It's been reported that the CBS and ABC evening news broadcasts had all-time-low ratings last week, and that NBC Nightly News' ratings were also quite low. This continues a pattern of sagging ratings in recent months for the major networks' news programming.
This should surprise no one. The networks are only reaping what they have sown. More and more people, among those still capable of critical thought, are coming to realize that most of what they see on the network "news" is not really news as traditionally defined, i.e., recent factual developments. Rather, at best, it's pre-packaged entertainment pablum, and at worst out-and out-propaganda, ranging from subtle to blatant. All of it is manipulative, designed to sell a value system, a viewpoint, a policy, even a product. Stories are introduced and summed with silly commentary from a conceited, sanctimonious anchorperson, and the stories themselves consist of little more than amateurish video and chopped-up sound bites. You gain almost no factual knowledge or real insight, but the shallow idea that the media wants you to take away from it is usually clear enough. If you're watching the evening news, you're also treated to endless pharmaceutical commercials apparently intended to usher in the Hypochondriac Nation. In the end, you feel used, cheated, and insulted for the time you spent watching.
I quit watching network news altogether four years ago, during the coverage of Hurricane Katrina. I tuned in originally for the same reason that I'm sure most people did, to find out about the extent of devastation and loss of life attending the great natural disaster that had just happened. I already felt that network news programs (excepting, perhaps, 60 Minutes) were usually a waste of time, but they seemed at least fairly good with situations like disasters, where the facts pretty much are the story. Then I saw them turn an immense Act of God into a partisan political witch-hunt, a shameless lynching of President Bush, twisting everything that happened and everything that was said and done in the hurricane's wake, day after day, into a weapon against him. The fiendish glee with which they focused on and exploited the pathetic crowd in the New Orleans Superdome, goading them into rabid on-camera diatribes against the federal government in general and George Bush in particular, was so plain and disgusting that I had to turn the crap off, and I haven't turned it back on since. The government's response may not have been a model of speed and efficiency (thanks largely to bumbling, self-centered state and local authorities, then mostly Democrats), but no rational, reasonably fair person would believe that the hurricane and its aftermath was all a conspiracy to make poor black people suffer.
But that's how the major news media presented it, and with little or no attempt even to look objective. Now that their favorite whipping boy has been replaced with their infallible Messiah, of course, the media have never been more more cooperative, more supportive, and more obsequious toward the powers that be. Whether they're blatantly crucifying or shamelessly fawning, the obvious bias of the major news media deprives them utterly of credibility. It's plain to the simplest person that they're worthless as a source of objective, reliable information. So, as long as the quality of the major networks' product is no better than one can find on the Internet or in other sources of partisan commentary, there's no reason for anyone to pay special attention to them. At least I don't have to listen to commercials for intestinal gas remedies at Breitbart.com.