Tags: Biased | 'Big | Three' | Networks | Grow | Irrelevant

Biased 'Big Three' Networks Grow Irrelevant

Thursday, 03 January 2002 12:00 AM

The national evening newscasts, once America's main source of information, are fast becoming "less and less relevant," Bernard Goldberg writes.

He cites the Nielsen ratings, which show that in the 1979-80 season, a huge 75 percent of all TV sets that were on in the early evening were tuned to a network news program, either ABC, CBS or NBC.

In 2001 that share of the viewers tuned into network news had dropped drastically, to just 43 percent.

"If the networks were selling shoes instead of news, they'd be out of business by now," Goldberg comments, asking just how far can the network evening news ratings sink.

The numbers get worse every year. He notes that in the 1994-94 season, 51 percent of viewers with TV sets turned on were watching Rather, Jennings or Brokaw. In 1995-96 ratings dropped by just 1 percent. By 1997-98 it dropped another percent to 49 percent.

"Then it slipped to 47 percent; by the end of 2000 it was 44 percent; and in July 2001, 43 percent."

Goldberg notes that when Dan Rather replaced Walter Cronkite in the spring of 1981, "CBS Evening News" was in first place among the three network news broadcast. "Twenty years later, CBS was in last place, having lost more than half of its ratings."

The reason for these precipitous drops in ratings: competition. The big three were no longer the sole sources of news. Cable and satellite TV and the Internet had arrived and were being seen as more reliable sources of news.

"It's as if the Berlin Wall had come down," Goldberg observes. "But instead of voting with their feet, Americans began voting with their remote control devices. They haven't abandoned the news. Just the news people they no longer trust."

He asks how else can we account for Bill O'Reillly and "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News Channel. "O'Reilly is currently the hottest anchor on the hottest news and information program on television."

Citing the tremendous acclaim O'Reilly has received, the torrent of favorable publicity he's gotten, Goldberg writes: "As far as I'm concerned, the three people Bill owes so much of his success to are Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather. People will get their news from people they like and believe, which is very bad news for the old guard."

The establishment media, Goldberg avers, have simply lost touch with the American people, the majority of whom do not reflect the ultraliberalism they perceive on the CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and MSNBC.

He quotes Bill O'Reilly as telling him that his viewers "perceive Rather and those guys as being left, but even more, they see them as being elitist, as not being in touch with them."

Where's it all going for Dan and Peter and Tom? Goldberg lets O'Reilly answer that.

"It's like the last days of Pompeii. They're desperately trying to hold on," O'Reilly said. "They see the smoke."

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The national evening newscasts, once America's main source of information, are fast becoming less and less relevant, Bernard Goldberg writes. He cites the Nielsen ratings, which show that in the 1979-80 season, a huge 75 percent of all TV sets that were on in the...
Biased,'Big,Three',Networks,Grow,Irrelevant
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2002-00-03
Thursday, 03 January 2002 12:00 AM
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