Bill Carter, the New York Times’ hoary television reporter, in his story the other day about partnership talks between CNN and CBS, treated both networks as though they were august news organisations, instead of ruined artifacts of a former age.
Carter’s is yet another an example of the illusion the news media somehow successfully maintains about itself—about its importance and permanence and, even, the awe with which it is regarded—in the face of all evidence to the contrary.
As it happens, CBS—”once the home of Walter Cronkite,” as Carter intones—is desperate to get out of the news business (desperate to get out of what’s left of its news business), or anyway CBS Inc, of which CBS News is an irrelevant part, is desperate to get out of it. CNN—with its “extensive news-gathering resources,” in Carter’s version of basso profundo—is desperate to do something that will keep supporting its ever-diminishing business prospects. The former doesn’t want to be in the modern news business, the latter doesn’t know how to be, so combining them produces what exactly?
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