What do you want with your morning coffee – the news – or hype?


So many choices. So little news.

The morning TV wars: GMA and Today

CBS: the redheaded stepchild

FOX - how did Elizabeth earn a place on the couch? They couldn't find a qualified journalist?

Morning Joe - talk, talk and more talk - as long as Joe gets the last word.

What is News vs Hype?

How do you take your morning coffee? Do you take cream? Sugar? How many? And do you take your morning coffee with the news or with hype? Do you know the difference?

News is what happens in the world that affects your life. Hype is what has nothing to do with you but interests you to varying degrees. Both are offered in abundance each and every morning of the week on American television. Which you prefer probably says more about you than how you take your coffee.

The first morning news program was Three to Get Ready, a Philadelphia production hosted by comedian Ernie Kovacs from 1950 until 1952. Prophetic of current morning shows, it was primarily entertainment-oriented. But, also like today’s era, the program did feature some news and weather segments. This NBC affiliate’s success prompted the network to develop a similar program for broadcast nationally. That decision was the genesis of Today.

Premiered on January 14, 1952, Today has been number one in the morning ratings for the vast majority of its 60-year run. And as night follows day, many other programs have copied their successful format.


The Big Three

CBS has been in the mix since 1954 trying to match NBC in the before-the-sun-is-up ratings war. But no random shuffling of hosts, sets, and formats ever made a dent in the NBC armor for CBS. One reason for this ineffectiveness was the children’s program, Captain Kangaroo, which occupied the second hour time slot. When that famous but audience-limited show ended in 1980, CBS burned through a series of anchors and formats, finally leaving This Morning alone long enough to develop a following. The show morphed into The Early Show in 1999, then became the new version of CBS This Morning in the beginning of 2012.

Perennially in third place of the traditional networks, the anchor team of Charlie Rose, Norah O’Donnell, and Oprah best friend Gail King, devotes more time to hard news than NBC and ABC combined. This factoid seems to verify that what viewers really want first thing in the morning is the latest tabloid headline as opposed to the latest breaking news. Still, since the threesome hit the airways in July 2012, ratings have gone up.

Charlie Rose comes from Public Broadcasting and the experience of nightly hosting the world's best thinkers, writers, politicians, athletes, entertainers, business leaders, scientists and other newsmakers. Norah O’Donnell is a former chief White House correspondent who is familiar with the political stars of today. She is the primary substitute anchor for the programs Face the Nation and CBS Evening News.

If you don’t get cable TV, and you want more news the first thing in the a.m., CBS is where you want to tune in each morning. But according to the ratings, most of us do not.

ABC got in the game in 1975 and since 2012 has occasionally surpassed Today in the ratings. The initial idea for the show was to fashion it after a local Cleveland program called The Morning Exchange. It ran instead of the ABC morning show in the Cleveland market. News and weather were featured at the beginning and middle of each hour. The rest of the air time was devoted to features. Even the set had a more casual look of a living room rather than the typical network news room setting. The pilot was an immediate hit with David Hartman and Nancy Dussault as the soft-spoken co-hosts. It became so popular even the mighty Today Show borrowed from the new format. It’s taken a decade or two, but GMA, as insiders call it, has recently started to take over the top spot in the ratings, and in August 2013 it celebrated 52 consecutive weeks as the top-rated network morning news program.

It's Known as 'shooting Bambi.'

Changes in personnel on these programs are carried off with nothing short of high drama. All the way back to Jane Pauley filling Barbara Walter’s shoes in 1976, career advancements or reversals have played out on live air with the plot twists and backstabbing of current reality shows. Viewers have recently witnessed the ousting of Ann Curry on Today and the arrival of talk show host Elizabeth Hasselbeck on Fox and Friends, replacing a former Miss America but one with a bonefide news resume. It seems having years of experience in journalism neither grants a host job security as in Curry’s situation, nor prohibits a network from hiring a popular personality with no journalism credentials at all as in Hasselbeck’s.

Ann Curry says 'Goodbye'


Looking for Objectivity? Look Elsewhere.

Fox & Friends on the Fox News Channel, and CNN’s Early Start and New Day follow the networks' morning show format. Though whatever made the brass at Fox think a reality star could pass for a journalist is beyond my ability to understand. She has recently announced her resignation as of the end of December 2015. It may have followed her debacle interviewing presidential candidates in recent weeks. You really can't blame her for her failure. Fox is once again to blame for its limitless misunderstanding of how you cover the news. There are basic principles to be followed for proven reasons.

