Synopses & Reviews
Producer, pundit, and media critic Jeff Cohen offers a fast-paced romp through the three major cable news channels Fox, CNN, and MSNBC and delivers a serious message about their failure to cover the most urgent issues of the day. Propelled by hilarious anecdotes featuring celebrities, famous pundits and media personalities, Cable News Confidential highlights the foibles, hypocrisies, and absurdities he witnessed at news organizations run by entertainment conglomerates.
"Television news is so bad, says Cohen, the founder of progressive media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), that 'Walter Cronkite would have big trouble getting a job today in TV news.' Thus, the wry media critic kicks off this excellent, high-energy look back at his trials and tribulations at CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Though opinionated and incisive, Cohen's memoir is not the confession of a tortured progressive; Cohen freely admits to being a 'telebimbo' and a 'well-paid party to the feeding frenzy.' In 1987, Cohen began a stint as a guest on CNN's Crossfire, representing FAIR and progressive concerns; before he knows it, he's an enthusiastic member of the media 'kakistocracy,' the 'rule of the worst.' Doing battle with conservative gadflies Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak and others proves exhilarating, but a disturbing trend of 'genuflecting to the political right' leads CNN executives to replace Crossfire co-host Michael Kinsley with two Democratic centrists. Surprisingly, Cohen finds punditry nirvana as a panelist on Fox News Channel's News Watch, 'the smartest and most balanced show on Fox and perhaps anywhere in cable news.' At the behest of Phil Donahue, Cohen moves to MSNBC, where the handwriting is literally on the wall: at network headquarters, posters celebrate news coverage 'highlights' like the death of Princess Diana and the Columbine shootings. Though he chides himself and his colleagues repeatedly for ignoring real news in favor of sensationalism ('Nuclear tensions rise; we talk sex on Fox'), Cohen's willingness to mire himself in the swamp of infotainment amply mirrors the situation of viewers drawn into the cable news runaround, doomed to get their news from 'three dogs chasing each other's tails to the right.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Producer, pundit, and media critic Jeff Cohen offers a fast-paced romp through the three major cable news channels--Fox, CNN, and MSNBC--and delivers a serious message about their failure to cover the most urgent issues of the day.
About the Author
Jeff Cohen is the founder of FAIR, the progressive media watch group based in New York. He devolved from media critic to media pundit, appearing regularly on national TVincluding as a co-host of Crossfire
on CNN, a weekly panelist on Fox News and a daily commentator on MSNBC. He was senior producer of MSNBC's Donahue
until the show was terminated on the eve of the Iraq war. He is the co-author of a number of books, including Wizards of Media Oz
and The Way Things Arent: Rush Limbaughs Reign of Error
Cohen's columns have run in many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Atlanta Constitution, Miami Herald, Brill's Content and the Nation. Prior to FAIR, he worked in Los Angeles as an ACLU lawyer. In 2003, he was communications director of the Kucinich for President campaign. He writes and lectures widely about media and politics, reachable through jeffcohen.org. He lives in upstate New York, where he helps raise two smart, beautiful daughters.