Now that we’re almost 24 hours into The War, here are some thoughts about how it’s being covered on television:
ABC — The only major network to omit the annoying “crawl” from the bottom of the screen, and thus the only source I can watch with any regularity and not get dizzy. Peter Jennings is smart and well-spoken. Correspondents are the weakest, with the exception of Ted Koppel, who is excellent.
CBS — Can anyone take the corn-ball Dan Rather seriously? Completely unwatchable. The big green LIVE blob in the top-right of the screen is very annoying, especially when combined with the ever-present “crawl” at the bottom.
NBC — Best correspondents. I can take or leave Brokaw. Same “crawl” problem. Good alternative is CNBC, which uses the intelligent and insightful Forest Sawyer as host during the evening.
FOX — Like watching an SCTV imitation of real news.
CBC — Seems like second generation news: I get the impression that people at CBC are watching the pool feeds from afar, and reporting what others are reporting. Correspondents seem remote from the war, and experts seem to neither be expert nor particularly informed. And there’s the usual “Mansbridge as automaton” problem.
CNN — Very full of themselves, but arguably the best coverage going. Smart, well-informed experts; correspondents all over the place (including Nic Robertson, who’s taking his life in his own hands by staying in Baghdad). Aaron Brown is very annoying — almost as much as Dan Rather — other hosts less so.
PBS — Charlie Rose has the best commentary with the best guests.