MSNBC's Morning Joe follows more of a talk radio style of programming. Shamelessly partisan, the hosts are former republican Congressman Joe Scarborough playing Devil’s Advocate to self-proclaimed democrat Mika Brezenski (and vice versa).

While GMA is known for committing numerous segments to such entertainment news as the most recent cast-offs from its own network’s Dancing With The Stars, and Today makes room on its couch for the parents of the country’s latest missing children, Brezezinski has been known to refuse to read her own producers’ news copy. She once attempted to light a script on fire instead of reading a report on the recent release from jail of Paris Hilton. Brzezinski received large quantities of fan mail supporting her on-air protest against leading with entertainment news instead of hard news. As a result,eventually a segment was christened “News You Can’t Use” that became a regular feature of the program.

Morning Joe has been known to devote hours, not minutes, to breaking issues of the day. They don't just read the news or interview news makers. The hosts lead (often dominate) a discussion of the news with a panel of invited guests, usually correspondents or commentators who make their living delving into the details of politics. The show is more a study of the news than simply the reporting of the news.

Needless to say, in the ratings Morning Joe regularly comes in dead last, only occasionally coming close to CNN’s American Morning, another bottom of the pile regular that spends more time on news than entertainment. As of April 2013, Morning Joe was the lowest rated of the big three cable news morning shows in both total viewers and the younger demographic.

The Internet, tablets, and cellphones with limitless data have certainly changed the delivery of news in today's America. By the time the average person turns on the TV in the morning they may well have already seen the news headlines that have occurred overnight. A little levity might be just what they are looking for with that first cup of coffee. Nothing wrong with that. The important factor is whether or not the average American can tell the difference between news and hype, and the difference between a reporter and a personality.

So, what do you take with your morning coffee?

Have your say:

Which morning show is your choice?

  • Today
  • Good Morning America
  • Fox and Friends
  • Morning Joe
  • CNN
See results without voting

Comments 27 comments

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I seem to have worked long and hard on a hub that no one feels strongly about. I've gotten a fair few views, but no comments. No one has another opinion? Is anyone awake out there?

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 2 years ago from Western NC

LOL, Kathleen, your comment up there prompted me to take a look - though with teaching and grad school, I'm not on HP as much as I used to be. :P

In any case, my husby LOVES Morning Joe. Me? I prefer the Today Show for the news and inspirational stories. The later part of all the three main morning shows gets too fluffly - I'm not into those concerts or other mind-numbing things they do, haha. But then again, I'm weird: I don't drink coffee - I'm a tea drinker myself. :) Nice write-up. Shared.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

I'm probably weird, too, as Cyndi says. LOL. I'm not a morning person, so I don't want to hear the TV in the morning. I just want my coffee. I'll turn on the radio just to hear the weather. That's all I need. If the station plays some easy listening music, that's fine, too. My brain can't take the news in the morning. And some of the newscasters in the morning are just too perky. I don't want ANY chatter in the a.m. Nice, very informative hub, though. :-)

Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 2 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

Right now I don't have a tv, so I barely watch the news. But when I did, I watched local news, usually Fox Ct. It's more news than "fluff" for the first part, and then it turns into more hype. I usually turn it off before it comes to that point, and before they repeat the same news again.

I have to admit, I also don't always keep it on the same channel. With so many news channels, it is easy to browse when one channel gets too boring.

Thanks for working so hard on this hub, and for sharing this information with us. I like that you're seeking input.

Voted up and sharing here and on Facebook.

Have a great day!

~ Kathryn

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Well, ladies, I hit the Mother Lode with the three of you! Thanks. Love the comment that some folks are "too perky" in the morning. How I agree. My brain wakes up more slowly.

Cclitgirl: My husband and I part ways when it come to the morning show as well. He likes Robin Meade on CNN for obvious reasons if you've ever seen a former Miss Ohio read the news. I like Morning Joe for the discussion of the news. I like to hearing opposing views, but sometimes those personalities are too much first thing in the morning.

Working AND Grad School - my hat is off to you. Thanks for a bit of your time!

J - R - Fr13m9n profile image

J - R - Fr13m9n 2 years ago from Morris County, New Jersey

The question is: Do we find the morning news programs newsworthy or entertaining? My answer is this: Entertainment is the dominant tone. Corporate owned news is highly censored. What does not sit well with their viewpoint is either edited and not shown at all. Alternate news, according to my opinion, is more thorough and informative than what is on television and that includes PBS. You may want to view DEMOCRACY NOW with Amy Goodwin. Ms. Goodwin received her start on the listener sponsored WBAI 99.5fm, which is part of Pacifica. The internet features Progress Radio along with publications such as TRUTHOUT, THE GUARDIAN, etc.

