Cable News: The New Comedy Network


Who can argue that cable TV teems with killer comedy.  I mean, have you watched CNN, MSNBC or FOX News channels lately?  Good gracious, those guys are funnier than a bus filled with school kids careening into a canyon.

Here’s the really funny part about cable news.   More people watch The Bachelor than all cable news programming.   Yes, combined.

Let’s face it, cable news is reality TV at its most anemic.  Crappy acting chops.  Limp scripts.  No sass.  No sex.  Just a bunch of dutiful pedants or halfwits.  You want loudmouth entertainment?  Why not have Roseanne Barr and Andrew Dice Clay join Paul Begala and Mary Matalin for a roundtable on the gas tax?  You want sexy?  How about Next Top Model contestants debate steel tarrifs?   The 25-54 demo would jump for joy.

Nobody watches cable news because there is no news.  You have Hannity who whips the Right into a frenzy.  You have Maddow who further boils the Left’s blood.  And you have CNN who sends everyone else into a coma.  If you want to know how fiscal policy will affect your retirement plan (if you still have one) or your health plan (if you can find one) or your kid’s tuition plan (if you can afford one), cable news is not your friend. 

Where can you find your thing?  No idea.  Would be great to ask Walter Cronkite, but he’s dead.  Perhaps they buried the news business with him.  

Some people turn to those trusty, dusty newspapers, the real journeymen of journalism.  At this juncture, however, the paper biz is kinda like the Snow Leopard or the Cotton-Top Tamarin.  Continued funding for endangered species in an eternally down economy rife with citizens already overburdened by disposable data?  Good luck with that.

Since median household income is about fifty nine grand, suffice it to say the middle class isn’t likely prioritizing a date with AC360.  If those folks aren’t educated by cable news, aren’t informed by cable news, aren’t enlightened by cable news, and aren’t even paying attention to cable news, why is cable news so intent on preaching to and about them? 

Actually, they aren’t.

Cable news is the business of selling vapor to people who prize vapor and want more.  Like QVC with a lobby.  And I don’t mean the kind of lobby you sit in while waiting to interview for the job that you won’t be hired for.   I mean the kind of lobby that has made Capitol Hill look like some estate sale where everything left of humanity must go.

I appreciate someone like Rachel Maddow.  Smart.  Studied.  Industrious.  Engaging.  She’s hurdled absurd gender and culture barriers that still rule in a straight white man’s world.  And she does invest in due diligence when tracking foul-smelling crumbs to menacing supply chains.  Problem is, she carries on like giddy entertainer replete with props, exaggerated inflections, and gushing gratitude for partisan guests.  In fact, any hard work winds up obfuscated by her progressive bias and those requisite theatrics.  Her boots are not on the ground.  She aggregates nearly everything she prattles on about for an hour.  She essentially sells laundry detergent.  And so there goes the baby with the bathwater.  Information cloaked in entertainment.  The takeaway becomes a throwaway.  

News by its very nature is not entertaining.  It should help you understand where your paycheck disappeared to... why you can’t afford to put more than a half tank of gas in your car... why you should stop using that diet pill... why North Korea is a no-win... and how that candidate with the flag pin stands on union rights or discretionary spending.  And sure, occasionally it can get to the bottom of J-Lo’s split with her lusty Latin lover.  We can't expect to go completely cold turkey.

People from all walks of American life face a monumental task in trying to make informed decisions amidst myriad demands of a world that spins a million miles an hour.  Wouldn’t it be grand to turn on the TV and learn something? 

The Telecommunications Act of 1996.  The coup de grace of media deregulation fired up by Reagan in the 80s, cultivated by Clinton years later.  Their acts feigned to be gateways for greater competition when, in fact, the number of major media companies took a nosedive from over 50 to a mere 6 in less than 25 years.  Journalism was no longer a priority.  Profiteering was.  Propaganda was.  Product positioning was.  Influence-peddling was.

For a far more robust, elegant take on this matter, put your nose into anything written by Robert McChesney, the Yoda of media mania.  His virtual brainchild is FreePress.Net. His musings are prophetic.  And frightening.