That was the provocative question three newscasters debated this morning at the cable industry’s annual convention on the eve of what MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews predicted will be “the most exciting political season we’ve ever had” — in part because of the growing importance of cable news. As you might imagine, the boisterous host of Hardball With Chris Matthews sucked up most of the oxygen in the Cable Show panel that also included CNN‘s John King and Univision‘s Maria Elena Salinas. She lamented that people “now have designer news. They want to listen to people they agree with.” That’s dangerous, she says, because “they don’t know the difference between a news person and a commentator.” King says that while “there’s nothing wrong with advocacy journalism, there’s nothing wrong with objective journalism, too.” But Matthews says viewers understand what they’re watching. For example, when Fox News bills itself as “fair and balanced,” its audience knows that the slogan is “ironic and fun loving and they’re in on the joke.” He contrasted today’s sharp-edged approach to the old days when “people like Andy Rooney were always with the (government’s) embedded thinking…. Without cable it’s just network thinking and embedded thinking which is dangerous for democracy.”
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
MSNBC Announces Multi-Year Contract With Rachel Maddow
MSNBC president Phil Griffin, appearing on the cable news network’s Tuesday panel at TCA alongside hosts Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews, said the door is still open to “Young Turk” Cenk Uygur, who abruptly left the network July 20. Griffin said he was surprised by the departure, although he does not feel that the host worked in the 6 PM time slot. “We wanted Cenk to stay at MSNBC; he fits our sensibility,” he said. “I don’t think all good people are going to succeed at 6 o’clock. We were working on a new contract to have him on the weekends; I was disappointed that he didn’t stay and hope we will work out that he comes back. … I have nothing bad to say about him. He was terrific.” Griffin said no decision has been made about putting Al Sharpton in Uygur’s former slot but that the civil rights leader “fits into MSNBC.”