JAFO

Just Another Effin' Observer

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Location: Huntsville, Texas, United States

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

CBS - The 'Network' Network?

There's a major shakeup in the works for CBS News, according to the New York Times. CBS News chairman Les Moonves described some of the changes in the works as "revolutionary". Hell, I'd think just sticking to the facts would be revolutionary enough, but no, Les is aiming for bigger game.

The back-story:

As everyone with an Internet connection knows by now (with one startling exception, on which I am not at liberty to elaborate -- but if you're reading this, it's about damn time you jumped on the bandwagon!), CBS News has been in ratings- and credibility-freefall since early September, when anchor Dan Rather aired a story about President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service that turned out to be -- how can we put this delicately? -- less than authoritative. Oh, screw delicacy, it was a pack of frickin' lies, is what it was: forged documents, and breathtakingly amateurish forgeries at that, provided to the network by an "unimpeachable" source who turned out to be a barking moonbat with a grudge against the President, the whole package put together by a producer who had been chasing this particular Grail for five years with naught to show for it. It was the stuff of Pulitzers, at least of the Walter Duranty vintage; that is, until bloggers started picking at the seams, and then the whole fabric of the story started to unravel like a ten-dollar Hong Kong suit. Four people have been fired -- so far -- and Rather has announced his retirement from the anchor desk on March 9. Even CBS' own Dave Letterman has opened up with both barrels. Clearly, CBS News is in trouble, and something has to be done about it. But what?

That's where this story takes a sudden detour into the surreal:
But Mr. Moonves said he was looking to install something more "cutting edge" this time. As part of the overhaul he indicated he would even consider a role for Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "Daily Show." Mr. Stewart has emerged as both a late-night comedy star and a biting commentator on the news.
Can you say 'Howard Beale', boys and girls?

Then again, consideration of Jon Stewart for a slot on the CBS Evening News might be nothing more than a tacit acknowledgment that CBS' coverage of the news is a running joke, and Moonves is simply adapting to the reality of the situation. If so, he might want to keep one thought in mind as he ponders this prospect: Dennis Miller's brief (but not brief enough) stint on Monday Night Football. Bad karma.

In any event, it's starting to look like, no matter what direction they turn, CBS News is heading over a cliff.

Happy landings.

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