Honest to God, when I heard Sinead O’Connor and the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue were going to “debate” the church sex scandal story on Larry King Live last night, I just thought “shoot me now.”
Really, CNN? No wonder your ratings are tanking. I mean, clearly no one wanted to have a serious discussion of clergy abuse or you wouldn’t have booked a former pop singer famous for ripping a picture of the Pope on “Saturday Night Live” and a right-wing crackpot so far off the reservation that an entire episode of “South Park” was devoted to him.
CNN’s recent decision to hire another right wing crank, Eric Erickson, has launched a “Dump CNN” campaign. Erickson famously called Justice David Souter “a goat fucking child molester,” which tells me he’s not very serious either. I mean cripes, I say offensive, salty things on my blog all the time. CNN still hasn’t called.
Recently I got into a heated discussion with a notable local broadcaster who was offended by my assertion that the news media is a key part of the problem in this country. This broadcaster said I sounded “bitter,” and told me if I wanted to keep bashing their industry I should talk to someone else because they were tired of being polite to me.
What prompted this exchange was my complaint that their news station showed up with full camera crew at Legislative Plaza to film three--count ‘em--Tea Party protesters at 6 am. They looked like idiots with a full camera crew showing up for an “event” that hadn’t even begun. There simply was no story, at least not yet. Meanwhile, over 100 people showed up at Bart Gordon’s office the previous day to thank him for his healthcare vote. Naturally, there was no camera crew there. When I asked this broadcaster why one non-event was covered while an actual news event was ignored he said it was because the Gordon rally was “AFTER the fact. That's how we do things in the news .... preview an upcoming gathering.”
Oh. Well I guess it’s not really news then. I mean, you could have shown up before the Gordon rally and “previewed” that. Seriously, does this make sense to anyone?
You know what our news media used to do?
You know what our news media no longer does?
Our media is lazy. Locally, nationally, it doesn't matter. They turn the cameras on the crazies and just hit the play button as people go at it. There is no real information in this type of coverage, just a pass-the-popcorn style fireworks show. And without any real content, without a sharing of real information, the country stays divided.
I guess if your idea of information is to say “there will be a rally here today,” then talking to three people setting up chairs and tables makes sense. But that’s not the story. The story is that some people showed up pissed off about a piece of legislation they didn’t like. The story would have been to ask people what they don’t like about it, what are they afraid of, what do they hope to do about it. Which would have begged some more in-depth conversation, for example when someone says “I don’t like this law because it’s Socialism,” then that would require someone to say, “how do you figure, when it basically requires people to buy private, for-profit health insurance from the same companies you’re doing business with now?” That requires a little more effort.
The lazy way to do it is to put a bunch of cranks on the air and have them yammer at each other. Sinead O’Connor and Bill Donohue talking about Catholic clergy abuse is very lazy. It doesn’t foster serious debate, it doesn’t involve any in-depth discussion about the issue, it doesn’t inform anyone of facts.
And yes, Nashville Broadcast Personality, this lack of informative discussion is hurting America. It's keeping people ignorant, uninformed, and divided.
Am I bitter about that? You betcha. And you should be, too.