Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Newt and Network "news"

Last Sunday on Meet the Press, Newt Gingrich commented on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan, which would turn Medicare into a voucher system:

"I think that that is too big a jump ... it's right-wing social engineering [which is not] any more desirable than left-wing social engineering."

This criticism was, of course, big news, coming from a long-time right-wing ideologue, former Speaker of the House and current presidential aspirant (and lifelong sleaze). It was obviously a candidate for a major story on network "news" programs.

So, on Monday, I watched NBC "news". The thrust of their story was that Republicans were outraged at Newt's disloyalty to the party, with many predicting that his remarks would doom his candidacy for president in 2012. Several huffing and puffing muck-a-mucks were interviewed, as well as a rank-and-filer who accosted Gingrich after one of his public appearances.

What was missing was any sort of analysis or commentary on why Gingrich had made this remark or what it might even mean. What does "social engineering" entail, and how does transforming Medicare into a voucher system qualify as social engineering? What part of Medicare is "left-wing social engineering"? In other words, Brian Williams and company had no interest in this story in terms of issues -- it was simply a part of a big gossip trot-out involving, as usual, personalities: Gingrich vs. Ryan, McConnell vs. Reid etc. What this had to do with health care or budget reform was never mentioned, nor even the obvious question of how the Democrats might use this.

That's why network "news" is so unbearably superficial. It's transmitted from uncritical reporters to their studios to our tubes on a binary signal that's all zeros.

1 comment:

  1. I watch ABC News every night if it's not pre-empted by other programming. I happen to like David Muir, although the content of the news is just about as lame on all the channels. I read the local newspaper every morning if it's delivered. Unfortunately a lot of the stories are superficial as well or are not included due to space considerations. I read the NYT online daily if the internet is up. So I do try to keep up with what is going on in the world. Even so, I do not feel well-informed. I am afraid that most Americans know even less than I do about the stories behind the stories. Our Senators and Representatives count on our ignorance about their foibles and machinations. How on earth did the people vote intelligently in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Perhaps they could actually trust their elected officials. I certainly don't...