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January 27, 2010 | By Matea Gold
That Fox News scored a ratings victory usually wouldn't be a surprise. The cable news channel has beaten CNN and MSNBC for the last eight years, and its margins over its rivals keep growing. But last week, it managed to push past a competitor in another genre: USA, the powerhouse entertainment channel that has long held the spot as the top-ranked basic cable network in prime time. The network was lifted by the huge audience that tuned in for its coverage of the special election to fill the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts, underscoring how Fox News is benefiting from the conservative populist movement gaining steam across the country.
January 19, 2010 | By Matea Gold
Some of the most dramatic television images beamed from Haiti's quake-ravaged communities have shown harried doctors frantically tending the wounded with rudimentary tools. "To say it's primitive is an understatement," CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said Saturday on "The Early Show." "This is analogous to Civil War medicine." Ashton would know. As she spoke, the network aired footage of her in scrubs and a face mask, assisting in the nighttime surgery of a 15-year-old girl in shock from a hasty amputation.
January 15, 2010 | James Rainey
Anderson Cooper clambered to the top of a pile of rubble along a ruined Port-au-Prince street, joining the clutch of men digging fervently inside a dark crevasse. As his cameraman zoomed in on a pair of small, naked feet, the CNN anchor described the struggle to free 13-year-old Bea. The images swept the cable station's audience, in an instant, into a moment as intimate as it was epic, as unsettling as it was affirming -- a microcosm of Haiti's struggle these last three days. Could a handful of amateur rescuers, armed with a single shovel, win one skirmish against the country's sweeping devastation?
December 8, 2009 | By Matea Gold
When Comcast Corp. assumes control of NBC Universal, the company will inherit a portfolio of news organizations, including a top-shelf network news division that dominates the competition. Powered by the "Today" show in the morning and "NBC Nightly News" in the evening, NBC News is one of the few bright spots at the broadcast network. It's also one of the few aspects of the venture that will be largely new terrain for Comcast. Until now, the Philadelphia-based cable television operator's experience in news has been limited to running a handful of local television channels that produce newscasts, including the East Coast regional network CN8 until it shut down at the end of last year.
How you react to "By the People: The Election of Barack Obama," a new documentary premiering tonight on HBO, will be largely a matter of how you feel about Obama himself, and his election and presidency. (Birthers, come not here.) That the film itself is partial to its subject -- not just Obama but the army of campaign workers and supporters who put him in the White House and who are the meat of the film -- is clear even before you watch it: Taking a cue from the campaign's own playbook, HBO's website asks viewers to "spread the word" and "promote this film from your blog or Facebook page."
October 30, 2009 | JAMES RAINEY
White House versus Fox News eye gouging has been all the rage in recent days. The Obama administration calls the cable outlet a partisan political organ. Fox retorts that the president can't take a fair punch. Fox says just check its news programs -- filled with "fair and balanced" coverage -- and don't peg its reputation solely on the work of commentators like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. The debate over the meaning of Fox News has become so routine, and so routinely partisan, that one hesitates to join the fray again.
October 9, 2009 | JAMES RAINEY
In the television news business, they call them duopolies. How about a more descriptive name? Zombie stations. Turn on KCOP Channel 13 for the weeknight news at 11 p.m. and you won't see KCOP anchors. Or KCOP reporters. They aren't backed by KCOP writers. In the last year, even the KCOP logo disappeared. The station's news operation has been taken over -- lock, stock, news desk and teleprompter -- by its duopoly partner, KTTV Channel 11, the local Fox television affiliate, which itself has been hobbled by mass layoffs in recent months.
For three days, I couldn't find my fire on TV. And that's a problem -- before and after -- you've been evacuated from your La Crescenta home as I, my husband and my three children were in the early morning hours this weekend. As a television critic, I have spent hours watching endless news loops of Octomom coverage, Tim Russert memorials and the Sarah Palin watch. Less than two months ago, I sat through at least an hour's worth of overhead shots of a freeway emptied in anticipation of Michael Jackson's memorial procession.
August 31, 2009 | Lee Margulies
KNBC-TV Channel 4 was the big winner at the Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards again this year, picking up eight statuettes, including two of the three given for best newscasts. KNBC also captured eight last year to lead the pack. But while the Emmys for best local news programs were split last year among KTLA-TV Channel 5, KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9, this year KNBC won both in the category of newscasts 35 minutes or less (for "Channel 4 News at 11 p.m.") and newscasts longer than 35 minutes (for "Channel 4 News at 5 p.m."
August 21, 2009 | Martin Rubin
Justin Cartwright was born in South Africa in 1945, came to study at Oxford in the mid-1960s and has lived in England ever since. Like his previous novels, "To Heaven by Water" showcases his uncanny ability to get the British scene just right, combining the perspective of a onetime outsider with the innate knowledge of one thoroughly at home. The novel is a snapshot of a particular time in London -- the present -- and will serve very well one day as a time capsule of this interregnum.
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