This is an odd write-up:
To the casual viewer, cable news coverage of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death Wednesday lined up as neatly as the punch line in a joke about the alleged political agendas of those channels.
Starting from the safe premise that Kennedy was a liberal, you can probably even guess the order.
On the left: MSNBC, which went wall-to-wall Kennedy the entire day, interspersing fresh reactions with warm remembrances of his life and times.
On the right: Fox News, where Kennedy was the main story all day – but where it was often used as an opener to discussions of the health-care plan he endorsed, which faces heavy criticism and an uncertain fate.
In the middle: CNN, which stayed wall-to-wall longer than Fox and incorporated more Kennedy features, but broke off as well for other stories.
You know I’m always kind of hypercritical of the week long hagiographies following the death of someone “important.” There is just something about it that rubs me the wrong way, as if we treat some people like royalty. I can’t describe it, but it just irritates me.
But as far as what I have seen, and I only watch CNN and MSNBC, the Kennedy coverage has seemed quite restrained. I have Ratigan on in the background as I sit here, and I don’t think Kennedy’s name has even been mentioned in the last hour.
As a point of comparison, three days after Tim Russert died, they were in their 73rd hour of remembrances, there were candles in the studio, anyone who had ever met Tim Russert was given an opportunity to talk about how swell he was, et cetera. And that wasn’t just on MSNBC, it was like that on every channel. It was completely understandable, because he was their friend and one of “them,” but it was still nauseating.
Now I have no doubt that there is still ample time for the Kennedy funerals to go over the top, but I just haven’t seen any over the top coverage so far.