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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

End of an Era

My Ass

In the wake of the recent announcement that two of the three major networks are losing their news anchors I saw this ad in the paper.


The retirement of Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather is being treated like the passing of two heads of state. I don’t think that I have ever watched the evening news unless I was out for a laugh. There isn’t anything funnier than seeing Dan Rather parading around in a safari vest pretending like he is a reporter. I think he must have seen an old movie in which a reporter wore a safari vest so that’s how Rather gets into character. Tom Brokaw is probably a little bit less of a jackass than Rather but I really wouldn’t know. I can’t recall ever watching one of his newscasts. I have never felt the need to hear either of their comforting voices in times of national peril. In those times I am too busy trying to get informed to watch TV.

The nightly news, for which we are supposed to feel such gratitude, is a one half hour broadcast, the last time I looked. Remove the commercials and you are down to 22 minutes or so. If you were to read it out loud it would take you about that long to read one main feature story in the New York Times. If the particular news story that Rather/Brokaw/Jennings is reading doesn’t interest you, the option of turning the page isn’t available with television. Watching TV news is a very inefficient use of your time if you are looking to become informed. Television news is usually third-rate because they are generally only concerned with stories that have cool video, which is why Americans know so little about health care and economic issues.

Do you really think that you are better informed because you watched the World Trade Centers fall down about 1,000 times? In case you forgot, TV news was positively obsessed with the OJ Simpson trial yet this “story” barely rated coverage in newspapers.

The most trusted name in fake news, The Daily Show, constantly points out the disservice to the American public being done by network news. TV lacks the attention span to cover any news item weightier than a car wreck or a celebrity drug overdose. TV is not really conducive for broadcasting the news which is why I think you should only turn on your set to watch The Simpsons or The Sopranos. To get your finger on the pulse of the situation in the Middle East I would suggest that you switch the channel from the news to the station playing the Rambo movie where he kicks ass in Afghanistan.

Entertainment masquerading as news seems to be one of the main forces in the great political divide in this country. The airwaves are full of kooks of every political persuasion dealing out misinformation while they spew out extreme, ill-informed opinions on every subject under the sun. For the life of me I can’t understand how anyone could be entertained by a broadcast of the Rush Limbaugh Show, ditto that for Al Franken’s thing on Air America. I’d rather listen to a two hour drum solo and I’d probably learn more about politics with that option. I find it sad that while America comes to grips with the loss of two news readers, most people couldn’t even name a real journalist.

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