TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Well, hello there! Welcome once again to your weekly liveblog of the Sunday Morning political prattlefests! My name is Jason, and once again, I am away from my desk, overseas on vacation. How are the debt ceiling negotiations working out? Aren't you glad/dismayed/cynical about/ready to throatpunch somebody in Congress about the way it worked out/hasn't worked out/will never work out/everything in the economy is now collapsed in a heap and we're now all cooking stickmeat over open flames in the bombed out subprime housing subdivisions that now form the venue of our new lives as destitute squatters? I know I am/am not!
Last week, we kept things light and escapist, in keeping with the theme of summertime. But now that my time in the United Kingdom is over (and what bad timing to show up here after wiretapping everybody and calling it "journalism" is now frowned upon!), it's once again time to seriously contemplate why these shows don't make much of an effort to actually "cover" the "news" that affects the "lives" of "ordinary human Americans."
Let me commend you to the recent work of Mother Jones ace reporter-slash-superhero Mac McClelland. (And also her wonderful book about Burma!) She has, for the past month, been reporting from her home state of Ohio -- which is in many ways a "ground zero" of the economic crisis. She's been documenting the lives and travails of ordinary people in a way that your influential Sunday news programs never attempt, because they are all produced by people who think it's more important to have access to rich and influential people engaged solely in the act of winning re-election with the assistance of lobbyists, than it is to have access, or even a few stray thoughts about, poor people.
McClelland's recent trip to a massive warehouse where an online company ships cheap merchandize from overseas to homes hither and yon was as suitable a depressing picture of the reality of modern life as you are likely to read. There, perma-temps perform repetitive motions for scraps and the hope that they might get to spend a few minutes each day in air conditioning.
"Somebody did studies and spreadsheets and crunched those numbers," he said, "and figured out that the cheapest way to get that job done is to treat people like that." Which is important, he explained, because "the profit margins on those contracts are razor thin."
[Your regular Sunday morning liveblog returns on 7/31, so, cheer up, I guess?]