Monday, November 13, 2006

I Couldn't Agree More

I was too wrapped up in other stuff to blog about Matt Taibbi's well-circulated look at "the Worst Congress Ever"—a must-read if you haven't—but at least I get to give a nod to his election night memoirs:
Our national political press is narrowly focused, schooled in inch-deep analysis, and completely results-obsessed. It's a huge and expensive mechanism bedecked with every conceivable bell and whistle (did anyone else catch the giant cyber-globe display frantically spinning behind Anderson Cooper's head? I thought I was going to have an aneurysm) and designed to roam the intellectual range of a chimpanzee. It also has no sense of humor. When the Daily Show spoofed the networks with its "Midterm Midtacular," dragging the venerable Dan Rather out and coaxing a scripted piece of instant "homespun" analysis out of him (he said Hillary Clinton ran away with her race like "a hobo with a sweet potato pie"), the real journalists freaked out. Joe Scarborough led a panel of experts who denounced the show as not that funny; one guest compared Rather's bit to Muhammad Ali's crudely scripted appearances on Diff'rent Strokes, saying it was "awkward."

The reality is that Stewart's array of grotesquely pointless special effects and intentionally buffoonish commentary is an improvement on the real thing, and the real thing is an accurate reflection of our actual politics. Which means, basically, that we're fucked, stuck in an endless cycle of retarded lottery coverage -- 300 million people watching a bunch of half-bright millionaires in ties guess the next number to come out of the chute. I hope we're all insane. Otherwise, what's our excuse?

I actually caught some of that lame Scarborough discussion thanks to Crooks and Liars. It is a damn shame that you can learn more of critical value from watching a couple of damn comedy shows than you can from watching countless hours of CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc., I agree; in a sane culture, however, this would be grounds for a searching reappraisal of how the corporate media does business rather than for pointless tsk-tsking about whether comics are straying off their reservation. Of course, I won't be holding my breath waiting for such a searching reappraisal from Scarborough and his ilk anytime soon.

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