Thursday’s episode of the CBS revival of “Murphy Brown” will take aim at cable news shows that pit pundits against far-right commentators who promote conspiracy theories.
In the plot, a right-wing conspiracy theorist named Ed Shannon wants to pitch his latest book on Brown’s new news and commentary show. The team employs the judgment of former “FYI” host Jim Dial, played by stage and screen actor Charles Kimbrough, who did not return for all episodes of the revival.
“The network is putting a lot of pressure on me to do an interview with Ed Shannon, who has a book coming out,” explains Brown, played by Candice Bergen. “Do I do it?”
“That’s simple, no,” Dial advises.
“We’re a new show, it could help us in the ratings,” explains executive producer Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud).
“No,” is Dial’s only reply.
“Murphy could chop him up and feed him to the dogs!” exclaims Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford).
After a chuckle, Dial says, “no” again. “Let me give it to you straight: if you put that human mudslide on the air you’re creating the perfect example of false equivalency.”
Dial was known during the 1990s for his stories of “the old days” of journalism with Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. He explained to the group that such false equivalencies are sickening the journalism of today.
“You don’t have to give equal time to someone who thinks Tom Hanks is running a shadow government,” Dial says.
The attack on cable news is similar to one comedian Jon Stewart made during a 2004 appearance on CNN’s “Crossfire.”
“Here’s what I wanted to tell you guys: Stop. Stop hurting America,” Stewart told hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson, who he called “partisan hacks.”
“You’re doing theater when you should be doing debate,” said Stewart. “What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery.”
Carlson fired back with insults about “The Daily Show,” which Stewart explained was different than their show.
“You’re on CNN. The show leading into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you?” Stewart asked.
“Crossfire” was off the air not long after.
You can watch a clip of the CBS show below, as well as another clip where Murphy Brown tells Ed Shannon not to “Giuliani her” with the line “truth is not truth.” Stewart’s appearance on “Crossfire” follows.