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Comments: Week of October 18, 2010


1. In last week’s cover story, Gabriel Sherman drew back the curtain on the plotting at CNN and MSNBC as they attempt to draw even with the ratings-dominant Fox News (Chasing Fox,” October 11). “Highly revelatory,” wrote Joe Pompeo at Business Insider. “We strongly recommend reading the piece in its entirety.” “A lengthy, wide-ranging article,” noted Steve Krakauer at Mediaite. “The juiciest tidbits come from MSNBC.” The Daily Beast agreed: “It’s worth skipping to the bits about Keith Olbermann.” Others were interested in CNN—and dissecting how the network fell behind. “Paints a sobering picture of the realities facing CNN as the cable-news business was transformed by new media and the rise of opinion shows,” wrote Alex Weprin at Mediabistro’s TV Newser. “More than needing a hit, as Gabriel Sherman’s most-excellent excavation of the cable-news wars shows, CNN needs a winning identity,” opined Eric Deggans at the Feed blog on But the brunt of the commentary concerned Fox News itself. “This was an interesting article, but this notion that Fox is somehow the organizing force behind the right completely misses the mark,” wrote one commenter on nymag .com. “Fox is the primary beneficiary of the resurgent right. The irony is that conservatives used to love watching CNN, because it was as close to straight-ahead, unbiased news as you could find anywhere. It was by far the finest news organization in the world. It was when CNN started emulating the existing networks during the ’92 election that they lost the right wing of their audience, and almost certainly when Fox News was conceived in the mind of Roger Ailes.” Jim Naureckas at’s blog critiqued the portrayal of the network. “Sherman’s piece has an important insight into Fox News’s success,” he wrote. “I sense the traditional corporate-media assumption that politics is an activity best left to the professionals—that there’s something untoward about journalists encouraging citizens to take an active role in their nation’s decision-making. That, of course, is exactly what they should be doing. The problem with Fox News is the story that it’s telling is naturally a conspiratorial one.”

2. Emily Nussbaum’s takedown of this fall’s crop of network comedies (A Not-So-Funny Thing About Network Sitcoms,” October 11) inspired debate among the telephiles on “This year may be pretty bad, but it also suffers by comparison to last year, which saw a number of good or interesting comedies hit maturity and the debuts of several really great shows,” noted one commenter. “Not all good sitcoms are good right away,” argued another. “I’m not saying that any of the comedies mentioned will turn into great TV, just that two episodes in is pretty early to sound the death knell.” “I pretty much agree with the rundown on every show here,” opined a commenter, “But what the hell was the fuss over Lone Star? I thought the concept was great, but the script was embarrassing and cliché.” And there was a surprisingly vocal defense of CBS’s Two and a Half Men. “It’s actually tiresome that people rag on it as unfunny,” wrote a fan. “It’s not another sitcom about how men are losers who can’t live without a brilliant wife to take care of us. Two and a Half Men doesn’t attempt to be anything other than a funny, adult comedy. Not every show has to be a hipster comedy that is constantly trying to prove how smart it is.” And another fan succinctly noted: “TAAHM is funny. F the haters.”

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