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What I’ve Learned From Dropping Fox News

I switched cable providers, and the new one inexplicably lacks Fox News. Although Fox isn’t perfect, I’m suffering.

I switched to Dish from Comcast about three months ago. Dumb. I was hoping to save some money and don’t care for Comcast’s politics. I knew satellites have some reception problems during storms, but was willing to live with that. I had no idea they would drop the only channel worth watching on television.

Now, I don’t like everything about Fox. Sean Hannity is too strident for my tastes, and Bill O’Reilly is a blowhard bully, but I’m less interested in the prime-time programming than in the daytime news, now that I’m retired and at home most days.

Of course, being retired means I’m far from the “key demographic” advertisers crave, so no one really cares what I think. The advertisers are right: I don’t spend much money these days. I have all the clothes and furniture I will ever need, we mostly eat at home, I’m not a drinker, and I’m certainly not buying expensive gifts to impress a love interest—we’ve been together long enough that she is beyond being impressed by anything I might do.

But I am, and have always been, a news junkie. Even in elementary school my favorite topic was “current events,” and I’ve been active in politics my whole life. So, unlike most of the public, I relish the “24-hour news cycle.” So, life without Fox News has been educational.

This is what I have learned so far.

The Other Outlets Are Shallow and One-Sided

Both MSNBC and CNN are far more one-sided than I ever realized. Other than “Morning Joe,” they simply do not allow dissenting voices on their daytime programming. Anytime there is a story that needs a political comment, CNN will have a single has-been Democrat member of Congress. When MSNBC wants a variety of viewpoints, they will range from the Huffington Post on the Right to Mother Jones on the Left. Nobody ever disagrees with one another on these shows. It is really extraordinary.

Now, I will concede that Fox tilts Right and the liberal voice is usually outnumbered by conservatives, but at least there is an alternative point of view. That makes for much more interesting television.

But it isn’t just the commentary. CNN ran a feature about the ten biggest stories of 2014, and didn’t even mention the midterm elections. Like it never even happened.

Please Stop Boring Me

Then, when the latest airplane disappeared, CNN talked about nothing else. Really. I had heard they were obsessed by the Malaysian Air disappearance, but I had no idea how far it went. They don’t even do a “top of the hour” roundup of what else is happening in the world. And it is BORING. They will recruit a panel of “experts” who know absolutely nothing about the event in question. Six people all saying, “Well, it is too soon to know” is tedious. They even recruited a pilot to talk about flying in bad weather. But he was a pilot of fighter jets who had never flown a commercial airplane in his life!

And I know it was just the holidays, so some of the programming is junior varsity, but MSNBC fills a lot of its daytime with reruns of something called “Caught on Camera.” Whatever happened to 24-hour news?

But the really surprising thing to me was the technical superiority of Fox News over these other outlets. In every way that enhances the viewing experience—lighting, camera angles, makeup, sound quality, sets, supporting graphics—CNN just looks amateurish, like what you might see coming out of a high-school journalism class. MSNBC is better in these areas, but still not up to the Fox News standard.

So, overall, I really want to get Fox back in my life, and I hate Dish for depriving me of it. I haven’t quite decided if it is worth paying the early termination penalty to get out of my two-year contract, but I’m sorely considering it.

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