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Cable News Runs The Country

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Townhall Media

It’s a horrifying thought, but it’s true: cable news is in control of both political parties, and therefore the whole country. 

Think about it – how many people running for office right now are products of cable news, meaning they are people who, were it not for their appearances on whatever cable network corresponds with their political ideology, you likely never would have heard of? I’m betting it’s a lot of them, if not all. 

I want to be delicate here. I know everyone has their favorite networks and shows, but do you really want a country ruled by people chosen by the people who book those shows? 

Would anyone outside of Florida know who Nikki Fried is were it not for MSNBC propping her up as some sort of serious challenge to Governor Ron DeSantis? She’s the Agriculture Commissioner, for crying out loud. Unless you were farming in Florida, you might have heard of her…and then only maybe. Yet, she’s a contender for Governor of Florida next year, at least as far as the Democratic Party’s nomination race goes. 

There are Republican examples too. I assume there are other people running for Senate in Ohio than best-selling author JD Vance, but you’d never know it by watching Fox. Nothing against Vance, or Fox, I just think candidates should be chosen by party members, not media members. It is a wild advantage to have a half dozen to a dozen appearances per week in front of millions of people; helps a lot with fundraising. 

Ultimately, a candidate has to win the race, but the benefit of exposure can’t be overstated.

More than these networks anointing candidates, they are now dictating who and what is acceptable beliefs in each party. You won’t find more than one or two Democrats in all of Washington, DC, who are even remotely pro-life, or are at least willing to say as much publicly. If any were “too vocal” about it, one monologue from a Maddow or Lemon would destroy them. 

Cable networks will make you as a candidate, as an author, as a pundit, as a conservative or a liberal. Conversely, and worse, they can break you too. Or never give you the chance to be any of those things.

In the last few years, cable networks have become more partisan and more powerful than ever in party politics. Rather than report or comment on the news, hosts dictate what is and isn’t news.

Rachel Maddow can literally unleash an army of flying monkeys on Congress through an off-handed comment. It would be wildly untrue or exaggerated beyond any recognizable version of reality, but it would be effective. And Democrats are terrified at the idea of facing her ire. Conservatives are no different. That kind of pressure coming from one entity bastardizes everything. Political movements de-couple from grassroots organizers and become dependent upon bookers in New York or producers in Atlanta. It works, but not for the people.

Politicians who answer to cable networks and not the people are the makings of ratings, not principled victories and certainly not wins for the Constitution. Jeff Zucker has Jeff Zucker’s best interests in his mind, not the nation’s. And if you think Fox is overloaded with conservatives behind the scenes or in management, you have not had conversations with the current and former long-term employees I know. 

Cable networks are ostensibly in the “news” business, but they’re really just in the “business” business. There’s nothing wrong with that. Getting and maintaining an audience is their job, period. You just shouldn’t call it news. They don’t talk to newsmakers, they no longer seek out people directly involved in the events of the day. They now just have the same 12 people on every day to discuss things that happened that week and, more often than not lately, what their counterparts on another network said about the events of the week. Yes, a giant percentage of what “news” channels now talk about is the stupid things employees of other “news” networks said.

It’s entertaining, I watch it, but it’s hardly anything that constitutes “news.” And it’s problematic when the people charged with commenting on or reporting the news morph into manufacturing news or becoming the story themselves. If you really want to know when the country started to seriously go to hell, look back to when news reporting was replaced with commentary and everyone else pretended it wasn’t. Every outlet did the same, and nothing has been the same since. 

Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!), host of a daily radio show on WCBM in Maryland, and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter

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