Thursday, January 10, 2008

Breaking News - Our Media is Broken

“Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’”
- Bob Dylan (1964)

My wife Nancy and I had a few exhilarating moments at the expense of pundits, pollsters, and media darlings this morning. The talking heads got it all wrong in New Hampshire, There’s something refreshing about seeing the experts getting their collective comeuppance. Watching them all scramble in a frenzied attempt to find excuses for their folly just warms the cockles of my heart.

There’s breaking news in America this morning. Bang the drums and sound the trumpets. Our media is broken. Hooray and Hallelujah!

There’s breaking news in America this morning. The people have decided to take the reins of command back.

For far too long now our media have been operating on empty, believing that the American public dangles at the end of their webs and ratings schemes like marionettes. New Hampshire may just be one in what a guy like can only hope will be a long string of media failures proving just how wrong they’ve been. All that we’ll need to make our joy complete then is watch the gut wrenching, hand wringing, and flimsy excuses that’ll surely follow.

The primary beneficiary of our morning delight was MSNBC celebrity Chris Matthews. As reported by the Associated Press, Matthews was downright angry about the failure of pre-election polls:

“Anger expressed by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews about pre-election polls that pegged the Democratic primary wrong led to an exchange between him and NBC anchor emeritus Tom Brokaw shortly before the end of that network’s coverage Tuesday. Matthews suggested the polls’ methodology should be investigated.”

The more I read the words, the more histrionic they seemed to be. Come on, Chris, join the ranks of adults in America. Stop whining. Get a grip on reality. The last thing we need is another investigation, even if it’s all meant to be in fun or pull a ratings coup. There’s plenty of that going on in Washington already. In fact, there’s so much of it going on that our elected leaders are failing miserably at conducting the people’s business.

Trying to inject some sanity into the whole mess, Tom Brokaw made the following suggestion:

“You know what I think we’re going to have to go back and do?” Brokaw said. “Wait for the voters to make their judgment.”

Well, glory be, someone gets it. Archaic as it may seem to Matthews, our Constitution still means something. “We, the people,” continue to attach ourselves to the nasty old notion that we’re the ones making the judgments. We’re the ones pulling the levers.

You’d think that Brokaw’s advice would have ended the discussion. Wisdom should have dictated that Matthews say something like, “You’re absolutely right, Tom. I’ve been a fool not to see the obvious.” But, fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and Matthews somehow decided to prove that he’s conspicuously foolish:

“Matthews responded: “What do we do then in the days before the balloting? We must stay home, I guess.”

I didn’t watch the show, but if I had I think I might have braved the winter chill, opened my windows wide, and screamed a la' Howard Beale, “Go ahead, Chris make my day; make my life! Please stay home. I’ll lobby MSNBC to put you on a ten year paid sabbatical. I’ll even provide the duct tape for your mouth.”

In fairness to Chris Matthews, it needs to be noted that he’s just part of a larger whole. Since the turning of the millennium we’ve been subjected to Bill O’Reilly and his talk of pinheads and popinjays, “el Rushbo’s” mega dittos and theatricals, or Lou Dobbs’ shameless posturing. The truth of today is, America has had enough. If only our media could see it.

Here in Emporia the reality hasn’t sunk in at the Emporia Gazette either. In last night’s edition, Chris Walker, editor, owner, mover and shaker, citizen emeritus professed a sense of puzzlement or amusement at America’s new found fetish for change:

“The latest buzz word is “change,” and all the candidates are trying to sell themselves as bringers of change.”

“If you look back in history, presidential candidates promising change is nothing new.
Historically, politicians have talked about bringing change to improve health care, reduce energy independence, cut taxes and raise the working class. Sound familiar?
It is too bad that politicians promise big changes, but in the end, nothing really changes.”

I’m sure that Chris Walker and the good folks in the Gazette newsroom would dispute it, but I detect a little bit of jealousy in the voice. Americans, including Emporians, are saying that we want change and that we’re seeing through the media masks. It’s almost as though a light has been turned on or an alarm has sounded, like ping of the carbon monoxide detector I plugged in downstairs in my dining room to protect me from deadly, unseen vapors that might be wafting through the air.. We’ve figured it out. Our media is colorless, odorless, tasteless, deadly. The reality has set in. The days of them sifting endlessly through the details, parsing, spinning, and then barking out the marching orders to the public are dying. There’s a fresh breeze in the air right now and it’s not about the media, pollsters, or pundits. It’s about us – “We the People.”

Now, that’s breaking news!


Douglas said...

Hardly breaking news...

Please write a post with the title "Why Mike Huckabee Should Be President" I know you are fond of him, but I don't get why I should be. Sell me. Pitch me. Hit me with your best shot...

Phil Dillon, Prairie Apologist said...


I'll keep your request in mind.

I hope you're not looking for 100 or so. One seems to be good enough for me at the moment - "I like Mike."

I realize that we Kansans aren't as sophisticated as you Minnesotans about these things and that the reason (or other reasons) I support Mike Huckabee aren't sufficient or brilliant enough for some, but that's alright with me. I like Mike.

Jannie said...

I love reading your blogs! You write what the rest of us are thinking! Jannie