Cable News Confidential

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Hannah Arendt, in an essay on Socrates, wrote that a statesman of high caliber listens— meaning, attempts to understand another speaker’s views. Charles Lindbergh and Joseph P. Kennedy obviously failed to listen to signals from their own countrymen; for, they hitched their star to Hitler. They figured if he won the war, they’d reap the spoils. Strangely, in 1968, even Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. was fooled by the “new Nixon” who was actually the same old vicious, wily, power-hungry criminal. It pays to listen to the other side to see historical behavioral patterns that aren’t going to change.


The Book of the Week is “Cable News Confidential, My Misadventures in Corporate Media” by Jeff Cohen published in 2006. The author was born in the 1950’s in the Detroit area. He detailed the now-expected, and standard: hypocrisy, shenanigans, unfairness and imbalance he encountered while appearing as a political commentator at three different cable channels into 2004.

Beginning in 1997, the author appeared as a Left-wing panelist on the TV show, Fox News Watch. Also present were a Right-winger and a Centrist. On Fox, Cohen was allowed to bite the hand that fed him– criticizing the media for its biases, profiteering, smears and lies, etc. during his five-minute appearances on political shows. He believed that the commentary was actually politically balanced for about a year. Thereafter, Right-wingers became the majority.

In the summer of 1999, George W. Bush’s cousin John Ellis wrote in a Boston Globe column that his covering the 2000 presidential-voting results on election night in November would be a conflict of interest. Nevertheless, Ellis was doing exactly that, on Fox News, wrongly announcing, at 2:16am Wednesday, the day after election day, that Bush was the winner in Florida and therefore, Bush had won the presidency. Unsurprisingly, Cohen personally witnessed Ellis’ kind of unethical behavior over and over again.

From January to August 1998, MSNBC covered Bill Clinton’s sex life with Monica Lewinsky. Too bad, Lewinsky missed a valuable opportunity to become a political activist. Instead of allowing the media to shame her, she could have engaged in a public relations coup with the right messaging.

Anyway, in May 2001, Chandra Levy– a female intern– went missing, at which time the major cable “news” stations put her boss Democrat Congressman Gary Condit under the microscope nonstop until September 10, 2001. Other “news” stories the idiot box could have covered instead included:

  • On September 9, 2001, secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld was demanding billions of dollars to fund the creation of weaponry to defend against America’s enemies’ ballistic missiles. But, contrarily, he was saying that the president was opposing the U.S. Senate’s proposal that would shift the funding of said weaponry to fund counter-terror measures.
  • On September 10, 2001, U.S. intelligence agents heard al-Qaeda members utter the phrases, “the match begins now” and “tomorrow is zero hour.” But, contrarily, head of the Justice Department, John Ashcroft opposed the FBI’s request to add tens of millions of dollars to its budget to hire additional personnel to counter terror threats.

Cohen was constantly backing up his arguments with facts, such as when Chris Matthews basically denied that the United States did not send its military into other countries willy-nilly– that Iraq in 2003 was an exception. Cohen countered with occasions after 1945 during which America was an aggressor, that included 21 different territories into the single-digit 2000’s.

Read the book to learn much more about the author’s dismay with his employers’ practices that included much, much more Right-wing commentary than Left, and lack of fact-checking.


By agreeing to debate and softening his rhetoric, Donald Trump is showing he has reached the bargaining stage of grief, in the death of his political career. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY HIS “NEW NIXON” ACT.