As someone that does not typically have access to cable news, I had the opportunity, recently, to catch my fill of its content. And after watching a few hours of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, I came to the conclusion that I am quite glad not to have access as I was struck by the massive disconnect between the content of these news reports and the sensibilities of the American people.
It is quite clear when you read the polls that the average American is extremely fed up with the President and the right wing, in general. We see these people for who they really are- vile opportunists who have completely mismanaged the running of this country. Yet, in watching the coverage, these networks are living in the past. They actually believe that the public has faith in the Republican party. I think this post by Atrios captures this dynamic very well. The President is enormously unpopular but cable news stations will continue to operate under the assumption that if Democrats challenge this administration, they do so at great risk to themselves.
My concern, when I think about this coverage, is not that the American people are affected by the news. Rather, that those in charge, specifically Democrats, begin to believe that there is lukewarm support for their policies. By using these cable news networks as their barometer of conventional wisdom, they actually get a false reading on the attitudes in the general public. Consequently, we continue to get bogged down in Iraq and pursue ridiculous domestic policy because the discourse on cable news is so badly skewed towards a more conservative sensibility.