CNN’s Michael Smerconish prides himself on not following party lines. He’s liberal on certain issues, conservative on others and often polarizing nonetheless. A diverse career has included substituting for both Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews on MSNBC. Yes, he’s filled in for both O’Reilly and Matthews.
While many people know him from radio, Smerconish has written numerous books and currently hosts “Smerconish” Saturdays on CNN.
TVNewser: The most recent Pew Research poll focused on political polarization and media habits. Where does CNN fit in today’s world of media polarization?
Smerconish: The Pew data is a total confirmation of what I’ve been saying for years – the 80% of us who are not guided by a doctrinaire ideology have ceded the debate to the 20% who are consistently conservative or consistently liberal, and it has taken the country in a hyper-partisan direction We need to take it back. Real political power in this country rests in the middle, not in the extremes, but right now, “rests” is the operative word. CNN is perfectly situated to be the go-to source for this segment of society, and indeed, in Pew’s category of those with “mixed” political views, CNN is their main source for news which is why the network is a perfect fit for me.
TVNewser: Why do some partisan political shows have a hard time making it in this landscape?
Smerconish: Hard time? I’d argue the partisan political shows that push a singular point of view have too easy of a time making it in this landscape. The rote, paint by numbers form of broadcasting gets rewarded by cultivating support from very loyal, not necessarily very numerous, supporters. Passion takes precedence. That’s the same problem we have with the electorate.
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