During a committee meeting on Wednesday about television retransmission consent, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) veered away from his prepared remarks to take aim at both Fox News and MSNBC:
More than just retransmission consent ails our television markets. We need new catalysts for quality news and entertainment programming. I hunger for quality news. I'm tired of the right and the left. There's a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC to say to Fox and to MSNBC, "Out. Off. End. Goodbye." It'd be a big favor to political discourse, our ability to do our work here in Congress, and to the American people, to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and, more importantly, in their future.
As the New York Times points out, "There is little the Federal Communications Commission can say about Fox News or MSNBC since the channels are on cable, not delivered over the broadcast airwaves."
Rockefeller opened his remarks with a stinging rebuke of the 24-hour news cycle and the blurring of news and entertainment:
When it comes to developing content, our entertainment machine is too often in a race to the bottom. In fact, it is in a race to the bottom. Getting close. Even worse, our news media has all but surrendered to the forces of entertainment. And much of our news media is entertainment as opposed to news. Instead of a watchdog that is a check on the excesses of government and business, we have the endless barking of a 24-hour news cycle. We have journalism that is always ravenous for the next rumor, but insufficiently hungry for the facts that can nourish something called our democracy. As citizens, we are paying one heck of a price in the dumbing down of America. You're probably responsible for that.
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