ELDER MUSIC: Some Classical Couth
Age and the U.S. Presidency

A Reader's Question About News

A couple of days ago, an email arrived from longtime TGB reader and elderblogger Marion Vermazen, saying,

“I would love a blog post about which news shows you enjoy and watch regularly. Do you watch Fareed Zakaria?”

Marion did not convince me in her short note that what I watch and read is worth a blog post but then I realized that I'm curious about what news sources you use and it would be fun to compare notes.

Sort of - I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

To get Fareed Zakaria out of the way – I watched his Sunday TV show for several months after it began and enjoyed the guests he books. But the goal for me is always to cut down on news reading and watching time and since Mr. Zakaria is primarily concerned with foreign affairs, I stopped. I suppose if we get into another war (Iran?), I'll go back to watching him.

I organize most of my news consumption around my twin interests: aging and U.S. politics both of which, by their nature and my concern, also involve social issues.

My day begins with coffee at the computer, The New York Times, of course. It is the closest thing we have to a national newspaper and even with the myriad complaints that legitimately can be made about its reporting, it is still the best, most comprehensive and most fair, if not necessarily balanced, of the major papers, with some excellent beat reporters.

I glance at Washington Post headlines and occasionally read its opinion page, but the paper so often mixes opinion within news stories that I ignore most of it.

But let me get to Marion's exact question – what news do I watch (or not).

It has been years since I last tuned in any of the network evening news broadcasts. With the internet breaking news all day, they can't tell me anything new and they don't deal in opinion about the news so they have become irrelevant for me, a waste of time.

Mostly, I get hard news and facts from the internet, a variety of sources. I use television for perspective and context – that is, opinion and discussion.

I keep a small television set next to my desk in the living room and usually turn on MSNBC at about 4PM for Chris Matthews while I'm doing other things. There is a lot to argue against with Matthews but I like his enthusiasm for Washington politics and enjoy some of his regular pundits – Ron Reagan among them.

I stop what I'm doing to pay closer attention when there is an issue or guests I care about or I sometimes click over to Fox News because I keep telling myself I should listen to the opposition. But the presenters there are so deeply stupid and superficial that to stick around would rot my brain.

It needs to be noted that for cable television, west coast residents like me are second-class citizens. Chris Matthews opens his program every day by saying, “Good evening”, when it's only 4PM because it is 7PM where he is in Washington, D.C. (Actually, that 4PM show is a rebroadcast which originally airs at 2PM Pacific time, 5PM eastern.)

Other people I watch regularly or spotcheck during the week are Reverend Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell – all on MSNBC. (Several months ago, I gave up CNN which I had watched only now and then anyway.)

I've gone off Maddow in the past month or two. Have you noticed that she drones on forever without getting to a point?

Whatever her topic, she finds it necessary to regurgitate everything she ever learned about it whether it applies to the current news or not and her rat-a-tat-tat delivery of irrelevant information exhausts me without providing useful insight. So I don't watch as often as I once did.

Al Sharpton is a – well, sharp, old pol. What he lacks in television presence he makes up in subtle and sometimes cunning political insights that many reporters don't take notice of. And Lawrence O'Donnell is smart, smart, smart. I particularly like his (as with Matthews) insider government knowledge from having worked as a Congressional aide.

As I mentioned above, I've given up on Zakaria and also on most Sunday political television not necessarily because I don't like it but I want more time away from both politics and aging and those Congress people they book mostly sit there and lie to us – amusing, but not when I'd rather be doing something else. And on the rare occasional anything beyond the party line is said, it is reported elsewhere.

However, I have a new news crush. Since September, Chris Hayes has been hosting Up on MSNBC on Saturday and Sunday mornings. He is young, engaging, compelling, whip smart and immensely likable.

Hayes, just 32 years old, is also editor-at-large for The Nation magazine and before being given his own show, frequently appeared on or substituted for Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann before he left MSNBC.

He is the freshest voice on news television right now, obviously curious about all things political with a broad and often deep knowledge of the topics he chooses. His guests range from the usual suspects to some surprises from outside the punditry business who have a different spin on politics and government.

