Danforth: Falling TV news standards and ratings | Opinion

It took 27 years for the BBC in London to get it right. But last week the British broadcasting giant officially apologized to Princes William and Harry’s ex-nanny. Journalist Martin Bashir tricked Princess Diana into giving her the 1995 interview in which she said “there were three of us in this marriage”.

Bashir allegedly persuaded Diana that people close to her were selling stories to London tabloids alluding to an affair between Prince Charles and the princes’ nanny, Alexandra Pettifer, then known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke, then aged 29 year. on the much-watched BBC show ‘Panorama’. It had an audience that was reminiscent of CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

The BBC’s first review of his practices exculpated himself. Diana’s interview had an explosive effect, advancing the true story of Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. Pettifer continued at the palace until 1999. Parker Bowles married Charles. Diana, who died in a 1997 car crash in Paris, never heard the apology, in which the BBC acknowledged Bashir’s original reports had been fabricated.

It wasn’t the first debunking in Bashir’s story, but it did feature the first formal apology to Pettifer.

What had happened to the famous BBC to allow the original allegations to air in the first place?

To answer it, we move on to the monetization of the tabloid reporting business, and the creation of a ratings racing circus from which its personalities themselves benefit.

Players let off steam on cable news shows that dominate Fox, MSNBC, CNN and more. They allow personalities such as Tucker Carlson (right) and Rachel Maddow (left) to create their own personalities. But in the long run, they carve out huge audience segments that often have little in common but insist that their beliefs are all we need to know about right and might.

This has become the commercial strategy of Fox News in particular. He has long attached his allegiance to fair standards, allowing notables to enjoy shooting star paychecks and proceeds from books and speaking engagements.

If money is the source of most evil, it is certainly generous sums. The latest development is Bank of Trump’s transformation into a full-fledged financial institution, with a star who can summon cash at the snap of a finger for often bogus claims. There is a chance to bet here for the first widely accepted claim that the world is flat – as a campaign pledge.

Let’s go back to the genius of Rush Limbaugh. Starting off with a silver tongue and a report mic, there was no doubt about it: it was all about the ratings. He gathered his talent by forming the BEI (network “Excellence in Broadcasting”, widely syndicated far-right religion). Rush sometimes found himself trapped by his own political preferences, but got around it by using taped vignettes to ridicule his chosen enemies, starting with Hillary Clinton.

Limbaugh may or may not have been aware that he was training legions of young entrepreneurial ears. Take your beliefs, brand them with outlandish assertions, slip in a pinch of commercial vinegar to enjoy the ratings, and clean the props for takeoff.

In this way, the personalities made it difficult for their own employers to fire them. They’ve also led to a host of bizarre beliefs, that assertion doesn’t matter if the audience meter reacts and anxious advertisers are kept at bay.

Some players, like Maddow, come off as obvious hard workers. Most undergo special training to present themselves as benevolent personalities. They are submissive to their bosses, as ex-CNN star Chris Cuomo learned. But their bosses, in turn, profess allegiance to their employers.

The real bosses here don’t show up on set and are much less appealing than the hedge fund-like entities backed by their companies.

But they’re in the driver’s seat in the ongoing drama that produced a belated pinch of regret for Alexandra Pettifer in London.

The writer (dukeofdanforth@gmail.com) is one of the founders of the Aspen Daily News and his column appears here on Sundays.