The shame of American TV journalism

Think Progress puts together a brilliant compilation of the humiliating hype of cable news over the death of Anna Nicole Smith.

Larry King: “The Number 1 story around the world tonight.”
Scarborough: “For better or worse, would you call Anna Nicole Smith an American icon of the early 21st century?”
Anderson Cooper asks about her Playboy mansion days: “What was she like then?”
MSNBC: Why was she so intriguing to so many people?”
Larry King: “This story will have a lot of legs.” [Cue drums]
Scarborough: “Why the obsession with Anna Nicole Smith?”
Jack Caferty (bless him) to Wolf Blitzer: “Is Anna Nicole Smith still dead?”

Says Think Progress:

NBC’s Nightly News devoted 14 seconds to Iraq compared to 3 minutes and 13 seconds to Anna Nicole. CNN referenced Anna Nicole 522% more frequently than it did Iraq. MSNBC was even worse — 708% more references to Anna Nicole than Iraq.

And big, old MSM says they know how to do journalism and nobody else could do it as well, certainly not us, the unwashed.

Watching the coverage certainly makes me want to wash it off me.

  • To read about the tragedy surrounding Anna Nicole and her long-time adversary, E. Pierce Marshall…link here:

  • Just another sad example of how celebrity – tabloid driven the news has become. That’s why blogs like this, and others will continue to grow in readership… by the way, I just turned on Wolf Blitzer for the first time since she passed, and guess what he’s talking about? Anna. I’m going to turn off the tube, and keep myself informed via the Internet.

    Peace, and keep up the good analysis.

  • Bill K.

    This shows the basic fault of push, aka broadcast, media.

    It makes a lot of assumptions of what want to see and hear, all the while shooting for the least common denominator of taste and intelligence.

    At least on the Web you can opt out of the feeds that repulse you, excepting e-mail spam, of course.

    What if they were able to do an instant poll that would show what the viewers thought about the continuing coverage of any particular story? Determining content by polling couldn’t be considered journalism, but neither can this unrelenting snarky coverage of over-hyped gossip.

  • Even Jeff Jarvis is writing about her …

  • Mark Rutledge

    Compare the Anna coverage at with
    There is hope.

  • duneview

    …and now Zsa Zsa’s hubby (Prince Something) wants in on the lucky sperm sweepstakes. Of course, Zsa Zsa is related to Paris Hilton by marriage, so we have the Tabloid Trifecta. Don’t expect the cable networks to let go of this one anytime soon — or at least until the Phil Spector trial starts.

    Maybe Olbermann will trim back on the faux-Edward R. Murrow commentaries and put the hand puppets back on.

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  • Bill

    I clicked back and forth between the CNN and Fox for the “All Nicole All the Time” coverage, and Fox cut away for a discussion abouit the Libby trial. Shep Smith and two opposing experts. The conclusion from both “experts” was that this was a White House leak that was coming back to bite them, that they’d attacked Joe Wilson because he’d debunked the 16 words that “Iraq bought Yellowcake from Niger, and that the WH had outed an undercover CIA agent.” Shep shook his head and said, “This is really complicated and I’m tired of hearing about it,” then cut back to Anna coverage. How true. The real stories of the day are too complicated to cover. Not because the public’s not smart enough to understand, but because the media doesn’t want to do the hard work. I’m traveling on business, and called my wife and told her I’d have to just watch the Chick Channel till the ANS coverage went away.

  • A very high note was NBC’s Brian Williams mention of the fact that many blogs were countering the nonstop Anna Nicole Smith coverage by featuring the death of a young soldier in Iraq. He used this on hig blog;

    ‘But then, they separated. Yesterday, Jennifer Parcell was supporting combat operations in Al-Anbar province when she was killed in action.’

    Commendations to this reporting of real news.

  • If you’re sick of it, imagine how those of us who don’t live in the U.S. — but whose media is heavily influenced by CNN et al — feel.

    Like the Big Brother brouhaha, the ANS coverage illustrates why the mainstream media is becoming less relevant by the day.

  • greg0658

    duneview – LOL

    Ruth – caught that too

    All – ANS had my surfer finger clicking with hardly anywhere to stop. We are accepting less quality these days, to many channels that must fill up airtime, with a limited cash stream to produce major productions, the price of relying on service sector job growth / cash streams. R&D money where did you go?

    I too wonder if cable could be statisized – if power drain by viewership of individual channels is measureable – a nationwide electronic Nielson. These facts would help tier grouping / waste of bandwidth and psychologist understand what is happening to our psyche.

  • You mean A.N. hasn’t had a single effect on your life? You’ve never wanted to be part of her inner circle? You’ve never worshiped at the alter of A.N.?

    Neither have I?

    But I don’t pay attention to the news cycle anymore, except for those times when I’m in an airport and I’m a captive audience because I’ve run out of podcasts to listen to. How disgusting.

    Who knew that when E.T. premiered all those years ago that it would be the vanguard of 21st century television journalism? It’s come full circle.

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  • For the trust that the MSM have worked hard to gain after the ’05 – ’06 slugfest with blogs et al they sure blew it to hell with their binge on covering Smith’s death like a hostage situation. These media organizations can only attract a viewership as good as their editorial decisions. Would’ve got a kick out of E! news covering Iraq in an orgy of cheese and irony.

  • Ah, a sociologists dream come true. Why?

  • adslfan

    there are lots of reality show people on the tv that haven’t died yet.
    think how much coverage they will get. a blond chick and crazy old rocker know who i’m talking about and i don’t even have to mention names.

    besides. jeff is the father of annas baby and isn’t telling anybody.
    he’s saving that for a podcast.

  • Mark

    Let’s be honest about what it is. ANS is just another manifestation of the “Prince of Fools” syndrome that will always envelop a portion of current news.
    We don’t have O.J. (much), Michael Jackson or any other celebrity falling from a top spot at the moment, so the ANS story fills a void in our lives. This affliction we have is similar to why so many people love listening to the blues.
    You feel so much better when it stops. Mr. Caferty certainly gets it.

  • david

    Let’s face facts, the MSM is not reporting these type of stories for those of us in the blue states it’s mainly geared towards grabbing the white trash viewers in bible thumping red states.

  • I share your amazement

    Having said that, the stats on coverage of Anna Nicole suggests that it is possible to wrestle the media’s attention away from Iraq, if only for a few minutes.

  • I’ve been planning an “I feel so bad for Jeanne Moos” post for a while… maybe it’s time to move that one to the front of the queue.

  • You’re so right! I work in a “news room” and tis interesting to see what really sparks people’s interest. Is it too far out to suggest that the american people seem to relate more to Anna Nicole Smith vs. the reality of our troops and war torn communities. Fortunatly really does focus on what’s really important. Entertainment comes last- check it out and let me know if we stand up to your critieria!

    By the way… JEB may run for Pres, N.Korea settled a Nuke Deal and there were explosions on a U.S. Base in Japan- Know it!

    Shelby the Intern

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