Does America Really Want Real News on Cable?

By Joe Ferullo in The Hill: In a memo issued on his first official day as the head of CNN, Chris Licht told his staff “too many people have lost trust in the news media.” The best way to recover trust, he wrote, was “educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints.” Here’s the challenge (though) facing the nearly 42-year-old network: Real news is for the curious. At its best, television news is delivered by people and for people who don’t believe they already know everything. But cable news today is dominated by opinionated anchors, reporters and viewers who are the opposite of curious. Questions posed on these shows are rarely genuine — they’re rhetorical gamesmanship. The hosts know all the answers and so do the people watching. The last thing anyone wants to do is “respectfully” encounter “differing viewpoints.”

CNN has a problem. It wants to do real news on cable television. Good luck with that. Illustration by Irshad Salim

This framework exists because much of what’s now called cable “news” didn’t actually grow out of journalism. Instead, its origins can be traced back to talk radio. In that world, self-assured and bombastic hosts have one-way conversations with listeners. They exist to offer furious assurance to the audience that its anger and grievances are the only reasonable responses possible to modern life.

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