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Bye Bye Meet The Press

I’m in a good and giving mood today so I thought I would take a moment out to offer NBC some free advice. Meet The Press is toast, and you’re not going to pick up a single viewer with your new posse of hosts. Frankly, this shouldn’t have to be pointed out.

Chuck Todd, who proudly proclaimed that it is not his job to inform the public is not the solution to David Gregory, who made no effort to inform the public.

Let me take a moment out to ask Chuck Todd a question that I’m dying to hear his answer to; why does a stenographer with a camera pointed at them make so much more money than the stenographer sans camera?

But I digress. Here’s the deal; people who don’t want to be informed aren’t watching Sunday morning political talk shows. Again, I’m still flummoxed as to why I have to explain this. So when you spend an hour describing how every side of every issue has exactly the same merit as the other side, no one cares. That false equivalency you’ve created in order to get people to check out of politics, makes them check out of you and your vapid bullshit program.

Also, I can’t for the life of me understand why all of these shows are subversively right wing when they’re not being pathologically "even". Here’s a little tally that Media Matters did of guests on the Sunday morning talk shows.

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"Even" doesn’t really appear to be neutral, does it? All of the networks, with the exception of Fox seem to be missing an obvious fact of the political culture in America; there is no center right in the republican party anymore. The center right (such as it is), now exists in the democratic party. The only options in camp GOP are far right and batshit right. I define far right as the crowd that still clings onto the trickle down canard that’s been thoroughly disproved. They still think that social safety nets are bad for them. The batshit right is the "Kenyan usurper" crowd.

Those are the only two options in the GOP. A moderate approach to anything simply doesn’t exist in the republican party so there’s no one in America who is interested in a slightly right analysis of politics. You either need to go full batshit like Fox, or you need to present empirical facts. Why did I leave out the going-left option? Because any objective course correction for all of the major issues we face, would be (strictly speaking) a leftward change in direction. We’ve so badly fucked up nearly everything with a far right wing approach, that there’s no right to be had without more fucking up. The Bush "doctrine" (I like the implication that there was any thought involved by using the word "doctrine") fucked up the middle east for decades. "Corporations are people, my friends" has thoroughly fucked up our electoral process and our income inequality situation, not to mention creating stagnant wages. There is no credible argument made for fixing our problems by going further right.

Going "democrat" isn’t really a winning direction for Meet The Press either. MSNBC has already taken the position of mouthpiece for the DNC. Liberals don’t much care. They’re not like republicans who love bathing in the message of the RNC. Liberals are inherently different than conservatives. We’re not as interested in being told what our opinions are. We don’t crave an authoritarian figure to be our daddy, telling us what to think and eat. Liberals generally like to think. Not just that, but we like to think that our ideas are better than any other liberal’s ideas. Seriously, trying to get liberals on board with one single solution is like herding cats. My liberal friends all have better ideas than mine. Well, they think they do. You and I both know that my ideas are the bestest in the world. Anyway, that’s why Fox has more viewers than MSNBC.

And frankly, we’re not talking about huge numbers when it comes to cable news. The most viewed show on cable news is O’Reilly with around 2.7 million viewers. That’s pretty insignificant in a country with around 150 million adults. And O’Reilly’s viewers are an average of 68 years old. They’re the spry, young whipper snappers of the Fox viewing audience whose average age is 71 years old. The Sunday morning talk shows are much smaller in terms of viewers. "This Week" is the highest rated show at 890k viewers in the "demo" (25 – 54 years old). These are not culturally relevant numbers we’re talking about.

This new gang of commentators that NBC has assembled for Meet The Press isn’t going to get the ratings job done because they haven’t changed the formula. They just changed the shade of eye shadow on the show. Chuck Todd actually sucks at what he does more than David Gregory did at the same game. Joe Scarborough only had 105k viewers on excruciating three hour long Starbuck’s ad so he’s not going to help. Luke Russert’s brand of frat boy dim wittery won’t come in to save the day. Andrea Mitchell isn’t bad, but I don’t think she’s going to usher in the big ratings numbers.

Sorry NBC, you’re not going to fix anything with the polish you’ve attempted to apply to your turd.                      

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Ideological Handcuffs

I’m depressed.

As you guys know, I’m a news junkie. I listen to right wing news, liberal news, conservative talk, liberal talk, you name it, I engage in it. My news addiction had become the bane of my existence.

I’m not depressed because of a giant oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. I’m not depressed because a lunatic tried to detonate a bomb in Times Square. I’m not even depressed because our financial system is hanging by a thread. I’m depressed because all of that media that I diligently take in every day is either batshit crazy, or utterly uninformative.