There are those who seek out the whole truth and research to back it up.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

J-R-Fri3m9n: You've listed some great options. It's a shame they don't draw bigger audiences and are not more well-known. There is nothing wrong with entertainment in the morning if that is the most popular option. For those who want more news-based information, it does require some considerable seeking and research. Thanks for commenting.

J - R - Fr13m9n profile image

J - R - Fr13m9n 2 years ago from Morris County, New Jersey

I made some errors when writing my previous comment. It is Amy Goodman of DEMOCRACY NOW. PROGRESSIVE RADIO NETWORK is on the internet. WBAI 99.5fm, which is part of Pacifica is listener sponsored radio and is not funded with corporate funded dollars. I'm not against entertainment and I know that WBAI broadcasts programs featuring that.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

I have been disappointed in the morning shows as they have become more entertainment oriented over the years. I was saddened to see how Jane Pauley and Ann Curry were treated and the back stabbing as I admired them both as journalists first. I haven't watched Today since Ann Curry left. We don't take much seriously in this world today. Great article and I enjoyed reading this.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

suzettenaples: Glad you liked this one. The shift to more entertainment continues, which is fine as long as viewers know the difference. When they take 20 minutes reviewing who got voted off a reality show, you need to ask yourself, what could I be learning instead?

alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

We've got one national broadcasting service we call 'Auntie'. The BBC used to be more patronising but found they couldn't get away with it 'on the never' because their funds come from the public purse - until recently non-payment of the license fee was punishable by heavy fines, imprisonment or both - and have been accused by different political parties as 'pandering', mostly to the left these days. They have a raft of TV and radio programmes over six channels between popular entertainment, sport, documentaries and news. Two channels cater entirely for 'newshounds', one being televised parliamentary proceedings. I've watched about five minutes of it before switching over!

There's a large variety of TV that's paid for through advertising and subscription (Uncle Rupe's got a whole pageful of his channels under the Sky banner, some - not a lot - of which is freeview, including a mixed news and sport pitch). Some channels don't have news at all. A lot of Brits get turned off by incessant news and sport, would sooner watch soaps or documentaries all day and get their news from reading tabloids. Then there's the crowd that brags, 'Oh, I've got a television, never watch it though, it's too plebby!' They buy the Times or the Telegraph - even the Independent - and bury themselves in the Sunday editions.

Funny b***ers, aren't we, us Brits.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

alancaster149: I'm so grateful to have you as one of my followers (and vice versa). Another point of view from a different spot on the planet is so interesting. Y'all are "funny b***ers, but I have no idea what that is!

"A lot of Brits get turned off by incessant news and sport, would sooner watch soaps or documentaries all day and get their news from reading tabloids. Then there's the crowd that brags, 'Oh, I've got a television, never watch it though, it's too plebby!' They buy the Times or the Telegraph - even the Independent - and bury themselves in the Sunday editions." We've got the same folks in the U.S. - but what's "plebby"?

alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

'Plebby' is plebeian = common.

B***ers rhymes with luggers.

A little ode to illustrate:

'You can be as smug

as a bug

in a rug,

But nothing could be smugger

Than a b***er playing rugger'.

(Rugger is the plebs' word for Rugby, i.e Rugby Football, that originated at Rugby School when one of the players picked up the ball and ran with it, a predecessor of American Football, would'n'cha know. A one liner comes in use: 'Rugby's a game played by men with funny shaped balls').

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thus endeth the lesson (!) Thanks. I should have known Plebby. My husband went to the US Military Academy, and freshmen were known as "Plebes" - makes sense. I remember guys in college who played Rugby, an unknown sport to most of us in the South in the 70's. They had t-shirts that said, "It tales leather balls to play Rugby." You had to be impressed!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Excellent essay delineating the difference between news and entertainment. Like you. I don't dislike entertainment, but it should not be confused with or substituted, for real news, for substantive journalism. Great Hub. Sharing.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks T! Your student just posted a lengthy commentary on this subject on FB. It was excellent. Wish we could get him on HP!

