his efforts online, Bill O'Reilly can capture the attention of a wider array of people. Plus he charges $50 a year to his listeners; that's not chump change.
In fact, all media personalities on cable news have other outlets to make cash and promote their careers. Anderson Cooper is a New York Times bestselling author. Tucker Carlson has his own breaking news website. Sean Hannity is a radio host. And Bill O'Reilly is a bestselling writer, has a popular website, and produces a podcast.
They all have a variety of means to expand their brand, reach new audiences, and earn cash outside of the traditional media. When changes come to the industry, these personalities are far more nimble to adapt and change to whatever might come, when compared to bloated old companies that have to sustain the paychecks of hundreds, if not more.
If you are interested in becoming a news pundit or writer today, your best bet is to start online. Newspapers and cable channels are on the way out, but a talented, ambitious journalist or commentator can launch a blog, YouTube channel, or podcast and grow from there.
Plus you have to consider that Bill O'Reilly was with Fox News from the very beginning, his show was the highest rated on the network, and he had (arguably) the most vocal and passionate fans. Firing him was like cutting off an arm.
It reminds me of when the BBC fired Jeremy Clarkson for punching a producer. Yeah, Jeremy was a short-tempered jerk who acted inappropriately. But he was the most popular host of the BBC's biggest show. The other hosts left with Jeremy and started their own hit show on Amazon. The new hosts of Top Gear? They're not doing so well.
The same will happen with Fox News. There is no way for them to know if they will survive without O'Reilly. They've lost plenty of staff in recent years; this might be the one that brings them down. Now, I'm not saying they will fold tomorrow, but without Bill, they might not be able to bring in enough viewers (even hate viewers) to stay the top dog.
Bill on the other hand? He will continue to do his podcast, beef up his website, and release book after book. He might even land a new gig on a rival network. He will continue his career as new outlets and technology create new opportunities.
Maybe Fox News will learn this lesson before it loses another host.