I cant see any thoughtful, let alone mildly cynical person having much good to say about 98% of TV news. My feeling is, since I can't trust what is fed me thru these sources, I wont watch at all. However, I agree that C-Span does a great job of covering a vast amount of political goings-on, and I'm often glued to the Book Channel all weekend.
Even so, I can't ever remember seing someone like Noam Chomsky, for instance, on C-Span. Granted, I am NOT glued to the politial stuff, but I check in about as often as I listen to NPR. And I've been lucky enough to catch Chomsky on that a number of times. (And even NPR is no longer very public.)
I don't know about the good old days. To my shame I've never been very interested in politics and it's only been in recent years that I've tried to educate myself by exploring, outside US media, what is going on in the world. But I have to agree with Amos...at least Morrow and Cronkite *looked* creditable. The talking heads of today look like superficial puppets...and they sound even worse. (Tim Robbins did a wonderful send-up of them in his movie Bob Roberts.) Even Dan Rather has admitted that he cannot air stories like the deliberate official ignoring of pre-9/11 input, warning of probability of attack, without putting his neck in a noose.
In the face of the vast array of infotainment type news coverage from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, etc., packaged w/pazzazz and instant accessability, I think it's fair to say that TV fails us badly, despite the (often tedious) senate hearings, etc. that are broadcast on C-Span. Newspapers and magazines may not be a lot better, but I think they have less emotional impact than the "slice of life" reality of TV, even if one suspects it may be counterfit.