September 2nd, 2011
04:13 PM ET

Web exclusive: Shafer on partisan media

Recently laid of media columnist for Slate.com Jack Shafer talks to Howard Kurtz about why he likes partisan media and the role of media criticism. Catch more on Reliable Sources Sunday, September 4 at 11am EST. 

Filed under: Media • Reliable Sources
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    CNN's new hires following the 2 Republicans for every Democrat model redimns me of Phil Donahue's order from MSNBC that he feature 2 conservatives for every liberal on his show. The rationale, of course, was that the host himself, a liberal, would achieve a 2/2 balance. Donahue complained about the directive but followed it and then we all know what happened. The most successful program in its time was canceled despite its ratings for reasons having nothing to do with revenue and everything to do with the inevitable Iraq invasion.In CNN's case there appears to be a self-imposed mandate to stack the deck with rightwing commentators to balance out the perception that most media, including CNN, is liberal. This is where what I call the kiss-my-ass-I'll-only-kick-yours-harder game comes in. Jautz et. al. consciously or sub-consciously believe that if only they employ not only enough rightwingers but enough EXTREME rightwingers critics will finally stop accusing them of tilting left. They will kiss hard enough that the kicking will stop, in playbook terms. On the contrary, the harder they kiss the MORE they will be kicked in response and the only way out of this insidious closed circuit is for CNN to stop trying, ie to stop playing the game. But in order to stop one must realize that the game's being played in the first place, and that it is rigged in the second. CNN is incapable not only of coming to its senses but replacing its we're straight down the middle between FOX and MSNBC mantra with a here's the truth whatever side it's on approach.Good luck to them. If it ever happens it certainly won't be on Jautz's watch.

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