Fox News makes a big deal of its distinction between its news and opinion shows. Bret Baier and Neil Cavuto are news. Beck, Hannity and O’Reilly are opinion. Though I don’t know for sure, I’d guess that MSNBC makes the same point about its people. (If you go to the Fox website, Baier and Cavuto are listed under “Personalities” with the opinion guys. I wonder how Walter Cronkite would have felt about being listed as a CBS personality.)
Fox and MSNBC didn’t start the yelling at/talking over each other format for TV shows. As best I can remember, Firing Line after William Buckley left started it and it spread. Media gives us what “we” want. If people didn’t watch Olbermann and Hannity, they wouldn’t be on the air.
I suppose that’s why you don’t see a lot of George Will on the air and Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley have late night shows on PBS.
I’d love one of the cable channels to do an experiment. Once a week or month, air Jon Stewart talking with (note that I didn’t say to) Charles Krauthammer. Or Leonard Pitts and George Will, though they probably write better than they talk. Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow (the smartest of the Fox and MSNBC rosters), though with that pair you’d have to have electrical prods triggered by a raised voice. Three cameras (a wide shot and one for each person - it’s TV you can’t be too static). Pick a current political issue, let them do some research and have them talk with each other about it for an hour. That’s it.
Am I a programming genius or what?