“Westin and the other news presidents, Neil Shapiro of NBC news and Andrew Hayward of CBS met at a joint public appearance Monday at Stanford for a discussion about the challenges posed by technology, the rise of Fox News channel and their work in the lead-up to the Iraqi war. The three said that while they hope to resist a push into opinionated, edgy news that has been the hallmark of Fox News and other cable outlets, they realize that Fox’s success reminded them that networks needed to adapt to the new media marketplace.” Well, but they said they’re not going to do that. They need to adapt but they say they’re not going to do it. All these people misunderstand why Fox is successful. Do you know how many complaints I’m getting from people who watched Fox for the election coverage that thought that the Fox all stars have gone liberal on them all of a sudden? The idea that Fox is perceived by people as a total, hundred percent conservative news channel is absurd. It isn’t. That’s not why Fox is a success. I’m not going to sit here and tell people why it is. If they can’t figure this one out for themselves they don’t deserve to know. It’s right in front of their face.
But here’s the deal. Oh, and Westin yesterday, at this same conference, David Westin, the president of ABC yesterday said, or sometime recently said, that on these cable shows like Crossfire, where you have one opinion argued over there and another opinion argued over there, at the end of the show, somebody needs to come in and say which opinion was right. And of course that, in his view, would be the liberal opinion would always be right. But he said this unsettled, unsolved argument, this shouting back and forth, just doesn’t solve anything. Now, two things. First, the comment here about this explosion in the number of news and “quasi-news outlets.” Can I ask a very simple question, folks? Who is it that gets to define “news”? Why is it, for example, that what we get on the three networks and the New York Times and the Washington Post is considered news and everything else is quasi? Talk radio is quasi-news. Fox News is quasi-news. The Internet is quasi-news, but what gives them the right to define it? Simply their legacy status? Their old media status? What they do is not news. They have agendas; they just don’t announce them. They just won’t admit it. It’s obvious when you have forged documents, to make a story, when you will not criticize a Democratic presidential candidate once during a campaign for president when you will not do fair and equal treatment. I mean, this bunch won’t even give Kofi Annan the media anal exam it gives George W. Bush. Who ceded the definition of what is news to them? I think what I do is news. I tell people what’s going on out there, and as an added bonus, I tell them what I think about it and therefore what they should think. (Just kidding, for those of you in the blue states.)
But who’s to determine what’s news? I mean, there’s no monopoly on that anymore either, and that’s the big explosion that’s taking place. It is all of a sudden with all these different sources. Maybe what ABC, CBS, NBC, and the newspapers are telling isn’t news. It’s what they think is news. That’s what I’ve always meant about the monopoly. They had a monopoly determine what was news and what wasn’t, and what was going to be said about it and what wasn’t going to be said, and what opinions were going to be offered about it and what opinions would not be. That’s news? Who ever said that was news! It’s become, you know, just a kitchen table word we throw around, “Oh, I’m going to watch the news tonight.” Now these guys are in a little argument over (liberal old media-type impression), “Well, these competitors, these people that are kicking our butts. That’s not really news that they do.” Oh, yes it is, because people are learning things in these quasi-outlets that they’re not learning from ABC, CBS, NBC, and the New York Times and Washington Post.
Sometimes what we get from those outlets is half the story, or in the case of this Marine soldier in Fallujah, we get nothing but condemnation of the country, of the U.S. Armed Forces and a single Marine. We don’t get the same condemnation of our enemies. That’s news or is that an agenda? As to this point that these argument shows, these debate shows need to have some resolution at the end? You know, that would be nice but now we’re back to the same old question: Who’s going to decide? Who’s the arbiter? The idea that a news division president, David Westin, thinks that there should be an authority which is going to pronounce one side right and one side wrong at the end of an argument is the best illustration I can give you that they do not trust the American people to come up with these answers themselves. They don’t trust the arena of ideas. There are countless arguments in this country with no arbiter and no referee and no source authority at the end — and I know, yeah, it’s messy, but it’s called freedom. It’s called democracy, and the First Amendment exists so that all of this stuff can be said. The more absurd it is, the more absurd it will be perceived and not believed, and that’s what happened to these people in this campaign. Michael Moore was not believed. A number of other of these dubious sources. Richard Clarke? Not believed. He was by a certain element but the side lost. The people that thought all that was really news, lost.
Kinsley wanted to do a show where there was some sort of a compromise at the end. Michael Kinsley said the solution to this is (paraphrasing), “Okay, let’s reach a compromise at the end, where somebody’s half right and somebody’s half right and the other is half wrong.” Can’t do that. The whole point is viewers make up their mind or viewers simply be entertained or what have you. If you trust the process, if you trust the American people, the absurd, incorrect, lying, stinking, arguments stand out like sore thumbs and the people that are telling the truth and have the facts on their side will also stand out like sore thumbs. I’m willing to trust the system. We’re doing quite well to do that. I don’t think the “outcome” of this stuff has to be managed. It’s the left that thinks the outcome has to be established because they know that their ideas won’t triumph in the arena of ideas. It’s that simple.
So we have to have an arbiter and we have a compromise and we have to have agreement and love at the end of these programs. Somebody tell me who tells us what part of This Week with George Stephanopoulos is true when it’s over? Who tells us at the end of Meet the Press who was lying and who was not? Nobody tells us these things. Who tells us, after ABC’s World! News! Tonight! what was left out? I do. What I do is tell you who was right and wrong on Meet the Press. I tell you who was right and wrong on George Stephanopoulos’ show (when I deign to watch it). I tell you who is right and wrong. I do play-by-play of the news. But you are free to disagree with me, but you have more information in listening to me going in than you have those shows, because I tell you what my agenda is. You know what I want to happen. You know the things I want to win and triumph. You don’t know that with the legacy media. Well, you do but they don’t admit it. So I am ecstatic here with the way things have evolved. I am more than happy to continue with the system the way it is. These people think we need an arbiter. Why, what do they call me “the Truth Detector” for, folks?