It’s been quite a couple weeks for the media. With a royal wedding, a celebrity meltdown, and a political sideshow, they’ve hit a dream trifecta of tripe.
Network news executives must be thrilled. I mean, how often do they get to put up a “kiss countdown” graphic? Or report as “breaking news” that the president of the United States was in fact born in the United States, while in effect promoting their own reality show starring the clown who made this racist lunacy the number-one topic of political discussion on social media?
How meta. If only they could have broken in to their own break-in with something about Charlie Sheen.
Do you think they felt a teensy bit awkward covering the devastation in the South live from Trafalgar Square, where most of their anchors and correspondents were stationed (segue to story about funny hats)?
Meanwhile, Libya burns, the devastated South reels from climate change-driven storms, and our elected leaders are having possibly the most consequential debate about the role of government and the future of our country in at least 50 years. You’d think that this overwhelming juxtaposition of what’s important and what’s not would somehow register.
But no. There is not the slightest hint of introspection or self-criticism in today’s media (they are the opposite of Democrats in this respect). If there was, the last 10 days would have every cable news executive on a psychiatrist’s couch (“I have these dreams…about Snookie dating Paul Ryan”). Watching the extremity of their contortions as they strove to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the birth certificate travesty was stunning. [Vote now: Will Obama’s long-form birth certificate end the birther movement?]
But as frustrating as it is when the media doesn’t cover politics or major issues, it can be even more maddening when they do. It’s tripe of a different stripe. Consider the cable morning shows. CNN—so obsessively “balanced” that nothing is ever right or wrong. Morning Joe—infatuated with anyone who has the “courage” to not raise taxes on people like… Joe Scarborough. Say what you want about Fox News. At least it has a point of view—and basically admits it. How else to explain a graphic that reports the White House has released “what it says” is the president’s birth certificate?
I know the news business is tougher than it has ever been. Money is tight (unless you are Arianna Huffington). Audiences are flaky. But if the next 18 months are like the last 10 days, I’ve got two words for you: