It’s a new day in American politics. There’s a new president, a new crisis and since 2006, a new majority in Congress. As is always the case with our democracy, with every new direction there is a new opposition. The options for accessing breaking news used to be limited to the big three networks and their evening newscasts. However, viewers have declared they want more and lifted the cable news channels to an undeniable market share. How can you get your politics fix twenty-four hours a day? Satellite TV is a great way to make it happen.
Each network can point to a moment when their existence went from fragile to essential. For CNN, it was definitely the Gulf War. From “Stormin'” Norman Schwarzkopf to the Butcher of Baghdad, the personalities had a star power usually reserved for Hollywood. Throw into the mix CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer and you have iconic names only a script writer could have invented. But it was reality and since the early ’90s Blitzer has been one of the most respected anchors in the business. Viewers can watch him every day in the Situation Room, airing on CNN HD. The Situation Room is a well-balanced look at the daily news, from political pieces to reports on celebrities and the economy.
Of course, the big networks have not been left out in the cold. The NBC empire found a way to stay on top of by using cable channels to extend their reach and maintain their market share. Satellite TV subscribers can tune in to MSNBC for the latest in politics, with shows like Chris Mathews’ Hardball. Like the sound of its name, Mathews is known for his confrontational style during question-and-answer sessions with politicians. Since his attacks are usually leveled with the intention of getting straight answers — at times, impossible with politicians — Mathews has endeared himself to an audience tired of the formal, hollow interviews typical in the news industry. Like any good pitcher, Mathews doesn’t give many free passes on Hardball.
As for its sister network CNBC, now available in the high definition format, the focus is business. Featuring live reports from Wall Street and financial centers around the world, CNBC is a great way for an investor to stay abreast of the trends in an increasingly volatile market. Accused of abusing its influence and in some ways fueling the bull market which led to the economic recession, CNBC has some ground to make up when it comes to the public trust.
If you’re seeking something with a more conservative spin, the Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Channel offer the alternative to an industry considered by many to be left-leaning. You won’t find any liberals on Fox (unless in the hot seat) and you can see how the Republican party plans to fight its way back after recent defeats in national elections.
Finally, if you’ve had enough of serious politics, check out John Stewart’s Daily Show on Comedy Central. Offering a critical and often hilarious take on the news, Stewart proves that even reporting can be fun. With satellite TV, they all state their cases; you can decide for yourself.