06 May 2010

If Cable News Shows Treated Their Viewers Like Drug Dealers Treated Their Customers...

My buddy called me yesterday on his way home, which kind of put me in a bad mood immediately, since he sees this commute as time to kill, while I see time as an ever-ticking clock that is always threatening to close in on a deadline I have somewhere.

So I wasn't really paying attention when he first started talking, because I was gathering some quotes for a piece I was supposed to be submitting somewhere in a couple of hours. Maybe its the writer in me, or maybe its the fact that when I am thinking, which is most of the time, I am usually juggling ten or fifteen ideas about something important to the way we live in my mind, a state of intense pleasure to me that gets me testy as hell when it is interrupted by a comment about the weather, or some other totally meaningless minutia of life, minutia that my buddy insisted on talking about.

It wasn't until he casually asked my opinion about the speed with which law enforcement had apprehended the Times Square bomb scare suspect that became fully engaged in the conversation. In fact, I became more than fully engaged - it was a ten minute rant, a verbal beatdown of everybody from Campbell Brown to Anderson Cooper, from Fox News to Rush Limbaugh, from Wall Street to the White House that probably had my buddy wishing he had called somebody else instead.

But he hung in there long enough to understand why most of the time the enemy isn't the left or the right or the center or even the wacko fringe elements of our political universe here in America, but the brain dead and insufferable media who do a woeful job of shaping the political conversation.

I watched Anderson Cooper interview the mayor of Nashville last night, after apologizing for CNN and the rest of the media who seemed to be totally hypnotized by the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to the exclusion of practically all other newsworthy items. Which would have been fine if they didn't waste half of their airtime getting "reactions" from idiots, or politicians who pontificated forthrightly about a situation their non-engineering, non-oceanic expert asses knew absolutely nothing about.

Or if they had quit regurgitating British Petroleum press releases and did some god damn research on their own, research which would have confirmed the suspicions any high school physics student would have about the absurd estimate that pegged the rate of leakage at "5,000 barrels a day."

Maybe the journalism schools need to shut down, or at least rethink what they allow to be called "journalism", so we have a better handle on what is news, and what is fluff and PR.

Journalists - when your interview subjects start telling bald faced lies on camera, or begin to dissemble so badly they might as well be telling bald faced lies, the kind of untruths your pre-interview research can refute unequivocally, pull the plug on them and throw up a PowerPoint instead that gives us the salient facts and their sources, so we can verify them.

Talking point TV, CNN, is why you are going to have your anchors all trading around one shirt and tie between them soon, and going on air without makeup, in order to make payroll. Talking point TV, Fox News, is why Rupert Murdoch will be rolling up to the Goldman Sachs offices to get his company one of those sweet financing deals that Greece got so Glen Beck can hawk "subprime television derivatives" during all those stretches of empty commercial breaks he's got.

Heroin dealers treat their customers better than TV news shows treat their viewers.

I told my buddy, after I had calmed down a little, and he finally was willing to acknowledge that contrary to the media slant, our law enforcement agencies had done the job we asked them to do, providing enough layers of deterrence and surveillance to catch the suspect in record time, that what we have right now in our country is akin to kindergartners telling us what is going on.

But back to this drug dealer analogy - I am hooked on facts like a crack head is addicted to crack. I would make time for a rat-a-tat tat machine gun style delivery of a lead topic and three sentences, no emotional nuances required, the announcer taking a breath during commercial breaks.

I would like to see some Powerpoint style info flashing up with each topic, with five to seven bullet points to augment the three lines the announcer is reading, and two or three sources listed below them so I could dig deeper if I wanted.

And put the pathos and the dead baby pictures on another channel, for those who need to get a good cry in before dinner.

Do you think people who buy crack or heroin or cocaine choose their dealer because of his or her talking points? Because of a favorable "reaction" from someone who doesn't even do drugs? Or because the drug dealer swears "this is the real deal?"


They choose the dealer who gets them the best dope out there. The dope has been cut the least. The dope that packs the biggest punch.

So cable news networks, quit screwing around and start sling the best facts out there. Start giving the facts up to us raw and uncut, instead of the Similac smelling shit you are peddling now.

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