THE TIN KAZOO: Television, Politics and the News by Edwin Diamond

THE TIN KAZOO: Television, Politics and the News

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In this detailed and critical study of broadcast news, Diamond argues that the impact of TV on national audiences is considerably less than is generally believed. The answer to the cynical question of the Nixon White House--""Will it play in Peoria?""--is a resounding ""No!"" Indeed, actual surveys in Peoria during the Watergate exposures showed that the audience ""Out There"" was by no means complacent, uninformed and apathetic--Diamond implies that they were probably several steps ahead of the networks in demanding straight answers to hard-nosed questions. The study however isn't confined to TV coverage of Watergate; Diamond closely examines network reportage of the Vietnam War at such crucial junctures as the Gulf of Tonkin, the Cambodian invasion and the affair of Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. In each case he finds that TV newsmen lagged behind the stories; failed to provide sharp, incisive analyses; concentrated on ""human interest"" rather than issues; used the loaded rhetoric of administration sources (""protective reaction,"" ""Vietnamization,"" ""Peace with Honor"") and generally insulted the intelligence of the American people. By 1973, Diamond notes, the irony was complete: the administration had succeeded in ""winding down the coverage of the war, rather than the war itself."" He blames the innate conservatism of the networks, the standard, highly stylized 23-minutes-after-commercials programming, the fervent pursuit of marginal changes in the ""furnishings"" rather than the content of the news, and the dedicated adherence to ""superstraight,, superjudicious"" coverage. A worthwhile rebuttal to the myth of the ""video-tranquilized"" viewers and the often-heard charge that the East Coast media is packed with liberals and radicals busily distorting events leftward. Diamond gives all three networks low marks for completeness, accuracy and originality of presentation: no wonder the audience is paying less attention than it used to.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1975
Publisher: MIT Press