Friday, July 08, 2005

All Was Quiet on the Western Front

Until yesterday and now the pundits and wags are out stirring shit up and enflaming me. As Madeline Kahn said, "I hate [them] so much,.... flames... flames on the side of my face... breathing... breathless... having breaths...."

I don't watch television news channels much. I think they do glib, shoddy work that's geared towards competition with one another and increases in ad revenue. I think their interviewers are talentless, unless they happen to be challenging morons like Tom Cruise about psychiatry. Tucker Carlson called Jon Stewart out last year on the now (thankfully) defunct Crossfire for lobbing softballs at candidate John Kerry. The real question is, why do the actual media throw soft balls at everyone? As Stewart put it, "If your idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape, fellows." No, with the notable exception of Christiane Amanpour (a goddess among journalists), the television media is seriously lacking.

So, I get most of my news from NPR and BBC, because they will cover stories that the "mainstream" media will not bother with, and because they actually grill people and hold them to what they have said and done in the past. Mind you, this is very different from what people like Tucker Carlson and friggin' Bill O'Reilly do - yelling at a guest and then booting them off the show does not a talented (or responsible) interviewer make. And yes, there are certainly many many claims of "liberal bias" regarding NPR. I disagree. I think they are a paragon of balanced reporting, hence the fact that I nearly drive off the road when they have bible thumpers or Paul Wolfowitz on. And if anything, they occasionally veer off in the direction of mainstream (see their poorly done coverage of the Swift Boat Veterans bullshit).

Anyway, I was irritated today to read on MSNBC (also look at the CNN and MSNBC websites everyday... even though I feel I probably shouldn't bother), Tim Russert's blathering. Apparently he gets interviewed by some schmuck every week and it's posted on the site. Firts things first, what business does Tim Russert have stating his thoughts and opinions? Isn't he supposed to be impartial? Doesn't he host Meet the Press, which granted, is hardly impartial, but at least pretends to be?

The best part is that Russert is pontificating on a subject that he probably knows jack about. One of my favorite nuggets of Russert wisdom: "I read a report out of Great Britain that younger Muslims are beginning to reject this form of violence. We’ll see, because there’s little evidence to indicate that." Well, gee, let's think about that, asshole. How many Muslims are there in GB? Or in the world? Are all of them terrorists? Is every young Muslim man and woman in GB thinking about blowing themself up?

Then he talks about how Blair needs to get on the horn to his people and talk about how if it weren't for their involvment in Iraq, there would be more incidents of terrorism. For someone who went to law school, Russert shows an interesting lack of logic and disregard for the facts. I'd personally prefer it if Russert would stick to moderating Meet the Press.

NPR, the Times, even the Wall Street Journal separate their commentators and op-edders from their actual journalists. I may not agree with most of the Journal's opinion page, but that doesn't change the fact that their reporters are some of the best out there, and I'm happy to get news from them. But the television media can't help themselves. Stewart was right - they really do hurt America.

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