WI DOJ Guidelines For Investigating Fatal Police Shootings, Disease Devastating Wisconsin Bats, TV Gets Political

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When the DNR recently inspected bat hibernation sites in Wisconsin, it found staggering numbers of bats had died from white-nose syndrome. An expert on the disease shares why it’s so dangerous and what a loss of bats could mean for the state. On evening television, hosts that are dealing directly with politics are seeing their ratings rise above “safer” programs. We look at the audience that’s driving the shift and ask if it’s a smart move for shows to take a political stance. Plus, we talk to a reporter about the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s first-ever guidelines on how to investigate fatal police shootings.

Featured in this Show

  • WI DOJ Issues First-Ever Guidelines On Investigating Fatal Police Shootings

    The Wisconsin Department of Justice has formalized its guidelines for investigating fatal police shootings for the first time. The new guidelines are the latest step in the state’s effort to be a national leader on the issue of police shootings. We talk to a reporter about the details of the guidelines.

  • White-Nose Syndrome Devastating Wisconsin's Bats

    The latest DNR inspection of Wisconsin’s bat hibernation sites found massive death tolls due to white-nose syndrome, a disease that’s spread to 14 counties since being discovered in the state three years ago. An expert in white-nose syndrome is with us to talk about why it’s so deadly for bats and if anything can be done to slow its spread.

  • The Rise Of Political TV

    Political TV is having a moment. Ratings for The Rachel Maddow Show, Fox News and MSNBC are spiking, while less pointed political fare, like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, are floundering. Our guest TV critic talks about why broadcast shows are up and what it says about the mindset of Americans today.

  • Thanks To Politics, Cable TV Is Booming

    Among media giants like CNN, MSNBC and Fox, ratings are booming, even as Americans continue to drop TV packages.

    “People are seeing all these sort of landmark events coming out of Washington, they’re looking for a way to process that,” Eric Deggans, TV Critic for NPR, said. “There’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of concern, there’s a lot of anger, there’s confusion.”

    In September, CNN charged up to $200,000 for a single 30-second ad spot during a political debate, 40 times its typical primetime rate. The network increased viewership 128 percent in November 2016 over November 2015.

    Fox News’s ratings are climbing, too, though not as quickly as CNN and MSNBC’s, Deggans said. He believes it may be because they have avoided spotlighting some of the recent controversy at the White House.

    “If Fox isn’t talking about it, then those viewers end up going somewhere else to find out that information,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re liberal, it means they want that information, and the source they normally turn to is maybe not talking about it.”

    The political appetite, particularly left-leaning, has even transcended into late-night television. Comedy darling Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” was edged out by Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show” after Colbert took a more political approach.

    “Part of what I think is going on there is that Fallon is not really talking about politics, and when he talks about politics, he does it in a very sort of genial, non-committal way,” Deggans said. “Colbert is channeling that. He is processing (political news) in real time for his audience.”

    Colbert has been criticized among late-night viewers for being too left-leaning. The hashtag #FireColbert went viral after he fired a controversial insult at President Donald Trump.

    Deggans said late-night comedy audiences tend to be primarily liberal. A 2015 Hollywood Reporter poll suggested that viewers for Colbert’s, Fallon’s and Jimmy Kimmel’s shows tend to be split evenly between liberal, conservative and moderate viewers — except Colbert’s, which skews liberal.

    Late night TV also tends to do well on social media when broken down into smaller, viral clips. Many millennials consume the news that way, Deggans said, but they should be cautious.

    “Don’t just take the headline at face value,” he said. “Click the link, and find out where the story came from, and that will give you a sense of maybe the motive of the platform in presenting that story to you the way they have presented it.”

    In the same way, he cautions cable news viewers to move away from the platform ever so slightly. Variety is key in news consumption, he says, and that goes way beyond cable news.

    “You can be very upset, it can unsettle you quite a bit, and it can make you feel like the times are worse than they actually are,” he said. “Be careful about watching the stuff too much, because there are so many changing stories and there are so many breaking stories. It’s seductive.”

Episode Credits

  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Kate Archer Kent Host
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • Veronica Rueckert Producer
  • Jason Stein Guest
  • David Blehert Guest
  • Eric Deggans Guest

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