At the end of each show, Chris and each of his guests tell us what they know now that they did not know a week ago. It's a fun idea but also useful in pinpointing what happened in the past few days that is more than noise and actually adds to our knowledge or understanding.

If you live on west coast, you have be dedicated to watch Chris Hayes' show live. It begins at 4AM on Saturdays and 5AM on Sundays. I wake early so I usually see a few minutes of Saturday and most of Sunday.

Or, if you have a DVR, you could record it. And you can watch full episodes online at the Up with Chris Hayes website.

Television is, however, the least of my news consumption. Most is print/internet where I have about 40 to 50 daily or weekly feeds and newsletters and a dozen Google Alerts.

If you think that's excessive, you're right and no, I don't keep up with them all and I've actually deleted a few in the past couple of weeks. Maybe I'll get it down to a manageable number soon.

Now it's your turn. What do you watch and where else do you get your news.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Food in China


I watch most of the MSNBC programs you mentioned, especially Matthews in the afternoon. I don't watch CNN on a regular basis, but if there's breaking news, I do check for their live coverage.

I do watch the evening news on NBC, since I like to see their presentation of what I have already read on the AP website. It's quite interesting to see what they leave out or cover. And also I watch the local evening news from the two nearest large cities, as well as read our local daily newspaper.

My home page on my browser is www.myway.com You can get the top headlines from as many news sources as you wish, and I include the New York Times, all the networks, as well as various other sources. I glance at those first thing in the morning while having my coffee.

I guess I'm a bit of a newshound, since I worked as a journalist in the past. I feel extremely cut-off if unable to read or see the daily news -- local, national (and somewhat)international.

PBS, the News Hour. Especially on Friday when Mark Shields is on.


I agree with you that the computer is the place to get your news.

My husband will rush into my computer room with a TV "Stop the presses" news flash!!

"Huntsman has quit the race",he will shout. I will calmly reply,"Yes, I know. It was on my computer news alert a few hours ago."

I do watch Brian Williams on NBC in the evening to see the general news, but for the real thing I turn to Larry O'Donnell and Chris Matthews.

I love that they go back to the old days of Tip O'Neil and compare what went on then to what is happening now.That's my kind of commentary.

I also love that Larry is involved with buying all those little students in Africa a nice desk to sit at and learn.

In closing, I want you to know that I have figured out what is wrong with most of the republican candidates..
They suffer from "ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION."

I am watching the news less and less. It's just one disaster after another. Ack!! Most of the time I don't even want to know about the weather--surprise me. For example, we've had a terrible drought here in Texas for most of a year now. Well, Monday we had a good, old gully-washer. I was out on the porch enjoying the smell and sound of all the rain but the radio was moaning and groaning about flooded streets (the same streets that flood every time it rains).
Nancy, I love that Electile Dysfunction phrase.

Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz and sometimes Rachel if there is more I want to hear. I do not watch them every day though. I get most of my news off the computer with various newspapers and sites like Daily Beast or Huffington. Some days I avoid the whole thing

I have similar tastes and follow MSNBC. My favorite commentator is the brilliant Melissa Harris-Perry who fills in for Rachel and other at times. Would be excited if she had her own show!

I watch CNN's Morning Express while getting ready in the mornings. It's mainly headlines and not much depth of reporting but I like Robin Meade for the most part. MSNBC on the weekends. Like you I have given up on the network news programs. I do faithfully watch Bill Maher's Real Time program on HBO. He typically has a panel that represents the spectrum of opinions and Rev. Sharpton has been a frequent participant. His "New Rules" feature is irreverent and usually very funny.

My favorite news source is NPR. Shows I would recommend are All Things Considered - general news, Marketplace – financial news and BBC News for worldwide coverage.

I don't get MSNBC or HBO. I get loads from various computer sources- NYT being one. We watch PBS Newshour, McLaughlin Group, and Squawkbox. We also watch the first ten minutes of evening news. Occasionally we do CNN on breaking news and BBC on international news. I also depend on NPR.
After living overseas for an extended period, being involved in loads of news, and having kids in the businesses they are in. I am a news junkie. It takes lots of sources to see the entire picture. I never listen to one side. I don't watch FOX - I get their news from my elderly mother :)

I am rather eclectic in my news watching/reading. We start the morning with the local ABC news (if Chicago can really be called local). On the weekends we supplement that with a South Bend station. Somethimes we watch Good Morning, America. Often though the news isn't news and it is highly repetitive. I don't really need story after story day after day about Beyonce's new baby. We put on our local and national news from 4 to 6 each week day.

