Television Camera Make You Stoopid

I really can’t think of a better way to try to explain why the people who actually get paid to talk about politics on television are so utterly, well, dumb (other than the fact that they’re trained journalists, not professional politicos, for the most part). I mean, I rag on cable news a lot, to the point that I’m seriously considering writing a book on how God awful it is, but this week’s coverage has been atrocious even by cable’s standards.

First of all, and probably most obviously, there’s the point that they’re not even covering the convention. For the most part, the only speeches featured have been the evenings’ headliners, and one other on the night (Kennedy, Warner, and Bill Clinton thus far, probably Al Gore’s speech tonight). Meanwhile, many solid, substantive speeches that have been widely praised by people who care to watch what’s actually happening, by such people as the Speaker of the House, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Lily Ledbetter, and former Presidential candidate and US Senator John Kerry, haven’t even been shown by the networks, who apparently think that people who turn on the TV to watch the convention don’t actually want to watch the convention, and would rather hear Chris Matthews talk some more. In fact, as Gawker pretty clearly catalogues, they’re spending most of their time “covering” each other.

Maybe the more worrisome fact is just how insulated the media has proven to be. Fox News is a Republican propaganda outift, so I’ll give them a pass on expectations. But on CNN, “the most trusted name in news,” Paul Begala, who obviously had a role in planning the 1992 convention, set the record straight on the undying myth that Gov. Bob Casey Sr. was barred from speaking because he was pro-life. Undeterred, CNN ran a graphic asserting just that, loudly blaring it as a “fact” no less, not 15 minutes after Begala explained it.

But arguable the worst network thus far has been the one that supposedly is trying to be the “most liberal” network, NBC. Anchors are feuding on air, Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews are, well, Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews, Nora O’Donnell isn’t even watching the speeches before she goes on air to “analyze” things, and Tom Brokaw ought to be embarrassing everyone associated with the network. And even though their political director, on the air, said they were making too much out of the Clinton-Obama rift, arguably no network spent more time flogging it than MSNBC.

Here’s hoping Rachel Maddow has the mettle to single handedly save America from television.