News You Can't Use
Before we begin delving into the merits and demerits of the approximately 374 new and existing cable TV "news" networks--in particular the old man of the cable box, CNN, and the two upstarts, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel--let me disclose my biases.
The first bias is one that favors the news-gathering approach of the C-SPAN network, which won me over when it broadcast a half-hour holiday special consisting entirely of a guy walking through the Capitol with a camera filming the Christmastime decorations in the offices of various congressmen. It even had a voice-over if I remember correctly--a retiring, understated announcer who said things like, "And here we see Representative Maxine Waters' Hanukkah bush, adorning the anteroom of her Longworth Building office." Or maybe that was just the voice-over in my head.