Which came first, idiocy in the news media, or in the populace? That chicken and egg question has come up many times in my social circle, and we never really resolve it. There seems to be a weekly distraction that bumps virtually every valid news story off the air, on all the news channels. Is the news media inherently ridiculous, or is the public stupid, and really just love this stuff?
Our latest news-hole (no pun intended), is every action or inaction made or not made by Paris Hilton. She is only the latest in a very long series of these news-suckers (again, no pun intended). We've had Chandra Levy (not her fault, of course), O. J. Simpson, Britney Spears, Robert Blake, Natalee Halloway, Jon Benet, and of course the budding romance between Natalee's Mom and Jon Benet's Dad. How sweet! If they adopt Anna Nicole's baby, it will be a tabloid trifecta!
It does seem with the latest one-two-three punch of Anna Nicole's death, Britney's breakdown, and Paris goes to jail, that we are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Excepting Britney's very limited vocal talent, these women are basically famous for being famous. This used to be a role inhabited by Zsa Zsa Gabor or Charo. And hey, at least they had those wacky accents! How did this group of "celebutards" (thanks, Stephanie Miller!) become more important than actual world and national affairs?
News of Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace's resignation was cut off to bring us the essential footage of Paris leaving her house, and getting in her car to go to court. On MSNBC, you could actually hear someone screaming in the background on the set, either in urgency or disgust, I'm not sure which.
The news media has always been attracted to bright sparkly objects. But you'd think with three 24-hour news channels, you'd get more news. Paradoxically, we get less. The news media seems completely unable to focus on ANY important news anymore. The Anna Nicoles and Parises somehow manage to eclipse virtually everything else, except during those perfect storms when more than one celebutard does something off the wall. Has anyone noticed that MSNBC and FOX "news" actually interrupt their programs every hour or so--for news breaks? It's kind of like when MTV interrupts programming to show us some music.
I remember when the tabloids first crossed over to television. There was a horde of programs like Hard Copy, Inside Edition and A Current Affair (hosted by, surprise, Bill O'Reilly). These shows were somewhere between Entertainment Tonight and The Jerry Springer Show. But nobody confused them with NEWS. And yet somehow, all of the news networks decide to shovel this shizz at us, and then claim it's what we want. It is? Am I the only person who leaps for the remote whenever there is a Paris story on?
There has to be a market for REAL NEWS. If MSNBC really wants to set itself apart, and finally get out of third place, maybe Dan Abrams should give the whole network a make over. Save celeb gossip and news for short stinger segments at the end of the program (like Keith Olbermann's Countdown often does). If it's a huge story, like Linday Lohan cut off her leg because she likes the pirate look--mention it, give the details, and move on. Focus on the big stuff that happened in the world. If you must have commentary shows, comment on important stuff, not "Rosie Vs. the Donald" garbage. I'll bet MSNBC would catapult to first, and it would set such an example. I can't believe I'm the only one sick of all the tripe.