The vast majority of television news is uninformative at best and propagandistic at worst. Such is the nature of a press that, while “free,” nonetheless exhibits all the hallmarks of wholly owned subsidiaries of large corporations that thrive on the status quo. The result is a narrow spectrum of opinion embodied by a faux liberal-conservative paradigm that rarely allows entry of “fringe” views. Despite the appearance of great conflict, the sentiments expressed generally do not threaten to upend business as usual. There are exceptions of course, and the following shows have demonstrated a constant willingness to delve into issues that most programs pay little attention to or downright shun.
The Dylan Ratigan Show (MSNBC, M-F, 4-5pm EST)
Ratigan has taken up the cause of purging money from politics. It will be a tough, if not futile battle, but he regularly has this much needed conversation on his show. Treading the line between pundit and activist, Ratigan has, with the help of a few regular guests, sought to draft a constitutional amendment that would, if ratified, accomplish this elusive goal. In addition, Ratigan — a former CNBC anchor — has frequently highlighted the fundamental problems with the American financial system, and the role played by the Federal Reserve in enabling reckless behavior on Wall Street.
Moyers & Company (PBS, Check your local listings)
Bill Moyers is back on television and that’s a win for real news. In an age where interchangeable pundits blather vapidly about the rhetorical efficacy of political speeches or the latest polling data, Moyers has always sought to provide his viewers with a greater understanding of real issues by exploring them to a degree unimaginable on other stations. His classic PBS documentary, Secret Government, exemplifies the kind of work he does, which he continues to this day.
The Keiser Report (Russia Today, T, Th, Sat, available online)
With co-host Stacy Herbert, Max Keiser — the vivacious former Wall Street trader — offers his entertaining and insightful perspective on current financial news and explains how Wall Street really works. Frequently targeting the largest Wall Street banks and the Federal Reserve, Keiser’s guest list is eclectic: Matt Taibbi, Peter Schiff, Jim Rickards, Steve Keen, Barry Ritholtz, and James Howard Kuntsler, just to name a few. If you don’t know who these people are, you’re watching the wrong news.
Freedom Watch with Judge Andrew Napolitano (Fox Business Network, M-F, 8-9pm EST)
Even if you’re like me and don’t ascribe to Austrian Economics, there’s plenty of information and insight here about war-mongering in Washington and government encroachments on civil liberties to make it worth your while. This exchange between Napolitano and Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul is one of my favorite segments, as it deals with the growing imperial presidency.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central, M-TH,11pm-11:30pm EST)
Don’t roll your eyes. The Daily Show is at its best when Stewart lambastes the mainstream media (especially CNN) for being frivolous and abdicating its responsibility to inform the public, rather than merely act as an amplifier for the dubious claims of people in power. Plus it’s hilarious.
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