Wednesday, January 29, 2003

What was he thinking? I'm still trying to wrap my brain around something that Syracuse University television scholar Robert Thompson told the Globe's Mark Jurkowitz, who weighs in today with a piece on new 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager. Noting that 60 Minutes' ratings have been falling during the last few years of the Don Hewitt era, Thompson said, ''Once 24-hour cable television kicked in, 60 Minutes couldn't stay in the same cultural positioning it once had.''

Now what, exactly, is Thompson referring to? The lamebrained idiocy of the Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes? The tabloid trash of Connie Chung's show on CNN? The breathless efforts of the well-meaning Phil Donahue as he fails in his attempt to prove to MSNBC that he's still relevant?

There are a few good shows on cable news, but not many, and precisely zero with the deep reporting of 60 Minutes. Or perhaps Thompson was thinking of MSNBC Investigates, with its hard-hitting stories on tattoos and -- gasp! -- the shocking things that are picked up by in-store security cameras.

As Fager himself told Jurkowitz: "It's amazing how much crap makes it on TV."

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