Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lazy Sunday #129: Not Necessarily The News


When you bounce around the world as much as I seem to do, you begin to notice things about local newscasts that probably escape the locals. Like what's the deal with Sportscasters and hair gel?

The minute the lights come up on the local panel of News Anchors, you can always tell which guy is going to do the sports report because, whether he's 16 or 60, he's gellin'.

I guess hair gel is supposed to imply you're young and hip and cool. At least it did in the 1980's. And I presume the implication is that those are the kind of guys who need to know what's going on at the British Open or the Tour de France.

Same thing goes for the guys who come in to deliver the stock market reports. They're always wearing a pinstripe suit.

It doesn't matter whether the rest of the team is all in matching lavender jackets or decked out in Hawaiian shirts because it's summer. The boys on Bay and Wall Streets or down in "The City" all wear pinstripes so the assumption is that you're not going to take the cratering of your retirement funds seriously unless the guy telling you they're going South is also wearing a pinstripe suit.

This is showbizzing up the News at its lamest. But it has become so ingrained in the broadcast culture barely anybody notices anymore. Perhaps in the same way they don't notice the agendification of what used to be considered journalism.

Fox News has been a deserved whipping boy in that respect for a while. This week the existence of a group calling itself "Journal-List" was exposed in the US where some fairly well known writers on the Left were "conspiring" to spin stories to attack those not fully in agreement with President Obama.

You can find a balanced report and reaction on it all here from Andrew Sullivan, a really worthwhile Left leaning writer for The Atlantic.

I'm not exactly sure when journalists decided that simply digging up and relaying what's going on in the world was boring and it was up to them to advocate for one cause or another. But that's clearly the era we're in. And, like hair gel and pinstripe suits, its the way TV News attempts to convince us they're really an integral part of the stories on which they report.

This week in Canada, we had journalists on the Right campaigning to have Conrad Black allowed back into the country. Despite the fact that ninety-plus percent of the population probably makes it through the day without giving Lord Black a second of thought, it was endlessly advocated. Friday, the first six pages of the National Post were completely devoted to speculation on the return of the King or Baron or Ex-Con or whatever he is.

My favorite was some knob arguing that despite renouncing his Canadian citizenship and spending the last decade in the House of Lords, Palm Beach, Bora-Bora and prison, "He never stopped caring about this country".

Su-u-u-u-u-ure he did.

It's interesting that while all this was going on, none of these journalists were following somebody else who cared about his country and was being repatriated from Afghanistan in a pine box.

Over at the CBC, the Leftist agenda -- okay, I know the CBC Ombudsman did an investigation and didn't find any Liberal bias, but some of us can tell the difference between a capital L and an ordinary one -- anyway, their unending story this week was the decision to make the Mandatory long form census -- uh, voluntary.

Faceless Bureaucrats screamed with outrage at this lessening of their ability to penalize somebody for not filling out a form. One group even composed a song based on Gary Lewis and the Playboys' "Count Me In". The funny part about that was that as their video went viral, one of the performers changed his mind about not being faceless and the CBC blurred out his image in subsequent airings.

I guess if you work at CBC News you know faceless bureaucrats are not only most of your audience but the "unnamed government sources" in all those stories you often have to apologize for later.

Indeed, by the end of the week, a CBC Reporter actually more concerned with discovering the facts than bashing the government appeared to declaim that several countries had given up on their mandatory census forms because people tended to fib a lot in order to hide what they wanted to keep private while still staying out of jail.

Apparently Great Britain ditched theirs after discovering an inordinate number of the respondents claimed to be Jedi Knights.

South of the border, where what passes for News is at its ugliest, we had the sorry tale of Shirley Sharrod, an innocent functionary in the Obama administration who was outed as a Racist, humiliated, fired, cleared of all wrong doing, rehired and apologized to -- all within 48 hours.


Too often, watching Fox and MSNBC, I've watched somebody go off on somebody from "the other side" while video clearly shows them simply flubbing their lines or doing something utterly benign. But that doesn't matter. What matters is making sure the moment is spun out to fit pre-ordained agenda.

The clip I've chosen for this Sunday's offering relates to Shirley Sharrod as Glenn Beck mocks one of Keith Olbermann's diatribes on the story. If MSNBC has taught you to hate Glenn Beck, there's probably a lot in here to reaffirm your bias. If you have no time for Keith Olbermann, it'll probably make your day.

But the reason I chose it, is because it exemplifies just how out of whack the whole "Honest, we're telling you the truth" news game has become. This is patent showbiz sideshow stuff, right down to a format first pioneered by Howard Stern (probably proving he really is the King of All Media) and the forced laughter of drive time radio and chummy local newscasts.

The TV News world is all about preaching to a demographic now and the false belief that somebody will, like Walter Cronkite, be able to sway the national agenda with their opinion. It's show business as practiced by clowns when we deserve the opportunity to be handed the facts and allowed to make up our own minds.

Enjoy your Sunday.


Hold Me Matt said...



In my comedy spec pilot The Good News Network (GNN) I take the piss out of a small-town newscast (including a gel & cologne obsessed sports guy) after one of their reporters accidentally uncovers a multi-national mining co's conspiracy to destroy their town.

Funny f'king stuff man.

rick mcginnis said...

I agree with you about everything but Sullivan; he's been batshit crazy for years now.