In the previous post I noted an example of how weak cable news is compared to either the blogs or The Daily Show with regards to fact checking and meaningful analysis of the news. Matthew Yglesias, returning from Europe where he became spoiled by the superior BBC and CNN International newscasts, found the return to American cable news to be a rude shock:
It makes you think about the strange influence that daytime cable news has on American politics. The three networks combined have an aggregate daytime audience of roughly zero. But even though the audience, looked at nationally, amounts to rounding error the networks are hugely popular among the tiny number of people who work in professional politics. Just like traders have CNBC and Bloomberg on in their offices, political operatives are constantly tuned in to what’s happening on cable news. The result is a really bizarre hothouse scenario in which people are basically watching . . . well . . . nothing, but they’re riveted to it. How things “play” on cable news is considered fairly important even though no persuadable voters are watching it. And cable news’ hyper-agitated style starts to infect everyone’s frame of mind, making it extremely difficult for everyone to forget that the networks have huge incentives to massively and systematically overstate the significance of everything that happens.
While I’m aware that some do so, I cannot imagine wasting time with any of the cable news networks if the goal is to be informed about what is going on. Periodically monitoring a news aggregator, and having text messages sent with true breaking news, is far more effective. If you really feel that having some portion of the media on constantly to present and discuss the news, at least put on NPR as opposed to the cable news networks. If you do feel it is necessary to monitor cable news because of their influence on the professionals it is only necessary to turn on the television for short periods of time as they tend to repeat coverage of the same stories throughout the day to minimize their expenses and minimize their need to actually keep up with what is going on in the world.