Wednesday, March 4, 2009

WTF?! (Ramblings on mainstream media coverage)

Have you watched the evening news on any of the big network channels recently? I normally get my news from a variety of internet sources, but occasionally I’ll turn on the TV to see what’s coming out of the mainstream news world, as I did last night. All I have to say is...dang.

In the five or so minutes while I flipped channels between CNN, MSNBC, and one other station (I’m blanking on which it was), I got a range of “news” snippets (in order of increasing absurdity and stupidity): debate about Obama’s spending plan, the Rush Limbaugh/Michael Steele controversy, Cindy McCain’s love life, and some melodrama from the Bachelor (the TV show).

The discussion of the Obama plan, the most newsworthy of the list, was nothing more than partisan bickering disguised as meaningful debate: the Republican on the panel criticizes the new spending for not having enough tax credits and increasing the size of government, while the Democrat on the panel counters that we’re in this mess because of Bush’s spending. It’s the usual song and dance: they argue back forth a bit within their political party talking points, but never delve into any substantive debate. How about discussing how this plan will actually affect the American economy?

The Rush Limbaugh brouhaha is even worse. Rush Limbaugh made a comment, the chairman of the RNC responded, then apologized (or something like that – if you care about the details, look it up online). So now they’re debating who owns the Republican party. Literally, there was a yes-no poll about who owns the GOP. Is this news??? It sounds more like gossip that belongs in US Weekly. Clearly there are legitimate questions about the current state of the Republican party after being sorely defeated in the 08 election, but it goes much deeper than this. And this was on Larry King Live, mind you, a supposedly reputable news show.

As for the Cindy McCain thing, I guess her blog posts are somehow qualified as legitimate news since father ran for president, and the Bachelor... I won’t even go there.

I’m not going to blame the networks for the bitter partisan divide in American politics, but they definitely exacerbate it by inviting party talking heads on their news shows who argue real, important issues with empty talking points. I’m sure this is nothing new to a lot of people, but it had been so long since I watched the news that actually doing so kind of flabbergasted me.

The depth of coverage on mainstream news networks is so shallow, it makes Gossip Girls look important. In all honesty, I'm really disappointed by the lack of substance in what gets broadcast daily to millions of Americans. On top of all that, there’s hardly any coverage of international news. Of course there's going to be a strong domestic focus, but Americans are already pretty isolated from what’s going on in the rest of the world. So if the nightly news crap is the main source of information for a majority of Americans, then I would say we’re in trouble.

Here’s my attempt to a positive spin on the whole thing – maybe since my generation of 18 – 30 year olds does pretty much everything online, we're getting our information from better, more diverse sources and bypassing some of the mainstream TV garbage (although I don’t think that can be avoided entirely, since there’s plenty of it online, too). Until the big networks stop producing news shows like they produce their sitcoms, I think the internet is the best savior we have.


!JustDance said...

good for you MTeen. One day newscasters will realize that no one buys their stupid BS and that real news is infinitely more interesting and important than the size of the bachelor's tiny penis.

Y? said...

We are clearly getting more of our information online. Subscriptions to magazines are down because people are reading the (free) online version. The cable news cycle is 24 hours, and filled with ...well filler. The internet is also a 24 hour cycle, except that social media helps push stories that consumers feel is interesting or important to the for front. To see this in action, go to

M-teen said...

last night's Colbert Report was so timely for this post. He was making fun of Glen Beck and his new segment on Fox news called War Room where he brings up all these absurd doomsday scenarios -that he does not think will happen- to 'help' people prepare for them. Really?? Talk about politics of fear. At least I'm not alone in this frustration!