Watchdog Blog

Carolyn Lewis: Political Talk on TV: Fiddling While Rome Burns

Posted at 8:50 am, March 26th, 2008
Carolyn Lewis Mug

I imagine there are a lot of television viewers who feel as I do – weary of the mindless nitpicking that masquerades as political analysis. Set against the hard reality of a nation in deep trouble. it’s impossible to justify the endless attention to trivia.

Sure, people in public liife can now and then say strange and ambiguous things. They aren’t perfect, they aren’t gods. John McCain is in his seventies and now and then when he’s tired he flubs his lines. Younger people do that too. Hillary Clinton either had a memory lapse or fibbed about coming under sniper fire in Bosnia.

The flubbed lines are played again and again while the television crowd hisses and boos. Bill Clinton made a speech in which he said the country should have two patriotic candidates contending, which was promptly interpreted as an attack on Obama’s loyalty to his country. I listened to the speech and couldn’t understand why anybody would interpret the statement that way, but oh boy, the television pundits had a field day with it. Round and round the talk went.

The same for Geraldine Ferraro’s comments, picked over by the media inquisitors. And the Reverend Wright whose words were torn out of their context and historical meaning to be played again and again while the pundits tut-tutted and rolled their eyes.

It’s fine to discuss the words if they are considered significant, but isn’t there a time to move on? Why make them the centerpiece of these endless teeth-gnashings?

I don’t blame the serious reporter guests for the sorry state of these affairs. It’s the lead personalities like Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, and Wolf Blitzer who set the program’s agenda. Sure, serious conversation may not be as sexy as pontificating about the awful things people say, but this interminable blather is like fiddling while Rome burns.

Hey there. Americans are dying in wars. They are losing jobs and houses. They can’t get medical help when they need it. Their children are poorly educated and they can’t afford to pay for college. There’s a real world outside beyond the studio. Why not stop the idle yammering and do some reporting?

One Response to “Political Talk on TV: Fiddling While Rome Burns”

  1. Jim Michie says:

    GOOD JOB, Carolyn. It’s about time someone took to task the pitbulls and wanna-be “journalists” of cable news. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic, and it gets worse by the hour. When will Chris Matthews ever get tired of asking: “Why did Barack Obama sit in that Church for 20 years listening to Rev. Wright?” And then there are those teleprompter “readers” who “anchor” hour after hour of what is billed as “News”. These readers have no idea of what news reporting is about–and most of them don’t seem to want to know as they announce “BREAKING NEWS” while showing video from a helicopter of a police chase down a freeway, or maybe a non-descript warehouse fire in Boise? And it goes on and on and on and on. Oh PLEASE! Deliver me from this insanity!

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