The 1/2 Hour News Hour premiered tonight on FNC. Some of the jokes fell flat (especially the canned ACLU segments) and there were times I thought the show tried too hard, particularly the Ed Begley segments, but overall it wasn’t bad for a pilot I guess. But that’s not what I’m going to be writing about; how funny the show was or wasn’t. The thrust of this entry is about whether the show should be on FNC at all. I say no and here’s why…
The 1/2 Hour News Hour is a comedy program on a cable news network. Talk about brand dilution. FNC is supposed to be about “Real Journalism: Fair and Balanced”, not “Real Comedy”. If CNN were to put on a liberal comedy program, more to the left than either The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, the outcry on the Red blogs would be huge and the mainstream media would question CNN’s thinking. MSNBC has been pummelled over the years for an over-reliance on canned programming with critics taking pot shots at “Crimetime in Primetime” and other sensational canned programming that has aired, and not without some justification in my opinion. Shots have been taken at MSNBC from both CNN and FNC over this. It got so bad that Steve Capus had to deny the network was headed to all taped programming or all crime programming when NBCU 2.0 was addressed at a Town Hall meeting. I fail to see why FNC should be any different if it goes off in a non-news tangent like this. I don’t consider “Red Eye” in the same vein because it’s more free form than structured comedy like 1/2 Hour is. 1/2 Hour has comedy writers, canned skits, and a laugh track (which was used very heavy handedly in my opinion tonight). Plus Red Eye is buried late at night where it’s disconnected from FNC’s regular primetime programming. 1/2 Hour is sandwiched in between first run primetime episodes of Hannity’s America and The Lineup.
It doesn’t matter to me what 1/2 Hour’s idealogy is or even whether it’s funny or not. I object to it on general principle. News networks shouldn’t be doing straight comedy programs. Period. That’s where I stand. What’s your opinion?
UPDATE: As has been pointed out in the comments, CNN International airs a half hour weekend update of The Daily Show so FNC wasn’t the first channel to do this. And nobody made a peep about CNNI doing it (though CNNI doesn’t have much of an audience in the US due to carriage issues). I don’t get CNNI so I didn’t even know it was on there; in primetime no less. Had I known though it wouldn’t have changed my position any. Two wrongs don’t make a right.