I have been watching the cable news channels for some years now, and have watched the professional standards being gradually tossed away away like the ballast from a balloon.
I’m not talking about journalistic standards, though volumes have (and will continue to be) written about that. I’m talking about the current need for professional anchors to suddenly behave with all the smarminess of local TV anchors, practically weeping over every sad story, and becoming giddy with joy over every heart-warming story to come down the pike.
A British journalist told The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart this a couple of years ago concerning what we get get for news:
“If I had to watch American news I’d shoot myself in the head.”
Granted, she was talking about how much news we don’t get, and the filter we get it through, but I understand her feeling. My wife can easily testify as to how many times I have literally snarled at the TV screen, “Just give us the damned news!”
Well, I pretty much have to go to BBC or CNN International for that. For the most part, there is largely little difference between local anchors and their national counterparts. Where once we have straight news readers, now we have music hall performers, showing sadness and mirth on cue, and urging us to feel the same.
We snicker when they snicker, we gasp when they gasp, and we smile with joy at the same moment that they do.
No stone is left unturned to grab at the viewer’s emotional heartstrings.
The intellect, meanwhile, is another matter altogether. Like on an ancient mariner’s chart, anchors stay away from those uncharted waters.
Here be dragons.
Eschewing the opportunity to make the viewers a smarter - even if only a little bit - CNN goes in the opposite direction, going for the least educated among us at the drop of a hat.
Did I actually hear weekend anchor Don Lemon refer to historian Cornel West - to his face - as “a big time Harvard guy”???
Just because there are ignorant people out there doesn’t mean that the people who provide the news have to ignorant, or pretend to be, in order to be on the same level as some of the viewers, in order to get more ratings.
There are anchors on MSNBC guilty of the same thing. Fox, of course, is beyond redemption.
Quote of the Day
Human reason is like a drunken man on horseback; set it up on one side, and it tumbles over on the other. - Martin Luther
Frank Serpico’s Blog
One of the early heroes of my younger days was Frank Serpico, the cop who dared to blow the whistle on corruption in the NYPD in the 1960s. A while ago my wife and I watched the great film with Al Pacino, and after it was over I Googled Serpico to see what he was up to these days. To my delight I found his blog at:
You can find his poetry (he writes poetry!) and comments about politics. It’s like Christmas come early.
Reading the title, I thought “It must be a typo; he must have meant ‘women.’”…
Thank you for writing this!
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