Matt Lewis

In defense of ‘The place for politics’

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

Some conservatives on Twitter this morning were gleeful at a New York Times story, wherein the head of a cable news outlet seemed be conceding the news part of the equation to the competitors:

“’We’re not the place for that,’ said Phil Griffin, the channel’s president, in reference to covering breaking events as CNN does. ‘Our brand is not that.’”

It sounds worse than it is.

Despite poor ratings, of late (and thanks, in part, to NBC News’ Pete Williams), the outlet’s coverage of events like the Supreme Court’s ObamaCare decision and the Boston Marathon bombings was surprisingly solid. And while I might prefer the network hadn’t taken such a leftward lurch in recent years, Griffin isn’t altogether wrong in terms of recognizing a market niche.

Why should every cable news channel cover the same stories?

To be sure, when an event like the Boston bombings take place, that story rightly overshadows everything else. And maybe, out of merit — or just habit — CNN benefits.

But how often does that happen? In a world where everything is defined as “breaking news,” much of what passes for breaking news is really overblown. I was once bumped from a TV hit about politics on one of the cable networks because a mountain lion (or something) was on the loose in some San Diego neighborhood…

Should Chuck Todd or Chris Matthews really have to segue from talking about politics or policy to discussing the “poop cruise” or the Jodi Arias trial? Aren’t there plenty of other places for that?

In the long run, strategically speaking, focusing on political commentary might not be such a bad strategy.