It is no secret that cable news has shifted to an opinion dominated medium. The top two cable news channels, Fox News and MSNBC, are both dominated by opinion shows in their evening telecasts. CNN has a dash of opinion sprinkled in to mostly unbiased news coverage. The main broadcast stations are also pretty safe. Opinion based programs are not necessarily a bad thing, as they can help you view things in a different way than you are accustomed to. For that reason, I always encourage people to peek beyond their horizons and sample opinions from the other side to see how people think differently than they do.
MSNBC has a new show called “The Cycle” that airs at 2:00 PM CDT every afternoon that showcases four hosts. Three of the hosts are liberal commentators, while one is conservative. The program brings in guests from all angles of political affiliation, and there is a healthy back and forth present each afternoon. Programs like this (and the Five, which I will get to in a moment) are some of my favorites, because it forces strong willed commentators to square off with each other. The show features a young crew of commentators that bring a fresh take on the news.
At 3:00 PM CDT I recommend switching over to CNN for the “Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”. Wolf is one of my favorite people in the news business, and the “Situation Room” is one of the best programs to catch up on the news of the day. I believe his program is superior to the opinion based commentary available on Fox News and MSNBC in the 3:00 PM hour.
4:00 PM CDT showcases another of my favorites, “The Five”. This program has a similar format to “The Cycle”, and in fact was likely the inspiration for that show as it came first. “The Five” has five different rotating commentators, consisting of four conservatives, and one liberal. It is pretty much the exact opposite of “The Cycle” in this regard. The daily antics of liberal commentator Bob Beckel are a riot, and inside information from former President Bush press secretary Dana Perino are invaluable. Greg Gutfield brings much needed humor to the broadcast.
Around 5:00 PM CDT I usually check in with local news to see what is going on in my neck of the woods. I also like to hear a local perspective on national stories. It’s nice to take a break from the cable news bonanza every once in a while.
“Outfront” with Erin Burnett is a good watch at 6:00 PM CDT. Burnett is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former anchor at several programs on CNBC. Her career began as a financial analyst for Goldman Sachs. I enjoy her program for the expertise she provides on the financial world. Burnett is good at connecting the financial world to the rest of the news.
At 7:00 PM CDT I usually toon in to The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News. Bill O’Reilly is one of the most notorious commentators in the business, but his program is entertaining and he showcases a wide range of guests. Despite his assertions to the contrary, the O’Reilly Factor has a clear conservative tilt. Like most Fox News programs, there is a clear conservative bias. O’Reilly claims to be an independent, but his opinions almost always fall on the conservative side of the spectrum. That being said, he is more mild mannered these days than his contemporaries like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.
Rachel Maddow at 8:00 PM CDT is a must watch. Maddow is a liberal, and she does little to hid this fact. Her show has a clear liberal tint to it, but it is also fair. Maddow puts out some of the best investigative pieces in the business, and she often sheds light on the murky areas of politics. While she usually picks on conservatives, there is no denying the facts she represents.
This array of programs will help give you a balanced selection of news and commentary during election season. I am not advocated that you watch all of these programs every day, as that much television would not be good for you. I do recommend giving each show a watch occasionally. Americans need to broaden their horizons and not just watch programs that promote opinions they already agree with. The “echo chamber” as they call it is not helpful. Branch out and take in the opinions of those that disagree with you, and you will have more ammunition when you go into the voting booth this fall.