In a Slate article on print Journalism, Jack Shafer manages to takes some shots at cable news to buttress an argument that yellow journalism is sustainable…
Campbell cites as one reason behind Hearst’s downfall this 1931 observation from Walter Lippmann that yellow journalism is almost impossible to sustain:
When everything is dramatic, nothing is dramatic. When everything is highly spiced, nothing after a while has much flavor. When everything is new and startling, the human mind just ceases to be startled.
Is that really true? The Hearst tradition of making everything dramatic continues to live large on cable TV. It disgorges oceans of yellow journalism each week in both its news and opinion slots. At CNN, Lou Dobbs pushes the tabloid limits of xenophobia and on the network’s sister channel, Headline News, Nancy Grace specializes in unsolved and weird murders. At MSNBC, the recently demoted Rita Cosby mixes a dumber version of Nancy Grace with whatever trash she can fish off the wires. With the exception of Brit Hume’s program, Fox glows an incandescent yellow at most opportunities.
Although the cable news and opinion shows don’t draw very large numbers—The O’Reilly Factor, the most successful, attracts an average audience of 2 million—they inform the mainstream news agenda in a way that Adolph Ochs wouldn’t approve.