Sunday, January 23, 2011

As Falls The Pundit

...So, I'm readin' one of the linked stories on the departure of the Olbers-Man (you realize this totally confirms the rumor that Comcast is run by orcs, don'cha?) and there are commenters referring to his program and others of the same ilk as "news."

They're not alone; I hear folks on the right refer to Mr. Limbaugh's offerings as "news," too.

Folks, they ain't. They're commentary. Opinion. Entertainment. That's how they're logged, too; stations and networks keep track of how much Actual News they dole out, how many minutes of commercials, how many public service announcements and so on; it helps when their license comes up for renewal or when they get to playing the dozens with the competition. Way Back When, brilliant essayists like Harry Reasoner got their five minutes a day on the radio and it got logged as....Entertainment. Just like the Frank Sinatra and Devo records and the Whacky Wake-Up Show.

We used to have a host of 'em, mostly men, who wielded typewriters and microphones like scalpels and engraver's points; we had Buckley on the Right and Gore Vidal on the Left, at least, guys who composed on the fly in their own pedantic battle rap and if I thought they were both wrong on a lot of things, at least I knew what they thought. Their invective was a rapier, not a poisoned bludgeon, even when they were on the verge of fisticuffs. All that's left now is Vidal, who could still whip any ten talking heads at Scrabble, having spotted them the OED. Yeah, I loathe his politics (etc.) but I'll still sit and listen to him talk -- because he can put words together, the right words, properly assembled. Attractively, even. If he wants 'em envenomed, he uses the better grades of venom for the job and applies the stuff with precision.

And we haven't many left who can do that. MSNBC dumped Keith Olbermann, hooray -- and so what? --My concern is, what're they gonna replace him with? (Clone Chris Matthews before his own bile dissolves him from within?)

PS: You want stupid venom on a broad, broad brush? Noam Chomsky says U. S. Republican midterm success means The End Of The World! Great. Let's get t'lootin'! Idiot.


cybrus said...

I don't have cable, so I can't speak for that, but I have trouble categorizing the actual local ABC?CBS/NBC/WTF news AS news. It's usually (at least around Pittsburgh) running off the same script as Entertainment Tonight with some of the celebrity sleaze replaced with fires and shootings.

And, even worse, they subscribe to the "Safe Auto" version of news - minimum coverage, usually just a line or two on their teleprompters, and then switch to the next topic. It's very similar to Instapundit, only without the links to the actual information and none of the snarky humor.

Shane said...

If Orcs are running Comcast, they can't be from Skippy's clan.

Roberta X said...

True, that. --Too many people go the other direction and assume that if it's got a talking head (or several) and graphics and talks about world or national events, it must be news. Usually not.

Roberta X said...

Shane, it does seem unlikely to be Skippy's relations. No technical expertise, among other glaring flaws.

Stranger said...

Yep. Victor Borge's five minutes were logged in the same column as Harry Reasoner. But Borge was much funnier.


BobG said...

I never watch news on TV myself. I prefer getting it over the web, where I can look at several sources, and not have to listen to the talking heads babbling away without getting to the heart of the news.

Guffaw in AZ said...

Most 'news' these days is the 'news' that brings us Snooki, and Dancing with the Skating Chefs results. It's new, perhaps, but uninteresting and uninformative. I did see a blub on the 'net today that Olberman was just hired by FOX? Now fair and unbalanced?

wv: pantemen (insert joke here)

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Just FWIW, I suspect Rush would characterize his offerings as "commentary", whereas Olby-baby would probably characterize his as "news" (and with a straight face).

I may listen to Rush and enjoy his aural stylings, but I never, ever, mistake him for the news.

CGHill said...

The only member of the commentariat who regularly insisted on the N-word was Paul Harvey: "Stand by for news!"