Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Little Pearls of the Disingenuous

A Monday New York Times article by Jim Rutenberg and Seth Schiesel discussing the viability of the network television news divisions casually drops this comment about why CBS chooses to forego greater profitability by maintaining its essentially unprofitable newsdivision:

“The news division also helps keep regulators off of Viacom's back and gives the network political clout, but [Leslie Moonves, the CBS Television president],
denies those are factors.”

It is so obvious to the Times that the CBS news division confers “political clout” that this fact is introduced without any support whatsoever and notwithstanding the denial by Mr Moonves that it is “a factor” - presumably a “factor” in the CBS decision to retain the nearly profitless division. We are apparently to believe, at least by Mr. Moonves and without serious questioning by Messrs. Rutenberg and Schiesel, that the value of this “clout” does not color Mr. Moonves considerations, apparently either because he denies the existence of the very “clout” the Times finds so obvious, or because he is wilfully disregarding this valuable asset in his decision (the Times doesn't bother to tell us which it is). Inconsistenly with Mr. Moonves denials, he did not get to be the CBS Television president by either being oblivious to the existence of obvious valuable assets under his control or by disregarding them in important decisions. But the Times reporters do not dwell on any of this.

These remarkable little pearls of the disingenuous from Mr. Moonves and the Times may be worth remembering as Congress moves on what it calls a “campaign finance reform bill” so urged on the Republic by both CBS and the Times. After all, that campaign finance reform bill does not even attempt to “get the corrupting effects of big media political clout out of the electoral process.”

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