Politicians vs. The Media

Hail the Angel of Newt

HE'S A SWEET, SWEET ANGEL - Newt likes to say stupid things and then blame the media for reporting on them. Click photo for more Newt Nudes >>

One by one, the Republican presidential field has come to ruination and they’ve blamed the media, or mainstream media (MSM), or Lamestream media in Palinspeak – at every turn.  They are apparently of the mistaken opinion, as was US Senate candidate Sharron Angle, that journalists should only ask questions candidates want to answer. As news consumers and master media manipulators themselves that belief alone should be a disqualification for lack of critical thinking skills.

When faced with proof of their objectionable behavior, they vigorously deny it. Even a world-class nimrod can see that is a surefire strategic loser. In taking that position politicians deny the existence of videotape, reporters’ notebooks, and public records. Oh, and any lick of common sense too. Without these contradictions in their truthy narratives, The Daily Show and Fox News would starve for a lack of comedy gold. And, Newt Gingrich would still be unstoppable and not a fast-sinking nitwit outfitted with concrete overshoes.

When repeated denials collapse under their own weight the fraidy-cat graftmeisters often blame the media for gotcha journalism. The Half-Term Schoolmarm was a master practitioner of this craft – even if it is the least successful strategy of all. When Katie Couric asked her which newspapers or magazines she regularly read she stammered, “All of them”. Unsurprisingly, Couric and the general public didn’t buy that. If you’re running for President of the Free World and you’re tripped up by a question you could have answered with Time, the Wasilla News Weasel, or Reader’s Digest your mind is as nimble as a saguaro cactus with one of its quills on the “noo-cu-ler” football.

She whined and stamped her sensible pumps and said something on the order of, “That was gotcha journalism, you betcha. They wouldn’t have asked Barack Hussein Obama that.”

In fact, they probably wouldn’t have, although he got plenty of equally dangerous questions too.  However in this case, she was rumored to be aggressively incurious, much like George the Lesser. Since escaping his Reign of Error was nigh, it’s a legitimate question to ask about that uncuriosity. After all, you could accuse The Messiah of many things, but being incurious or poorly spoken wasn’t one of them.

I don’t always buy the flip-flopper angle either. There are numerous legitimate reasons to change a position and if you can reasonably explain them you can minimize their damage. But, changed too often – Mitt Romney, I’m talking about you – you are either extremely hypocritical at best or a pander bear at worst.

The media – Hannity, Rush, O’Reilly, and Maddow you are the media too – makes its share of mistakes. But they share a kinship with all politicians and others they cover. When they make a mistake it’s in full view of the public just like when politicians act like stupid lunkheads. Both careers need a certain amount of aplomb that all too often is sorely missing.

And one other thing: perceptions of media bias are one of the few bipartisan things left in America. If the same story, with reasonably consistent facts, gets complaints from both left and right it’s a sign that the bias may be more between your ears than splashed across a screen or paper.

So quit yer bellyachin’ and act like rational adults.

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Good Night and Good Luck…You’ll Need It

Infotainment Rules

WHAT'S THE DIFF? - With today's oversaturated media market and constant demands for more and more entertainment, the news has become just one more Big Show.

Americans are an easily bored lot. We demand everything be ripe with entertainment possibilities. We’re a nation addicted to 24X7, 500-channel television – which we nevertheless claim has nothing worth watching – on which we gorge ourselves on a never-ending supply of reality shows promoting the most fame-crazed and mentally defective of us to open their lives in the most voyeuristic fashion. Real life made unreal by the millions of gawking rubberneckers tuning in.

And, the most unrealistic reality shows are the news shows.

Television news was once a place where networks expected to lose money on the public service of covering the news. Now ratings make newsrooms just like any other Disneyesque entertainment outlet. The Edward R. Murrow/Walter Cronkite newsroom was a place where serious people investigated serious topics, regardless of their inherent profitability. Today, there’s little distinction between the Daily Show bullpen and the CNN newsroom.

Once profit became the news’ primary MO focus-grouped, ratings-pregnant drivel stepped in as a sort of news lite where interviews are ‘booked’ and ‘talent’ eggs on the most disgraceful, but oh so entertaining, shout-fests. As much as everyone likes to complain about the ‘mainstream media’ – which is curiously deemed both too liberal and too conservative at the same time – we’ve got no one to blame except our infamously Nielsen-rated selves.

Because of our national, self-absorbed entertainment obsession, we’re killing the geese that laid our golden First Amendment eggs. We’ve abandoned print media altogether. Once-vibrant publications like Newsweek are going the way of the dodo because of the printed page’s inability to adapt to our real-time, excitingly manufactured, multimedia entertainment extravaganza demands.

But even e-media is slipping away. We’ve begun sucking the marrow from infotainment’s bones and it’s not long on this Earth because of it. Real TV news has been supplanted by screaming mimis like Glenn Beck. Even the ‘serious’ Sunday news programs are pale imitations of professional wrestling – all faux drama and glittery costumes bumptiously pontificating on the national debt or latest job numbers. We’ve molded the news to our ravenous need for entertainment and are in a rapidly quickening race to put it out of business too. It seems that as we’ve consumed reality shows like Big Brother we’ve unwittingly given ourselves over to Orwell’s Big Brother…

…and become a nation of scandal junkie couch potatoes minus the skills to tell the difference between Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart.

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