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Real vs. Fake News

Posted by Kara Miller, Culture Club  June 29, 2011 08:04 AM

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In the last 24 hours, much of the best television news coverage has been emanating from CNBC, which sent anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera to cover tear-gas-filled riots in Greece.

But the CNBC story is not just about Greece. It's about us - a tale of what happens when a nation with ever-growing debt obligations faces deep, almost-indiscriminate budget cuts.

Unfortunately, Greece has been getting little coverage on mainstream programs - including NBC's The Today Show and ABC's Good Morning America, both jewels in their news divisions.

Instead - once again - we have become transfixed by a single, salacious story (assuming Today and GMA are simply exploiting a narrative that has proved to be ratings gold), which is largely disconnected from the wider world.

America has officially entered its Casey Anthony phase.

We've been here before, of course. Think Mary Kay Letourneau. Or Laci Peterson. Young, attractive white women whose stories squeeze out wars, deficits, political races, and social upheaval.

So, on the morning shows today, commentary on Greece - and how its travails may soon become ours - was scarce, but commentary on the Casey Anthony trial was plentiful.

Ashleigh Banfield and Nancy Grace weighed in on ABC, and Star Jones and Savannah Guthrie offered expertise on NBC.

You didn't hear much about Congress' inability to reach budget agreements - or a new Lieberman/Coburn proposal to raise Medicare eligibility to age 67.

GMA, though, did do an extended segment on a man who blames Jerry Seinfeld for his divorce, and Today highlighted both the world's ugliest dog and NYC's skinniest home.

Greece? Isn't that a Travolta movie?

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About the author

Kara Miller is an Assistant Professor of English, specializing in journalism, at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. She also serves as a guest panelist on WGBH-TV's “Beat the Press” and contributes to 89.7 FM WGBH (NPR). More »

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