Let’s start with the BP oil disaster. The right wing media has been cooking up a conspiracy theory that the whole situation wasn’t an accident, but that it was sabotage. I’m not going to go into details about the conspiracy theories, because that would be a giant waste of my time and yours. But Media Matters has compiled a good synopsis. The crux of it is basically that the white house orchestrated the spill so that President Obama could renege on his offshore drilling plans.

Really? He created a monumental oil spill that will potentially fuck up three states so that he doesn’t have to risk expanding offshore drilling, which he’s opposed to, because it could fuck up nearby states? Has anybody ever heard anything more stupid? We just lived through eight years of George W Bush, and this is still the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!

I’m not depressed because the right wing is crazy and stupid. Sadly, I’ve come to expect that they will be. I’m depressed because there is a legitimate criticism of Obama that we’ll never hear. Obama never should have consented to expand offshore drilling. We have mountains of evidence to show that it can’t be done with 100% certainty that something won’t go wrong. I’m not opposed to it because it sounds bad. I’m opposed to it because logic and reasoning tell me that when you’re drilling under 16,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, a lot of shit can go wrong. And with that kind of pressure, the tiniest thing that goes wrong, rips the whole pipeline open. The legitimate attack on Obama is that his administration didn’t do enough to impose stronger safety regulations on the oil industry and that, like Bush before him, he let the oil industry largely police themselves. But we’ll never hear that from the opposition because they are wearing ideological handcuffs. They want offshore drilling, regardless of the very real and now, demonstrable downside. This is an ideology that isn’t based in facts therefore, it is an an ideology that is impervious to cogent debate. The right wing, who hated Ted Kennedy never went after him for blocking the building of wind farms in his backyard. THERE was a legitimate criticism of someone they loathed, and yet they never raised it because they don’t want to get off our oil dependency. Ideological handcuffs are preventing them from taking legitimate shots at the opposition.

Let’s move onto the failed attempt to bomb Times Square on Saturday. As usual, the right wing was a bottomless pit of useless, uninformative, and crazy. FOX spent its time trying to prop up the Bush administration by falsely claiming that there were no successful attacks on US soil after 9/11. Brian Kilmeade had his panties in a bunch over the reports that the suspect was (OMG) white! Let me digress for a moment to say to Mr. Kilmeade, “Hey ASSHOLE, I don’t care what color this psychopath is. I just want him caught, and so should you!”. I have to admit that my initial reaction to this stupidity was to hope that the suspect was not only white, but was married to Brian Kilmeade’s cousin. But then I realized that my reaction would make me as guilty and stupid as FOX. I don’t have a racial dog in this race and neither should anyone else. I’m a New Yorker. The only thing I want is to catch this shitbag.

Based on the information that we had at the time, shouldn’t the conversation have been about the rise of domestic terrorism? Or maybe, we could have had a discussion about how people become radicalized. But no, we can’t have that from the right because implying that crazy doesn’t have a minimum melanin requirement would contradict their narrative that brown people are to be feared. It’s not terrorism if the terrorist isn’t Muslim. Guess what? Crazy doesn’t have a color. It’s not born, it’s created. We need to talk about how it’s created and why it’s created.

Now onto financial reform. I’ve realized that the worst sources for any sort of information on economic matters are CNBC, FOX Business, Bloomberg, or any other business channel. None of them will report what actually caused the collapse, or what needs to be done to ensure that it will never be done again. They can’t. Watch the commercials that air on these networks, and you’ll see why they can’t. When a company is spending $50M a month on advertising on your network, are you really free to report them in a negative light? Have you ever wondered why you see commercials on TV for products you can’t buy? Why would Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, or Boeing spend money on prime time ad buys when you can’t buy their products? Because they’re buying insurance. The networks they advertise with would never risk losing that giant pile of ad dollars, just to keep you informed.If you’re watching news or commentary on television, you need to pay more attention to the advertisers than you do to the content.

Here’s a great clip of audio from a comedian named Jimmy Dore, talking about NBC’s reporting on the financial reform bill. It’s thirteen minutes long, but well worth the listen:

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I’m depressed because a freaking comedian is more informative than any of the news outlets that are available to me. He makes an excellent point about how network news is completely devoid of anything resembling investigative journalism anymore. They have become stenographers, relaying information from both sides, making sure that they create a false equivalency in the process.

Our media is handcuffed by financial interests.

Ironically, the best source of legitimate criticism for the Obama administration on television comes from Jon Stewart. Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann come in second and third to the comedian.

My favorite source for intelligent, unbiased analysis is The Young Turks. Give them a listen. You can get the first hour of their podcast for free through iTunes. I didn’t love them when I first started listening two years ago, but they’re the first thing I listen to every day now. They aren’t handcuffed in the same way that everyone else out there is.

I’m depressed that comedians are doing a better job of informing Americans than traditional media is. These ideological and financial handcuffs that plague our media is the reason why most Americans have no idea what’s what anymore.

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