Smerconish argues that television and radio is shaping the partisan climate in Washington, and writes that the forthcoming departure of Campbell Brown from CNN “marks another tombstone in the graveyard of moderate, thoughtful analysis.”
CNN is rumored to be looking at a “Crossfire” type debate program to plug into Brown’s slot, though no programming decisions have been made. Eliot Spitzer has been said to be in consideration for that show, and today the New York Post‘s Claire Atkinson writes that her fellow Brit Piers Morgan has been approached about the program.
Smerconish also talks a bit about how the TV news sausage gets made, recalling calls from CNN and Fox News producers seeking guests that fit a predetermined mold.
The message of both episodes is clear: There is no room for nuance. Either you offer a consistent (possibly artificial) ideological view or you often don’t get a say.
So why is there a lack of centrist voices? The answer, according to Smerconish, is about as straightforward as it gets:
Unfortunately, this approach is rewarded with ratings, because ratings are driven by passion, not universal appeal or general acceptance. While the most recent polling and voter registration data suggest that political power lies in the middle, it remains largely untapped because it lacks the fervor of the extremes. This also explains the lack of loyalty by centrists for media personalities such as Campbell Brown, unlike the devotion the far right and left have for their own torch-bearers