Ted Koppel Lectures Viewers About Good Old Days

Veteran corporate journalists tend to dismiss the Internet age for delivering news with a point of view. In the good old days, you received a broad array of information from a broad array of guests. But nowadays you only read or watch things that conform to your political point of view.

It’s not clear that this is even true, but it’s pretty unconvincing coming from the likes of former Nightline host Ted Koppel (via TVNewser, 4/13/10).

In response to a question from anchor Katty Kay about a new Pew Research survey–in which 64 percent of broadcast news executives believe the biz is heading in the wrong direction–Koppel said: “I think it’s even worse. I think it’s a disaster.”

“I think we’re living through the–I hope–the final stages of what I like to call the age of entitlement…. We now feel entitled not to have the news that we need but the news that we want. We want to listen to news that comes from those who already sympathize with our particular point of view. We don’t want the facts any more.”

FAIR’s landmark study of Nightline found a striking bias towards elite, right-leaning guests: The four most frequent guests wereHenry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Elliott Abrams and Jerry Falwell. Guests were overwhelmingly white and male; few represented public interest groups or werecritics of U.S. policy.

(Koppel once boasted of Kissinger: “Henry Kissinger is, plain and simply, the best secretary of state we have had in 20, maybe 30 years…. I’m proud to be a friend of Henry Kissinger. He is an extraordinary man. This country has lost a lot by not having him in a position of influence and authority.”)

Ina seven-week stretch in early 1995, Koppel spent almost half his airtime discussing the O.J. Simpson trial.During the turbulent protests at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999, Koppel’s program chose to skip the news entirely.

Koppel should, of course, feel free to lecture aboutthe decline of journalism and the problems inherent inhaving multiple sources of information coming from different perspectives availablein the world. But it’s worth remembering that, back in the good old days, Koppel wasn’tdoing much to bring a broad public debate to the national airwaves… unless you’re a big fan of Henry Kissinger.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.