Much of my news and commentary comes from the internet. I check in each morning with MSNBC, BBC, NHK World, Deutche Welle, and then go to my google alerts on specific topics I am interested in and then to my blog roll. Sometimes I also drop by the LA Times and Asahi Shimbun.

I am amazed at how often a story appears on our national or local news broadcasts and I have already read it elsewhere. I am also amazed in how much they leave our or what they choose to emphasize.

Years ago I watched, in tandem, the political talk shows on Sunday mornings. I was such a political junkie and could not get enough. Now, on rare occasions I will catch a glimpse of George Stephanopolis and his guests, if the T.V. is even on. Mostly though I get my news from the internet. I agree with you Ronnie, that what news is presented in the evenings is by then old news, so I don't watch it. Local news is even worse and I will only watch the weather segment to find out details of a coming winter storm.
Changing subjects just a bit here. When I read your blog post on Moyers the other day I went to his website and watched his interview with Hacker and Pierson. I have to say Ronnie that I was so dismayed hearing them confirm what I already felt about Washington, Politics, Wall Street, big Corpa. and other bedfellows that something changed inside me. I decided to give some serious thought to leaving the United States and living in a country that puts its people first. I know this is so "pie in the sky" and reactive but the fact is Washington, politics, and money have a much bigger impact and a louder voice on this country's democracy than my vote ever will, and I don't see the top 1% allowing changes in policy to favor what's good and fair for the 99%; or back to a time when monetary growth and quality of life for all citizens is in relative comparison to that of a CEO. I have time to sit with my decision, I don't retire for another 6 years and maybe I'll change my view but for now that interview gave me some serious things to think about. Yes I'm sure you maybe wondering why I don't get involved in some grassroots movement? I tried that, with the Obama campaign, and, well the last four years speaks for itself. I just don't have anymore hope left in me.

The internet is invaluable to me to allow so much coverage worldwide for various viewpoints. I share much of the above, am glad to learn of Chris Hayes and just visited his website. Am looking forward to Bill Moyers' new show; however, it will not be shown on our local public tv station, so am thankful for his website for viewing it.

NPR is on first thing in the morning, and I too am hooked on Mark Shields and David Brooks on Friday's PBS Newshour. I'll start recording Chris Hayes, and I agree about Maddow's prattle. But my favorite 30 minute weekly recap is Inside Washington on PBS (from Wikipedia): "The tone of Inside Washington is very different from that of The McLaughlin Group, one of its major competitors. Where the McLaughlin Group panelists and John McLaughlin himself are prone to loud voices and direct arguments, the Inside Washington panelists tend to remain at a normal speaking voice and are rarely combative. In addition, Peterson is much less likely to provide his personal opinion on the topic than McLaughlin."

I agree--MSNBC does a stellar job of reporting the real story. If you live on the West Coast, please encourage MSNBC to run Up with Chris Hayes later in the morning, or rerun it later in the day instead of prison shows!

I know what you mean about Rachel, but I find that when she does do a kind of long narrative, she always has a purpose: she's trying to "connect the dots" or give the background that TV so often glosses over.

Moreover, she never seems disheartened (as I get) about the bad news!

I don't watch television (except for football) so I get no news that way unless I hear of a breaking visual story and turn the thing on.

On the net, I struggle to keep my sources broad and eclectic. This is hard and getting harder as Google leads us to repeats of what we have already shown an interest in.

I resent the NYT charging for its content (tho I pay up) because I'm enough of a skin flint that I feel I must therefore read it and that crowds out other sources.

I have several Google news alerts on topics of immediate importance to me (these days "death penalty" and "California") so I get those.

