Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hatin' on Headline News
A year or two ago, CNN Headline News dumped news entirely from primetime, putting on an hourlong showbiz show (gee, there's an underserved subject area), and an hour featuring Court TV's Nancy Grace, whose show might be the greatest waste of electricity in the history of American broadcasting. Sooner or later, every missing persons case in the country is going to get its turn on the show--brides gone from their honeymoons, grandmothers vanished on the way to the market, and Natalee Holloway as the Beaver. It's the worst kind of exploitation, as families and friends of the missing display their pain for CNN's profit and Grace's personal glorification. (Why anybody would want to spend any time at all with Grace, who has all the charm of a wounded alligator, is a mystery.) If you didn't know it was a real show, you might mistake it for a parody of bad cable news. The people involved in it should be embarrassed.

But they're not, and they're about to embarrass themselves even more. Headline News announced today that it intends to hire right-wing radio host Glenn Beck for a primetime hour starting in April. Beck's a lovely example of wingnuttia, as Media Matters ably summarizes here. Beck looks all boyish and innocent, but he's as nasty a wingnut as wingnuts come----racist, sadistic, turned on by war, and a genuinely bad guy. We can only hope that this hire might go the way of MSNBC's unfortunate experience with Michael Savage, whose TV career ended after four months in 2003, as soon as the suits at the network began to understand what they'd signed on for. But then again, Savage looked like a spittle-flecked maniac when he got rolling. Beck, who's on about 200 radio stations, mostly in red-leaning areas of the country, will likely come across as a lot more conventional--if no less hateful.

What the hire says is that CNN will put on every available right-wing nutjob before they'd even consider hiring somebody who remotely skews left. Liberal media, my ass.

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