Ignore Ignorance

This world is a funny place…

Lost In Hollywood

Posted by Brandon McKoy on July 28, 2009

It’s only July and we can already tell what the most important topic of 2009 will be; health care. I didn’t say most popular because things that are popular have to have a certain degree of entertainment value to them. The issue of health care is the most important topic of the year because a great deal of America’s future hinges on how we deal with it in the coming months. A lot of important conversations need to happen as we figure out all of the intimate details that need to be included in such legislation. Deeper issues like payment, late-life treatment (at some point you can’t keep spending money to keep those who are a lost cause alive, grim but true), doctor’s salaries, and much more need to be discussed at length so we can figure just how this thing is going to work.

Tonight I watched a good debate about health care on the Daily Show between Jon Stewart and noted conservative William Kristol of the New York Times. The interview was so long that they couldn’t show all of it within the allotted time for the show, so I had to go on-line to watch the whole thing. Afterwards, I wanted to catch up on any new developments of the issue from today; how were the negotiations going in Congress, were the conservative blue dog Democrats still holding firm, etc. In my search for this information I turned to CNN. My television guide showed me that Campbell Brown’s program was on at the moment, so I became confident that I’d get what I was looking for. After all, Brown is a good reporter who usually delivers the facts without much personal bias. Not long after the commercial break ended and the program returned did it take for me to become extremely pissed off. Not only was Campbell Brown not talking about health care, but she wasn’t talking about any sort of important political issue at all! Instead the story was that the Los Angeles police and the DEA raided Michael Jackson’s doctor’s office in search of evidence. “WTF mate!”

Let’s set one thing straight here. I am one of the biggest Michael Jackson fans you will ever meet. From the age of 3 years old, I carried around my little Fisher Price stereo and played cassettes of Off the Wall and Thriller, memorizing each song without fail. Michael Jackson not only introduced me to the magic and creativity of music, but he showed me that it could also be a powerful force for change with songs like “Heal the World” and “Will You Be There.” I have every single song Michael Jackson ever released in my iTunes library. I also have a poster of the cover of his album Dangerous, with his autograph in the upper right hand corner. The man was a musical genius and I will always be mesmerized by his ability. You get the point…

The King of Pop died on June 25th, 2009. Today is July 28th, 2009. There is not a single reason, absolutely zero, why a self-respecting news channel should be running a story having anything to do with Michael Jackson over a month after his death during prime time (at least until the toxicology reports come in). Not when our country is in the midst of a shaky financial recovery. Not when our younger generations have a very expensive financial situation in their future, and can’t even get a job at the moment. Particularly not when serious health care reform has a real chance of coming to fruition for the first time since Hilary Clinton gave it a go! As a friend who took playing Halo way too seriously once yelled at me through his microphone, “This ain’t no game! This is real mothafuckin’ life!” For the past couple of weeks all I’ve seen on the news are stupid, sensational stories about Michael Jackson, John & Kate plus 8, and this “controversy” over President Obama characterizing a police officer’s stupid actions as being just that, stupid. Of all the important conversations we need to have in this country at this critical time, we’re talking about completely useless and frivolous nonsense!

Don’t take this the wrong way. I understand that there’s all types of news; entertainment, sports, financial, world, etc. However, there are dozens of channels on television tailored to each of these specific categories. When I want to get my sports news for the day I go to ESPN, not CNN. That’s the way it should be, and it should be that way across the board. A terrible chill goes down my spine when I go to cnn.com and see headlines that read “‘Bachelorette’ Jillian Harris makes her pick” and “Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush call it quits.” You can go to the website for People magazine and find out this information, that’s what they as a news source cover and no one expects them to cover anything else. The fact that such ridiculousness is now commonplace at CNN disturbs me even more so because I can’t think of any other 24/7 new channel that at least portrays itself as attempting to be fair to all sides. I can’t watch MSNBC because it’s all liberal talking points, and I can’t watch FOXNews because it’s all conservative (and seemingly demented) talking points. You know that’s exactly what you’re going to get when you turn to those channels so why even watch? All it’s doing is reinforcing your current opinion, not challenging it. That’s the problem I have; the news is supposed to present the story not so that it coddles you into believing what you already thought to be so, but in reporting the facts so that you are challenged to reaffirm your stance in face of those facts.

Everything is about entertainment and sensationalism now, it’s as if no one cares about substance or objectivity. I wish I lived during Walter Cronkite’s hay-day. With his recent passing, everyone and their mother has lauded him with praise for his amazing ability to do his job with deliberateness and honesty. He was the most trusted man in America because of these qualities, and clearly is dearly missed by his colleagues and contemporaries. I will never know what it’s like to have such a person deliver the news to me. In my life, I can’t think of a single television news anchor (other than Dan Rather, who was fired for doing his job) that embodies even half of the qualities Cronkite held. The best anchor I can think of right now is Brian Williams. He is certainly a good news anchor in that he delivers the story in a clear and understandable manner, but I’ve never seen him grill a politician on an important question. When I watch Campbell Brown discuss issues of actual importance, she certainly gives her best effort to give all sides of the story a fair representation. When I watch Chuck Todd ask tough questions during Presidential news conferences, it seems as though he’s looking more for a sensational response instead of a fair one, trying to create a story rather than reporting it. Of course it’s not only news anchors and journalists who are responsible for th
e decline in quality. Producers choose the stories that their anchors will discuss, they themselves have become less concerned with important stories and more worried about demographic ratings.

So I find it sad that in turning from Comedy Central to CNN, I was turning to a lower quality of journalism. I mean, Comedy Central has only two “news” programs on each day, CNN is an all news, all the time channel. Yet, today I learned a great deal more about the important issue of health care by watching Comedy Central than I did by watching CNN. It’s no wonder why Jon Stewart is now the “most trusted man in America,” he has interesting guests and talks about pertinent issues. The rest of his journalistic colleagues are all too concerned about entertainment value and have clearly become lost in hollywood…
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Now playing: System of a Down – Lost in Hollywood
via FoxyTunes

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