The Ultimate Guide to the Political Talk Shows

I am sick and tired. I have tried to watch them but I can’t stand it any more. They are hurting the political discourse in this country and outside the wonks who live and breathe politics, they have no relationship with average people. I’m talking about political talk shows. Here is the ultimate guide so you never have to watch them again.

I should clarify one point. The shows and the news in general on the broadcast networks have an effect on average people more than those on cable but all of them still are pretty much worthless unless you obsess about politics.

Ultimate Political Talk Show Guide

1. The shows covered under this guide is as follows: 

ABC This Week
CBS Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer
Fox Fox News Sunday w/ Chris Wallace
NBC Meet the Press with David Gregory
PBS The McLaughlin Group

CNN State of the Union with Candy Crowley
CNN Reliable Sources
MSNBC The Ed Show
MSNBC Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann
MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show
FOXNEWS Any show at any hour

2. Formats are pretty much the same in that they allow for unquestioning press release spin 

3 Except for the MSNBC shows, the spin is at least misleading and in most cases lies.

4. Again except for the MSNBC shows, the hosts never really ask follow up questions.

5. The shows all have the same guests and those guests lean toward the GOP with a token Democrat in some cases. Again MSNBC is the opposite – having mostly Democratic or left leaning guests but the GOP rarely appears on MSNBC shows even as tokens.

6. MSNBC shows are better because they at least stick with facts and the truth even when it looks bad for Democrats and liberals in general. The other shows “concern troll” for the Democrats on all topics and accept the GOP talking points as true on their face.

7. The hosts and/or guests on any FOX “News” shows are either stupid, racists, or both at the same time.

8. All shows tend to have stories and topics that are important only to those who live inside the Washington DC beltway. Occasionally, most likely the MSNBC shows will actually have a topic of importance to all Americans.

9. Most of these shows favor “drama” over substance where yelling and arguing is seen as “good”, except for Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann, and The Rachel Maddow Show. Or they obsess on the political process which is like watching sausage being made.

10. You don’t have to watch any of the shows live or on your DVR. You can go to the network websites and watch clips, watch the Daily Show and Colbert Report to get a funny take on what the shows have on, or visit these websites:

and for special handling of FOX “News” crap:

11. Although it seems some shows might be better than the others, at the end of the day you don’t need to watch them to keep yourself informed. They take up time better spent with friends and family and laughing and having fun.

Why do we need to make up Olympic Stars?

Saw an article today commenting that the injury to Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn “means [NBC] could suddenly be without its most bankable star.” But I question the need to create stars before they participate in the games.

NBC badly needs stars to emerge out of these games. It has already said it will lose money on the Olympics for the first time ever, the result of a too-generous bid to televise the Vancouver Games and false expectations that advertising prices would continue to rise. NBC also needs prime-time success to divert attention from its sagging prime-time lineup and late-night executive bungling.

Injury could deprive NBC of top star

Sure there are favorites going into the games but what if they fail to perform as expected. NBC wastes hours of video and “personal stories” covering a few “faces” as if we need an excuse to root for the team. I know they have hours to fill but it would be better to see more action rather than canned video of some “star” bagging groceries at home.

I get enjoyment out of “stars” who emerge from their performance in an unexpected way. The Turin 2006 men’s curling team comes to mind or Rulon Gardner the Greco-Roman wrestling gold medalist who came out of no where to win at the 2000 Summer games.

The best example is the 1980 men’s hockey team that beat the USSR. The slow burn of excitement is now a classic.

Sometimes I think focusing on a few “stars” causes more pressure than need be at the Olympics and just seems forced.

Conan gets the shaft – again

The news broke on Thursday that the NBC network planned to end the failed experiment of having Jay Leno doing a show at 10 PM weeknights. According to the ratings and the local network affiliates, Leno’s show is failing and hurting the local stations’ late news. Normally what happens is when a TV show is failing the show can get canceled but in this case, NBC may do something that screws their Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien – again.

Let me go back to the beginning.

Four or five years ago Jay Leno indicated he didn’t plan to be the host of the Tonight Show for 30 years like Johnny Carson did. The guy never spent his money from hosting the show, hardly took any time off, and continued to do his stand up act on the weekends and make other appearances. It was claimed at the time that Jay wanted to move on at some point and do other things.

NBC then decided to go ahead and name a new host so as to avoid the awful events of 1992 when Johnny Carson retired from the show and Jay and David Letterman, Johnny’s pick to host, battled for the spot. NBC picked Jay and Letterman bolted to CBS.

The network wanted Conan O’Brien, the host the Late Night show following Jay. It seemed in order to do that NBC had to pick a firm date for the transition to retain O’Brien. It picked 2009.

All was right in the world again.

Then Jay Leno changed his mind. 

Within months after the deal was announced, he started to complain that he didn’t want to leave as host of the Tonight Show. The ratings were decent and he enjoyed doing the show.

NBC was shocked. It now had to do something to keep Jay from going to another network and competing against O’Brien at the 11:35 PM hour. So it hit on the bright idea to give Jay the 10 PM slot weeknights. It would make him happy, the network could save some money by not having to fill the time with expensive programing, and Conan remained host of the Tonight Show. Jay accepted and all was right in the world.

