Cranston: You Should Look at All News ‘With a Little Bit of Skepticism’ Because It’s ‘Prudent’

Actor Bryan Cranston joined Friday’s CBS This Morning to promote his leading role as the Howard Beale in the legendary movie-turned-play Network and offered some astute, unbiased observations about the need to take in a variety of news sources, recognizing that news producers make judgment calls (often using their own biases) on “what’s news,” and the industry’s commercialization.

When the interview pivoted to the play itself, co-host Tony Dokoupil asked: “The original film Network, famous critique of television news in the ‘70s. Fast forward to today, what's the relevancy of the message now in the adaptation?”

 

 

Cranston replied that he grew up watching the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite “always believ[ing] that I was listening to was just pure news, and I believe it still was, but there were decisions being made by producers back then as there are now,” such as the reality how, for example “you have 25 stories, [but] we can only get to 12.”

“Who makes that decision of what you're not going to say? Who decides what's news and what's the important news and you hope that it's altruistic in that decision-making, but sometimes an ideology does, well, ‘I believe this is true, so this is what we're going the say,’” he added.

Co-host Gayle King followed up by wondering if he views the industry “differently after doing this role” and Cranston offered a surprisingly sober conclusion. While he could have (and probably meant to) alluded to Fox News as the bain of all existence, he didn’t explicitly:

I think — I think you could look at it with a little bit of skepticism and I think that’s prudish, you know, prudent, actually, to say that and I think the point of Network is not to — to put yourself in any tribalistic, ideological camp to allow yourself to open up, to receive ideas from all different sources and make up your own mind. 

What would have been nice if the CBS crew could have asked him for examples and see if he would have gone after Fox News, but alas that didn’t happen.

At the end of the interview, Dokoupil inquired what Cranston believes to be the problem with the media today and whether it’s “still” “television...as Network has as its thesis or is it now social media?”

Cranston surprisingly didn’t blame social media, maintaining that TV reporters should be focused on “put[ting] forward honest, good journalism” even though “[e]veryone is under pressure of ratings....and making money.”

That said, Cranston expressed concern that “sometimes, you'll see programs that is all about promoting that night's shows and things. It’s like, well, “is this news or are we just a promotional vehicle for something else?”

“Speaking of making money, we've got to make some. Bryan Cranston, thank you very much for being here,” co-host Anthony Mason joked as he brought the interview to a close.

To see the relevant transcript from May 24's CBS This Morning, click “expand.”

CBS This Morning
May 24, 2019
8:36 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Powerhouse Performer; Bryan Cranston on Role in the Broadway Show “Network” & Career]

TONY DOKOUPIL: The original film Network, famous critique of television news in the ‘70s. Fast forward to today, what's the relevancy of the message now in the adaptation?

BRYAN CRANSTON: Well, when I was a kid growing up and watching Walter Cronkite, I — I always believed that I was listening to was just pure news, and I believe it still was, but there were decisions being made by producers back then as there are now. 

ANTHONY MASON: Yeah.

CRANSTON: You have 25 stories, we can only get to 12. Who makes that decision of what you're not going to say? 

DOKOUPIL: Who decides what's news?

CRANSTON: Who decides what's news and what's the important news —

GAYLE KING: Yeah.

DOKOUPIL: — and you hope that it's altruistic in that decision-making, but sometimes an ideology does, well, “I believe this is true, so this is what we're going the say.”

KING: Do you look at the news differently after doing this role? 

CRANSTON: I think — I think you could look at it with a little bit of skepticism and I — I think that’s prudish, you know, prudent, actually, to say that and I think the point of Network is not to — to put yourself in any tribalistic, ideological camp 

MASON: Yes.

CRANSTON: — to allow yourself to open up, to receive ideas from all different sources and make up your own mind. 

(....)

8:38 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The Many Roles of Bryan Cranston; Award-Winning Actor on Broadway Show “Network” and Career]

KING: The staging, too, Bryan is so well done. 

DOKOUPIL: Really creative.

KING: Yeah, the technology that’s incorporated, the way they do the control room in the newsroom

MASON: A lot of it’s actually tele — basically televised in the room. 

CRANSTON: Yes, yeah. It's really appropriate to — to have all the multimedia that you see in the show because it is television. 

DOKOUPIL: Now, there was one thing we were talking in the green room, which is what's the problem with media? Is it television still as Network has as its thesis or is it now social media? 

CRANSTON: I think what — I don't think that — that today's television media can be absolved of the responsibility of being able to — to put forward honest, good journalism. Everyone is under pressure of ratings. 

MASON: Yeah.

CRANSTON: Ratings and making money. 

KING: Yeah. 

CRANSTON: And sometimes, you'll see programs that is all about promoting that night's shows and things. It’s like, well, “is this news or are we just a promotional vehicle for something else?”

MASON: Speaking of making money, we've got to make some. Bryan Cranston, thank you very much for being here.

DOKOUPIL: Watch Network!

NB Daily Media Bias Debate CBS CBS This Morning Celebrities Gayle King Tony Dokoupil Anthony Mason
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