Look out! He’s on the rampage! What can I do? He’s my uncle.
As usual, criticisms and complaints – directly to him.
I hate it. I watch it. I hate that I watch it. Then I watch it some more.
And I hate it.
I thought, after the election…you know, the big show is over, I’ll take a break. But the stuff keeps coming. Is it important? It is that day!
The crazy governor from Illinois. The proposed Treasury Secretary who cheated on his taxes. The Chief Justice screws up the swearing in. Biden turned down Secretary of State.
Caroline Kennedy. They interrupted to report she was withdrawing from consideration and then, later, that she staying in during the same program. These yahoos don’t care what they say. As long as it’s “Breaking News.”
I remember during the Democratic primaries. Cable news reports: “The polls project Obama a shoo-in in New Hampshire.”
Obama loses New Hampshire.
The next day, oh boy. The cable news guys are embarrassed. They’re contrite. They made a mistake. They’ll never do it again.
A week later, “The polls project Obama a shoo-in in South Carolina!”
They’re junkies! They can’t stop themselves! They swear off the stuff…and a week later, they’re doing it again!
I know it’s about ratings. Cable news is a business. It’s not the news people’s fault for inflaming sensibilities, pandering to extremists and monstrously over-hyping the stories. They’re trying to sell tickets. You can’t sell tickets to blah.
There’s a fierce competition for the news-watching audience. You do what you have to do. Even if it means undermining the credibility of your entire operation.
To accurately report on the events of the day.
I know cable news is a clown show. And I still watch. Hoping, against the accumulated evidence of my eyes and ears, that there’s a possibility I might learn something.
What the heck is the matter with me!!!
My nephew told me about this course he recently took in Political Science. Twelve three-hour classes. In the last minute of their last meeting, the teacher sums up the message of his class:
“If you want to learn, listen to all sides.”
Answer me this, will ya? When partisan advocates come on cable news shows, exaggerate the virtues of their own position, and demonize the views of the opposition, what exactly are you supposed to learn?
How to exaggerate and demonize?
You don’t learn anything!
They don’t want answers on cable news. They want mud wrestling. That’s why you rarely hear “the next question” on those shows, the question that might result in some actual understanding.
Instead, you hear this:
“Under President Bush, we haven’t had an attack on our soil for seven and a half years.”
The claim stands unchallenged. Because the calendar says it’s true. I’ve seen this a number of times, the last time, three days ago. There’s never any exploration. No “next question.”
Later, maybe in a “personal comment”, we’ll be reminded that Bush was actually president when we had a very big attack.
This second thing, I’ve never heard anyone say. “Under President Clinton, who was not known for his anti-terrorism initiatives, there were no attacks on our soil for eight years – 1993 to 2001. How do you account for that?”
Those cable news hosts aren’t stupid. They’re aware of the eight-year Clinton thing. So why don’t they follow up with “the next question”?
Because they want me to get angry. Me and the other suckers watching their stupid, infuriating show. They win when I’m engaged, yelling at my television, “Why don’t you ask that, you big Bozos!” and thinking I’m smarter than the host.
It’s like Wheel of Fortune, when you know the answer, and the contestants don’t.
“‘A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED.’ What’s the matter with you?”
My personal opinion? The news should never be a profit center. It’s too damn important.
I know news has been partly entertainment from the get-go. A newsreader wears a bowtie, he’s in show business. But there’s a line. If Edward R. Murrow came back, he’d be shocked.
“I know I had shiny hair and a cigarette. But this is ridiculous!”
Then he’d blow the lid of news-o-tainment.
“The focus of the news must always remain the news itself. Not the people who bring it to us. Not those who purport to parse its meaning, as if we had no reasoning powers of our own. We must take back the news from those who ruthlessly exploit it for commercial purposes, and return it to the serious function it was intended to perform – as a reliable reporter of what actually took place. Good night. And good luck.”
The “Murrows” of today, biting the hand that so lavishly feeds them? I wouldn’t hold my breath.
So we’ve got what we’ve got.
Somebody, please. Take away my remote.