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Mixed thoughts on these shows

Reader comment on item: Television in Time of War

Submitted by Sean H. (United States), Aug 5, 2005 at 10:55

My feelings regarding the "Crossfire"-type debate shows are mixed.

Generally, I agree with critics here like Mr. Sullivan who argue that while participating in the debates may be unpleasant, the alternative is to allow the other side to present its case unrebutted. That would be one thing if the other side were simply expounding on it's ideology or strategy but oftentimes they use the opportunity to pass along rumor, misstate facts, mislead viewers, etc. Having their opponent nearby puts a limit on that.

But even a political junkie such as myself finds the constant b...y back and forth of these shows extremely tiresome. Nor does it help to illuminate the issue since both sides are usually far more interested in trying to "get" the other guy than to honestly explore the issue at hand. As a result, I rarely watch these shows anymore. Judging by their ratings, I'm not alone.

Much better are the ones where the host interviews someone one-on-one. Tim Russert of Meet the Press is the Best. Chris Matthews of Hardball has his moments, though he too can be grating. Best of all was Brian Lamb's unfortunately cancelled C-SPAN program Booknotes.
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