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

I think you've made some great observations Kathleen. Certainly we get our news with a bit of bias no matter where we get it from. Naturally the show that garners the most money is the one that stays around the longest.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

tillsontitan: Your comments always add much to the conversation. Thanks for chiming in on this hub. Somebody said it best: when the government set aside the airways for public information, they should have made it free of advertising.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 21 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

This is a very interesting and useful hub for me since I have lived outside of the United States for more than 11 years. I have always preferred news to hype and I get most of my news from the Internet now and some foreign sources like BBC. I am sharing this with my HP followers.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 21 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

It is interesting to view America's news coverage from somewhere outside the US. I remember the presidential campaign in 1992, watching TV with no commercials, and just learning about the race from interviews with the candidates. I think that's how we should elect all politicians. Thanks for commenting and sharing!

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 19 months ago from Dallas, Texas

The morning news shows seem to be a rehash of the evening news to me. For a time, I watched the Today show for the first hour then turned it off when it came to the fluff interviews and hype. On our evening news, it seems to have turned into short blurbs with weather interjected every five minutes. Since when is the weather news? Unless it's a disaster or oncoming storm. I have little interest in who is winning on "The Voice". Is that news or entertainment? From what I read, most people prefer to be out of touch with the current events they find too depressing.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 19 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

You make some good observations. News is definitely not what it used to be. More than anything else, newspersons don't seem to understand that they are not the story. Thanks for reading and commenting.

JPac1 profile image

JPac1 19 months ago from Columbia, Missouri

I question your definition of news, as I often find interesting important news stories that don't necessarily impact me personally (though they certainly pertain to something that very well could). I'm a BIG proponent of international news. While many of those stories won't make a big difference in my life at face, the issues of the entire would certainly have the potential to impact me.

Hype can be anything blown out of proportion to raise interest level, and make something more entertaining than informative and educational. Fear-factor stories (like the "Rossen Reports" segment on TODAY, are certainly all hype.

I'm a CTM fan. Their ratings are climbing faster than anyone in the morning news game, and they have what true newsers want... mostly. TODAY is more like GMA than it's been in decades, sadly. They've lost a lot of news cred, especially given what they include in the first 30 minutes of their show these days. Ann's departure from TODAY was a long-time coming. She was great as news reader, but you can only skip over somebody for the co-anchor chair so many times. Her chemistry with Matt and ability to flip from one thing to another on a dime just wasn't where it needed to be for a network morning anchor.

I wonder what you're watching as of late? CTM? Morning Joe?

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 19 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Why do I not recognize CTM? Is it Canadian as my Google search suggests?

You have an impressive resume - much more so than my weekly newspaper experience. Did you go to the U of M Journalism School?

I'd be interested in a definition of news v hype from your point of view and experience.

I'm more familiar with the BBC. The day of the search for the Boston Marathon bomber I was driving from Atlanta to Richmond, switching from network to network on my radio. The BBC did head and shoulders above the work of CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. They were out in the streets interviewing witnesses while the others filled air time with experts spouting opinions.

I like to see the point of view of someone outside the US covering US breaking news.

I think NBC's mistake on Today was setting up the tradition of working your way into an anchor position. Reading the news and being an interviewer are different skill sets.

JPac1 profile image

JPac1 19 months ago from Columbia, Missouri

Sorry for the confusion - CTM, shorthand for "CBS This Morning" - should've clarified.

The perfect example of "news" that's been hyped up to be more akin to entertainment is MOST of CNN's airtime. I say MOST because I think they still have some quality content. Anthony Bourdain has an excellent show. Anderson Cooper does a wonderful job getting to the bottom of issues (and I personally think he deserves much better than CNN). But most of what CNN reports is catchy, dramatic, and overblown, overdone crap.

BBC has always been great at reporting context, telling stories without implying a call to action or flaring emotions. I love BBC. I think CBS News is the most sound, highest quality reporting on the network level. 60 Minutes, CBS Evening News, and CTM all evidence of that.

Here's a wonderful example of how breaking news should be covered, and how it is often screwed up by the nature of CNN-like coverage:

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 19 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I love the CBS morning show. Two of their three anchors are experienced reporters - that's a good percentage. I usually watch it and DVR Morning Joe so I can fast forward through Joe's meltdowns. I enjoy the discussion between people who don't pretend to be journalists.

JPac1 profile image

JPac1 19 months ago from Columbia, Missouri

"Joe's meltdowns" - I love it. I also enjoy both shows. CBS for, as they say, "Original Reporting", Morning Joe for frank, intelligent discussion.

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    Kathleen Cochran527 Followers
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    Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

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