None of this makes me feel informed.

thanks for watching what i usually watch. i listen to npr during the day, especially leonard lopate at noon to 2. good guests and he interviews well. at night i start with the jim leher gang on pbs and when they get too stuffy i switch to chris matthews because he's fun and i like ron reagan, too. ed schultz i can skip, ditto rachel these days, and by the time larry o'donnell comes on i'm sick of words. but he's good when i can stand more. i like chris hayes when i've seen him but early sat. and sun. mornings? oof. just realized i missed bill moyers' first broadcast. what was i doing at 6 pm last night? and the only NYTimes i read is on sunday on the computer (free because i subscribe to the book review).

As usual, I am SO HAPPY to read what you have to share! Since my husband's passing I have discovered a world filled with many things new (for me). Keeping up with news, and doing it efficiently, is a new skill(for me). Thanks to ALL for sharing your most valued input!

almost forgot (i'm 85). i listen to marketplace every night at 6:30 on npr because it's not just about business, and if it is, there's always another twist worth hearing. i learn a lot from marketplace. elaine (again)

I have been suffering from overload recently and have cut my viewing down to Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton. I get most of my news on the Internet and get a ton of e-mails every day. I have started deleting more and more of them as the Republican Presidential contests heat up. I am already sick to death of that.

I quit watching Rachel Maddow some time ago because she talks so fast (rat-a-tat as you stated, Ronni) that even closed captioning doesn't help me keep up with her.

Like you, I used to watch Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, but I forget to turn him on now so have missed his show for months.

Basically, my political TV viewing matches yours, Ronni and all I can add to what others have said is that I read Mark Shields column on Saturday. He's an old pro at this political game and tells interesting things from past campaigns.

I have watched what was the Macneil Lehrer News Hour and is now the PBS News Hour for more than 20 years and have become increasingly frustrated and disappointed with its shift to a more "popular" viewpoint and kowtowing to the right-wing powers that be in Congress. What appears to be a phasing-out of my contemporary Jim Lehrer is also unfortunate.
But maybe Bill Moyers new venture will provide welcome surcease

Internet: CNN.com, MyWay News, Google News. Mostly I just skim their headlines.

NYTimes online: Just Op-Ed columnists Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd.

Radio: NPR & an FM talk station.

If I still had a TV, I'd get my daily news from Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. News with a twist of truthiness!

Style Crone: Melissa Harris-Perry will be starting her own MSNBC weekend show soon, right after UP with Chris Hayes. I always watch "UP" from the web site, because I'm not likely to get up in the early a.m. out here in Hawaii, even for Chris.
I had the pleasure of breaking bread, as it were, at the Nation Magazine Cruise before last with Chris Hayes. He used the same techniques with us dinner companions that he applies on his program, of talking and listening with enthusiasm. Melissa Harris Perry was also on this cruise, and I went to one of her break-out sessions. She is, of course, darling, as well as being brilliant and fun. The whole Nation Magazine Cruise experience was so fantastic that I went again this year. By then, of course, Perry and Hayes were too busy to come along, but other old and new lefties made this a memorable experience. I'm going again next year.
And let us not forget Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, stalwart of the left!This a.m. there is a retrospective on MLK which broadcasts his speech at the Riverside Church the year before he was assassinated in which he voiced his opposition to the Vietnam War.
For my basic news fix I download the NYT once or twice on weekdays and always on Sundays. I love that "most e-mailed feature", that gives me Krugman and Gail Collins and others.

I concur with your perception about Chris Hayes. I linked on to him when he would do guest spots for Olberman's Countdown and the Rachel Maddow show

I watch MSNBC (except Rachel Maddow), To The Contrary w/Bonnie Erbe; the McLaughlin Group,read the NYTimes online and was delighted to watch Bill Moyers return to PBS.

I gave up on TV network news long ago. Most of my news now comes from the internet. I used to be a regular MSNBC viewer until Keith Olbermann left: he rubbed some people the wrong way, I guess, but I found him must-viewing. I don't like Ed Schultz (I don't know why, I just don't), Rachel comes on at an inconvenient time for me, and O'Donnell comes on too late. I agree with the comment about Melissa Harris-Perry, she's terrific, and MSNBC could draw me back if she gets a regular gig.

Now that I have an internet radio, I find myself increasingly listening to progressive news talk radio, and my favorites there are Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann.

Finally, I can't limit myself to hard news only: I couldn't survive without my evening dose of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption and Sports Center. Amidst all the politics, wars and disasters, that's my preferred viewing for happy hour relaxation.

