Ever since Newton Minow taught us sophisticates to bemoan the descent of television into a vast wasteland, the dyspeptic chorus of jeremiahs who insist that television news in particular has gone from gold to dross gets noisier and noisier. Charles Ponce de Leon says here, in effect, that this is misleading, if not simply fatuous. He argues in this well-paced, lively, readable book that TV news has changed in response to broader changes in the TV industry and American culture. It is pointless to bewail its "decline.” That’s the Way It Is gives us the very first history of American television news, spanning more than six decades, from "Camel News Caravan” to "Countdown with Keith Oberman” and "The Daily Show.” Starting in the latter 1940s, television news featured a succession of broadcasters who became household names, even presences: Eric Sevareid, Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, Peter Jennings, Brian Williams, Katie Couric, and, with cable expansion, people like Glenn Beck, Jon Stewart, and Bill O’Reilly. But behind the scenes, the parallel story is just as interesting, involving executives, producers, and journalists who were responsible for the field’s most important innovations. Included with mainstream network news programs is an engaging treatment of news magazines like 60 Minutes and 20/20, as well as morning news shows like Today and Good Morning America. Ponce de Leon gives ample attention to the establishment of cable networks (CNN, and the later competitors, Fox News and MSNBC), mixing in colorful anecdotes about the likes of Roger Ailes and Roone Arledge. Frothy features and other kinds of entertainment have been part and parcel of TV news from the start; viewer preferences have always played a role in the evolution of programming, although the disintegration of a national culture since the 1970s means that most of us no longer follow the news as a civic obligation. Throughout, Ponce de Leon places his history in a broader cultural context, emphasizing tensions between the "public service” mission of TV news and the quest for profitability and broad appeal.