Friday, August 26, 2005

24 Hour News?

It should come as no surprise that when I watch cable news, I watch Fox. (Although for my money the best news on T.V. is the News Hour on P.B.S.)

I am sure what I am about to write applies to CNN viewers and the 173 people who watch MSNBC as well.

The "newsotainment" shows are absolutely risible. A particular form of journalistic train wreck is Greta Van Sustern of Fox, who apparently thinks that the entirety of Western Civilization rests on the fate of a missing American in Aruba. (You may remember Van Sustern when she was with CNN before famously spending a considerable amount of money on a face lift and then going to work for Fox. She would have gotten more out of that money had she set it on fire for warmth.)

Equally disturbing is that Van Sustern has done exceedingly well in the ratings since her obsession with the missing girl, Natalee Holloway. As a believer in free markets, let me say that this fact keeps me awake at night.

A modest proposal: The next time you are in line at the grocery store, ask the person behind you if they know the name of the girl missing in that island in the Caribbean. After they answer that question, ask them who the Chairman of the Federal Reserve is. The proportion of correct answers to the former and latter should keep you awake at night as well.

There was a time, prior to 9/11, when Americans had the luxury of not needing to know a whole lot about the world around them. A time for the trivial, banal, the ephemeral. A time, in short, made for Maureen Dowd. That time has past.

The 24 hour news channels might want to consider devoting a few hours in the day to news.


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