One Bad Shales Review Doesn’t Speak for ‘Critics’

Thanks to Jim Romenesko for flagging the dumb newspaper editorial of the day, courtesy of the Boston Globe, which conflates Washington Post critic Tom Shales’ strange review of Christiane Amanpour’s debut on ABC’s “This Week” into an orchestrated campaign by “critics” to squelch intelligent TV news.

For starters, the criticism cited about CNN’s new show pairing Eliot Spitzer and columnist Kathleen Parker stemmed primarily from Spitzer’s lack of journalism credentials. And the main complaint (not a completely illegitimate one) was that with all the journalists available, hiring a relative novice his this space like Spitzer seemed like a showy stunt — meant to cash in on his notoriety — as opposed to the pursuit of savvy debate. That said, the backlash wasn’t all that bad, and I suspect most respectable critics (if that’s not an oxymoron) will wait to see the final result before judging it. What a concept, that.

As for Amanpour, from what I saw most initial reviews thought she was just fine, if nothing spectacular, which is pretty much where I’d fall on the spectrum. It was nice to see some new blood on the program’s roundtable this week, and while part of the excuse was that George Will is on vacation, given his predictability in the seat he regularly anchors, it might be wise to rotate him out more often.

Dancing to his own drummer, Shales seized on a minor point — Amanpour’s wording introducing the “In Memoriam” segment — to accuse her of suggesting that Americans should mourn the Taliban, which, charitably, was a case of veering outside of one’s lane in order to take a swipe at somebody. Shales has earned the right to have pet peeves (and Amanpour, for whatever reason, appears to be one of them), but his was hardly a representative opinion.

If those two scarcely related events amount to a “trend” and an assault on broadcast journalism (another oxymoron, much of the time), sorry, I don’t see it. But I’ll resist the temptation to lump all editorial writers at the Boston Globe together, and just say the author of this one was ill-informed.

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