With a distressed eyeroll at Seanglenn Beckhannity, and a weary headshake at Keithrachel Olbermaddowman, not to mention clenched fists of despair at TalkRadio VonHateScream, let me remind the rest of us -- aka. most people -- that just because the makers of so called News think Balanced and Thoughtful is some long-ago folk duo, it doesn't mean we should join in the sneerfest, and passively watch as standards continue to plummet.
When President Obama is called everything from Gandalf the Wizard or NaziMuslimTerrorGuy it remains every engaged citizens' duty to firmly say, "No he's not!", and to perhaps aim a little humorous scorn at anyone who'd believe such twaddle. But much as I love John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and their colleagues, it strikes me as downright surreal that they, and not the 'real' Anchorpersons and Commentators, seem to be the only people on TV who actively adhere to concepts like fairness, primary sources and....facts. They're comedians for god's sake!! It's not their job to keep journalism from becoming.. a joke! Yet, again and again Stewart and Colbert, while being consistently hilarious, are the only frequently watched TV talkers that 1. bother to put current events into historical context, 2. examine bizarre claims for the few shreds of truth they might contain, and 3. confront their guests with questions that aren't solely intended to add to the noise.
Ironic is too mild a word for the fact that, with rare exceptions, the only professionals on TV who seem to want, in Walter Cronkite's words, "to protect the news.", are the ones using it to get laughs!
It does take courage to confront and lampoon our disgraceful national shouting match, but I think Messrs Stewart, and Colbert would heartily agree that when a handful of comedians are the closest we've got to Uncle Walter, we're in deep s****.
Americans have always had a stand-offish relationship with facts, especially if they run contrary to our ideals, or expose our prejudices. We're equally uncomfortable with censorship, however because after all freedom of speech, and the public's right to know, are foundations of a free society, etc, etc; Which is precisely why Walter Cronkite became so trusted, and ultimately influential. Because we believed the stories he told us. He was a reliable reporter. He protected the news. His opinions carried weight precisely because he expressed them so rarely.
Ted Turner's brilliant gamble of putting news on the air 24/7, was supposed to continue that tradition, but it has failed, with the unintended and lamentable consequence of making us less well informed, and more agitated. Why? Because it turns out that some of the public trust stories told by charlatans, self promoting dweebs, and unstable rageaholics, no matter how fact-free they turn out to be. Could our chronically neglected public education system have something to do with this? Is Talk Radio and Rant TV merely a symptom of a society which seems more and more willing to ignore, or at best laugh at, what's actually happening all around us? Has it become smart to present bullshit as news?
Are comedians the only ones who rely on the truth anymore? Has Comedy filled the void where Substance used to be? Does it have to be a joke to be true? Does the truth have to be funny for anyone to pay attention to it? How funny is globalwarmingconstantwarfarefinancialcatastropheracistparanoia, anyway?
OK, my time's up! Good night folks, thanks for coming and don't forget to tip your waitresses, ah hell, knock 'em right over!? But seriously, I'll be here all week!!
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