Any liberal who has blamed the terrible quality of cable news discourse on its domination by conservatives should be reading Bob Somerby's most recent series of articles on the vapidity of Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show, which has become attracted a great deal of attention from liberal elites and media types. The inescapable conclusion of reading Somerby is that the problem with cable news is structural, not ideological. The only way for a pundit to assemble a large enough audience to succeed in prime time is to pander to their audience's ideological sensibilities and to dumb down their content to the lowest common denominator. The sad outcome of this process is that Maddow -- a former Rhodes scholar -- is distorting her own previous statements to make Republicans look bad and devoting long periods of airtime to a running joke about Republican "tea-bagging." (Keith Olbermann's show operates at a similar level.) I'm sure liberals tell themselves that she's still better than Hannity, O'Reilly, et al. but that's a pretty low bar.
Update 4/13 2:21 PM: David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo repeats the "teabag" meme from Maddow. Stay classy!
Update 4/13 11:07 PM: Matthew Yglesias offers some thoughts.