Fox brings in a billion dollars a year, Carr told Koppel. It caters, he said, to viewers who feel like, “we’re here in the bunker, they’re after us.”
Coulter would not stipulate that civil discourse has coarsened. “Back when you thought we were living in peace and harmony, we just felt like we were under attack,” she told Koppel.
“The bar for civility on cable television and talk radio has fallen so low,” Koppel said, “that by comparison [Bill] O’Reilly seems almost reasonable.”
You can make money by assassinating people that differ from you. There’s a success that wants everybody to come into the tent and watch. That’s me. And then there’s the success where you make money speaking to the choir, the haters. So if you’re a liberal, they hate George W. Bush. They hate him, so you smash him every single day. Same thing on the other side. They hate President Obama. … You look for ways to smash him. You don’t really care what the truth is, you just want to smash him. You can make a lot of money doing that, especially if you do it loud enough and vicious enough. And that’s what happened once cable news went up. You had some of those people come in. Some of them have washed up, but some of them haven’t. And it’s nasty.
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer implied to Koppel that the demonizing went beyond cable:
Today’s journalists, too often, because it’s profitable to do so and it builds audiences, see their job not to inform but to incite, to get people riled up, to get their juices running. People tend to choose to watch the channel that doesn’t give them facts, doesn’t make them think, but makes them think their views are the views, they’re accurate. And the other guys are bad dumb, wrong, the enemy.
As for the impact, Carr gets the last word. “I think it’s an existential threat to our perfect union, I really do. … People tune in for the warfare and they’re not interested in the fruits of peace.” Peace, Carr says, is “bad television. Who’d want to watch that?”
Related: Bill O’Reilly interviews Ted Koppel | Greta Van Susteren’s takeaway from the interviews, “Broadcast news people may have deluded themselves into thinking that they are pure because they often show no passion in their voices or volume in the talk. A modulated voice and soft volume does not mean no bias. It only means modulated voice and soft volume. They THINK their bias is not shown (or even that they have none) and therein lies their self delusion.” | Why Bill O’Reilly won’t be the next anchor of the evening news || Watch the videos below.