October 20, 2004
Daily question(s), #6
Today's question is a little bit of a piece with yesterday's question.
Do you think the media report responsibly on politics?
Two things got me thinking about this. First, Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire last week, where he laid into Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala for (among other things) not allowing their show to be a forum for true debate. Second, a segment of Hardball tonight, in which Chris Matthews and his panel of hacks spent, I kid you not, ten minutes discussing Teresa Heinz Kerry's flubbed speech in which she said she didn't think Laura Bush had ever worked (she has, and Heinz Kerry apologized).
I just don't see the value in this kind of "news." I refuse to believe there are really people out there who are going to suddenly change their minds about who to vote for because of something this trivial. It seems like it's always the low-hanging fruit that gets a lot of play in any news cycle, like this "story" or the whole Mary Cheney/lesbian thing. It doesn't make any sense to me, especially when things are going on that I would actually like to hear a little reporting and/or commentary on (like Condoleezza Rice being on the campaign trail when the Vice President claims that a terrorist attack is imminent).
I know this isn't a new idea. I've been cynical about news reporting -- especially political news -- for a long time. It just bothers me so much more this close to an election.
at October 20, 2004 9:24 PM
Hmm, where to begin! My idea of a good (if there can be such a thing) "screaming heads" show has traditionally been that there are two guests, one each right and left (or two of each if you're a glutton for punishment), and some kind of moderator to hold it together and "keep 'em honest", so to speak. This is, in theory what Matthews' show is supposed to be, but when the host sympathizes with one of the parties, like I see Matthews often do, it becomes a stacked deck (aka, a "panel"). Unless the guest who happens to be on the wrong side of Chris, is an aggressive badass, he/she gets stomped on. Now this is all fine/good if the show is like Hannity's/Limbaugh's, or even Al Franken's, but Harball pretends to be a "forum" venue where all sides are represented.
Crossfire used to be better about this sort of thing, but now they are a three ring political circus; at least they don't have the air of legitimate political discourse (or they shouldn't).
As for the rest of the media, I'm constantly amazed how they never question the constant lies that emenate from the Bush/Cheney "folks"...sure, they occasionally let a Democrat fire back, but how often do they do this quaint little thing called a FACT CHECK?!!! Not bloody often.
I think we can start using the phrase "the conservative media" now. They own most of the media outlets and they were overcompensating anyway to not appear "too liberal". The conservatives have won that battle...for now anyway.
One has to differentiate between journalism and infotainment. Hardball, Crossfire, et al. are simply political takes on Entertainment Tonight.
And why not? Television is the most passive of media and requires very little interaction. It appeals to a broad audience and the more down and dirty the better. This is the same mentality with reality shows and sitcoms.
Just remember, their mission is not to objectively deliver news, but to sell advertising time to Honda, Anheuser-Busch, Merrell Lynch, etc. It's all about ad revenue, and that's why so many of these cable channels are aping Fox…not because they're gravitating right, but because this pseudo-journalism means big numbers in terms of viewers. And Fox appeals to both sides of the political fence, either by placating or antagonizing depending on which side you sit.
But, hey, it's a lot less effort than picking up a newspaper.