Everything I would have said has been said--we're apparently a like-minded group. I hope there are lots of us out there because every vote will be needed to keep Mitt (vulture capitalist) or Newt (just plain vulture) from unseating Obama. While I no longer have the high hopes I had for Obama in 2008, I believe he's doing the best he can in the face of unrelenting conservative obstructionism and Big Money. If he wins a 2nd term, I think he will feel empowered to act more boldly to look out for the interests of the 99%.

One of the most important things elders can do (in my view) is to support Bernie Sanders in his efforts to abolish Citizens United. Any society that accepts the definition of a corporation as a "person" has a serious problem!

I too am a regular addict of NPR news, tho lately they are seeming fonder of interviewing more and more politically conservative and christian fundamentalist types, which I just switch off.

Agreed, Marketplace is good, as is Science Friday, and, er, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me (to take the pulse of pop America.)

I have started occasionally checking in at Al Jazeera English, self described as "featuring the latest news and reports from around the world"
http://www.aljazeera.com/video/ to get a more complete picture of their world view, especially what is covered, but also how it is covered. The contrast can be very instructive.

Thanks for this thread!

I haven't had a TV set in my house since 1985, don't listen to radio and don't buy newspapers. I get all my news from Internet sources such as BBC website, Huffpost, RSS feeds and a bunch of social networks, newsletters and listservs.

Oh, yes, I forgot Jim Hightower's radio show, though I am always disappointed that all I ever get is very short pieces.

And I MUST mention Harry Shearer's Le Show at http://www.harryshearer.com/news/le_show/
even if they are several days old....

I tape BBC America News early then watch when I get up so I can fast forward if needed. I like to see another view of the world that isn't usually shown. I turn to Chris Matthews in the evening and also Reverend Al. I don't give them my full attention but can rewind if I want to actually listen to something they said. On line I like to check in on Spiegel and English Aljazeera and I love the Huff Post. Some days I just soak up the little obscure weird stories to help cheer me up. Also I have a question about CNN. Do those news people reread the same stories over and over and act surprised each time or are they just hanging around the studio showing us the endless loop of the 4 top stories of the day?

TV: CNN (for headlines), Chris Matthews (less & less), PBS NewsHour (for many many years), & Jon Stewart (to hear someone express my opinions). Online: NYT, Wash Post, Salon, art news blogs. Radio: Morning Edition, Diane Rehm Show, All Things Considered.

Did not know about Chris Hayes or Melissa Harris-Perry or myway.com. I'll check out all those. Thanks.

Why I get the bigoted newspaper here, I do not know. But I do. I watch morning news on four channels flipping through them as if the commercials will wash me away. Which I know they will. NBC evening news...or bits of it. But if I want to really know something, I start with the BBC online.

I get my news from the internet. The only TV news I watch is the 10 p.m. local news, mainly to get the weather report and only if I can stay awake for it. I have a roku device for my TV and can get the BBC and al Jazeera on it if something international arises. And I subscribe to the Economist in spite of its conservative bias. The Denver Post has gone down a steep hill and I am ending my subscription to it. I may start watching local news at 5 in the absence of the paper.

To all of the above I must add the Christian Science Monitor online (can't afford the print subscription. This reading habir dates back to my days as a high school speech coach; it was always a reliably un-biased source of news.

Like you, I have subscribed to the NY Times online. Also get "alerts" from CNN, MSNBC, Pew Research,OWS, and a few other activist groups like moveon.org. Watch BBC News and CNNI (CNN International.

Very few other news sources appeal to me as most of them are just 'talking heads' that offer nothing that even resembles "news" in its more pure form.

Ooops ... how could I have forgotten one and only favorite source of news (and entertainment) -- Public Broadcasting, of course. Every radio I have is permanently tuned to KPBS radio here in San Diego. I have threatened to break the fingers of anyone who tries to change tha fixed position on the dial!

I do watch Zakaria. It is useful to realize there is a world, and world views, outside North America.

NY Times and Washington Post in print. NPR while I'm in the car most days. Brooks and Shields are special. And occasionally Rachel Maddow. But lately I do leave the NYTimes online to check on updates.

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