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Do We Really Need News?

When I was a kid, which of course was before most Americans had TV sets, the one news show that everybody watched was ‘Meet the Press’ on NBC-TV, which Grandpa started watching in the early 1950’s and I sometimes tuned in when Tim Russert was the moderator until he dropped dead in 2008.

Now the show is hosted by Chuck Todd, who NBC says has a “unique ability to deliver razor-sharp analysis and infectious enthusiasm.”

How about delivering content that even slightly resembles reality these days? If what Todd said yesterday about Trump’s ‘hold’ over the GOP is really serious, than reality is the further thing away from Todd’s mind.

The show was about the decision by an Ohio Republican Congressman, Anthony Gonzalez, to not seek a third term. He was one of those really bad people who voted to impeach Trump. And now he’s decided not to take on one of Trump’s former staffers, Max Miller, in a primary election next May.

The disappearance of Gonzalez was touted by Todd as proof that Trump still holds the decisive leadership position in the GOP, with polls showing that only one-third of registered Republicans hold Trump responsible for what happened on January 6th in D.C.

You should know, incidentally, that further proof of Trump’s strength, according to Todd, was Saturday’s demonstration to ‘free’ all those political prisoners, an event which even Todd had to admit only drew about 100 patriots to a grassy spot somewhere between the Capitol and the Mall.

Todd then went on to give his viewers some examples of how Trump remains in the center of things, noting that what he says is then echoed by other GOP luminaries such as – ready? – Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, both of whom could easily be gone and forgotten by next year. Abbott’s polling has sunk to an all-time low and now he’s facing a serious challenger from Beto O’Rourke. As for DeSantis, forget DeSantis. Last week Florida set a record for daily Covid-19 deaths for the fifth straight week in a row.

None of what I just said above was mentioned or even hinted at by Todd. After all, the point of his show is to prop Trump up, not tear him down. The only problem with this approach is that it hardly aligns with the facts.

Know how mid-term elections are always bad for the majority party? Right now, the Democrats hold a 44.3 to 43.0 edge over the GOP in Congressional polls, and this is following what happened in Afghanistan before, during and after we split. Quinnipiac, which has always been the most consistently accurate polling operation, has the blue team up by 4 points, 47 to 43. That’s so bad just when the 2022 election cycle is getting into gear?

But when all is said and done, I can’t blame Chuck Todd and other fake news personalities from pushing stories about Donald Trump that are made up out of nothing more than whole cloth. Imagine what it would take to watch Mitch McConnell stand up in front of an audience for an hour and a half. Or think about a non-stop reading of the Declaration of Independence by Rand Paul or Ted Cruz.

The point is that on a daily basis, if not more frequently, all these Republican wannabees commit what my dear, late friend Jimmy Breslin would call the biggest crime that any politician can ever commit – they are bores. They are just as boring as all get out.

On the other side, at least with Joe we can hope that he’ll flub a few words or maybe take a little nap. Evidently, he dozed off at some point during a meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu but who can really blame him for doing that?

When Trump first began campaigning in 2015, his vulgarity and racism was actually refreshing, if only because he was clearly trying to entertain rather than inform. In fact, the people who came to his rallies seemed much more interested in chanting ‘lock her up’ and booing every mention of CNN than they

In the ‘olden’ days, TV was entertainment – comedies and quiz shows – and was driven by ratings and audience share. News was considered a public service presented by the networks in half-hour or hour segments for the local stuff, followed by another 30 minutes for the big, national stories and maybe one or two reports from overseas. This all changed in the 1980’s with the advent of cable and the ultimate demise of free TV.

Once pay-for-view cable became the dominant architecture for transmitting ideas, which then morphed into wireless technologies which carry more advertising than any entertainment or news programming of any kind, people like Chuck Todd are no longer just competing against other so-called electronic journalists, they are also up against Facebook, Instagram and every other app which can be downloaded to your droid or iPhone.

As stupid and shallow as Todd and the other electronic spielers tend to be, I’m actually somewhat surprised that they are even trying to deliver any electronic news content at all. When you have a public figure like Donald Trump who views electronic communications as just another technology to build a brand, you’re not competing against objective reporting of real events, you’re going up against an advertising campaign whose sole purpose is to bring in the bucks.

Maybe what we really need is to drop the word ‘news’ and replace it with the word ‘noise.’ Because that’s what we have been getting from Trump for the last five years, and that’s how the fake news media has been responding to everything he says.

The good news about 'noise' is that you can always switch it off.

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