Then the TV viewers spoke.

After the hosting switch and in September when Jay’s new show started ratings went downhill. The affiliates got mad because those poor ratings hurt their local news and Conan’s ratings then got hurt too.

NBC is planning to do something as it spent time on Thursday in meetings with the hosts and staff of both shows. The speculation is that Jay will go back to 11:35 PM for 30 minutes and then the Tonight Show will move to 12:05.

And all is right with the world again…. uh wrong.

Leno’s show sucked. He was off the air for 3 or 4 months – AND had 5 years of planning – to start the new show and all he ended up doing was rearrange the set and put on a new coat of paint. The Jay Leno Show was just the Tonight Show without the name. He added a couple of segments like video of guests driving cars around a track but 90% of his show is all the old stuff he did on the Tonight Show. It looks like he thought the reason the Tonight Show had good ratings was because of him alone. Wrong.

The reason the Tonight Show got good ratings was because it is THE Tonight Show and because Hugh Grant got caught with a hooker. Jay had nothing to do with it. At first Jay had also started a booking war and other behind the scenes problems that led to removing his long time manager as producer. His Tonight Show had been number one in the ratings for that time slot even as it lost viewers as NBC programing in general lost viewers putting the net in 4th place. Had it not been for Hugh Grant and his hooker, Jay might have been replaced as host a long time ago.

So NBC is going to reward Jay for changing his mind and tanking the 10 PM time slot rather than cutting him loose like they should have done when the transition took place last year.

Conan O’Brien, who is the future for their late night show, got the shaft when Jay changed his mind and got the 10 PM slot and now they seem ready to shaft him again by letting Jay come back at 11:35.

More on the incestuous nature of mainstream media

Many years ago there was a movie out called “They Live” Aliens had taken over the Earth and to keep the humans under control they used different means like camouflage and subliminal propaganda to mask their presence. The hero of the movie is given some special sun glasses that allows him to see the aliens and all the propaganda that wasn’t seen by the naked eye. He joins the resistance and fights the aliens. I tend to see the current mainstream media – the news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox networks as similar to the aliens and I wish I could give everyone sun glasses so they could see it too.

I have written many times about the incestuous relationship between the talking heads on news shows like Meet the Press, This Week, State of the Union, Fox Sunday, and the like. Regular “Joe the Plumber” conservatives cry about a liberal bias in the news yet these shows have no liberal bias. These shows tend to lean right or center right as the same people are on every week. 

They are allowed to make any kind of statement they want – even if it is a lie – and the hosts or moderator don’t challenge them about it. Also, even though the programs claims to be discussion shows, little is discussed. The networks seem to think that all policy views are equal and have a pro and con side while at the same time stacking the deck in favor of the party currently out of power – the GOP.

Blogger driftglass had an excellent post about this:

because George W. Bush’s codpiece was an Invincible Christian Peace Shield that would keep us all safe from the scary brown foreigners forever.

We were right. About everything.

They were wrong — tragically, catastrophically, completely wrong. About everything.

And yet they still are on the Inside. Sleek and prosperous.

While we still fight for scraps on the Outside.

On “Meet the Press”

A rich guy and his wife talked about giving.

And Reverend Rick Warren said “I’ve spoken at Davos many times…”

And then I turned the channel.

On “This Week” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) used his one appearance on national teevee to cock-punch Senator Lindsey Graham (R-John McCain’s underwear drawer) during his 355th such appearance.

The Roundtable consisted of one liberal — Paul Krugman — and four members-in-good-standing of the Conservative/Beltway Insider Axis; Matthew Dowd, George Will, Cokie Roberts and Dan Senor, who, if you didn’t know (because they didn’t mention it) was, among other things, Deputy to Bush White House Spokesliar Scott McClellan

[Senor] currently draws a paycheck playing pundit for…wait for it…Fox News, and completed the Beltway Insider circle of life by marrying CNN on-air personality Campbell Brown in 2006.

Yesterday he was brought on camera to share his infinite wisdom on the subject of foreign policy, because who on Earth could possibly be more credible and qualified? Except maybe Dick Cheney’s daughter?

Sunday Morning Comin’ Down

That’s why I refuse to watch those news programs and yesterday when President Obama gave his Afghanistan speech I turned off the analysis programs that followed.

The best part of driftglasses post is the final bit that had some Fox talking heads complaining about the recently man and woman who crashed the state dinner:

Yes, that’s right: the degenerate sons of Mike Wallace and Irvin Kristol…
…sitting on the set of their fake news show…
…lavishly adorned with blonde Fox news bimbos…
…and collecting the paychecks for telling lies to stupid people…

Are pretending to be stunned that American culture has grown so sick that some fortune-seeking, second-generation, spoiled rich twat of a con artist…
…would use his contacts and blond arm-candy…
…to break the last, sacred seal — the rules of Beltway party-going…
…to get his own teevee show.

The horror.

The horror.

Yes indeed – the horror…

Beyond the basic who, what, where, when, and how of news journalism on your 6 and 11 PM newscast, you are being mislead and not getting the truth. Just stop watching those shows or listening to what passes as news analysis in this country.