The News Wednesday Night: Knowing Hillary, Channeling Ron Burgundy and Counting Electric Sheep
Is it more appropriate to say a nightly network TV news program’s Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent has “known” or “reported on” the sitting Secretary of State for years? And if the word “known” is used instead of the phrase ‘reported on,’ doesn’t that reveal a sense of familiarity between journalist and diplomat that would be inappropriate, even potentially leading to favoritism?
Well, that’s what ABC World News Tonight anchor Diane Sawyer did to correspondent Martha Raddatz tonight. So, either Sawyer inaccurately described Raddatz’s relationship with Hillary Clinton — and let’s hope she did — or Raddatz has a glaring conflict of interest.
There’s also the conspiracy theory angle: Sawyer was, yet again, boasting about the comfortable media-industrial-government complex within which Diane and Raddatz thrive. This theory suggests a complicity that makes it easy for President George W. Bush to convince Americans of Saddam’s WMD, and Obama’s flawless drone policy.
But that’s only a silly conspiracy theory. We all know it’s not a complex. It’s simply the way of doing business in 21st century America. Man, that line is gonna look great in a 23rd century history book. That is, if there is a 21st century and it still has a history and books.
ABC World News Tonight and the other national network TV news programs — CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News — all report on the US announcing that servicewomen will now be allowed to fight in combat roles, and Hillary Clinton’s separate heated hearings with Congress and the Senate over the Benghazi consulate killings. NBC reporter Mrs. Alan Greenspan only shows one Democrat’s comments after showing at least a dozen Republicans tearing Hillary a new asshole. Look, I know that ‘fair and balanced’ is not a substitute for objectivity and is a shitty way to approach journalism. But what the fuck! Was Andrea Mitchell not invited to Martha Raddazt’s and Hillary’s tea party?
On CBS, reporter Anthony Mason reports from the World Economic Forum. ABC and NBC completely skip the WEF. Mason tells us that the world economy is turning around after the financial crisis, but there are a couple of problems. The first is that “the world fears the United States’ political risk to the economy.” Let me translate: everybody’s sick and fucking tired of this debt ceiling, fiscal cliff bullshit, and if the US keeps it up, the world economy’s gonna find somewhere else to invest. The second problem facing the world’s economy is, Mason reports, “global warming.” Yes, Mason actually said the words “global warming” in a nightly nationally network TV news broadcast. Not only that, he says it twice. He quotes International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde saying that global warming could make the economy “roasted toasted, fried and grilled.”
Holy shit! A network covering the WEF and not only talking climate change but its effect on the economy! Did Obama’s words during his inauguration speech on climate change signal a tipping point for news coverage on the worldwide impact of global weirding?
CBS anchor Scott Pelley immediately does his best Ron Burgundy, joking that for Mason, who is wrapped in a spacesuit-like parka, that global warming must be “hard to imagine in cold Davos.” CBS then goes to three, count ‘em, three straight stories on the cold. Not only does CBS remind us that it’s cold outside, but they show footage of massive icicles formed by water used in fighting a huge Chicago warehouse fire, and then go all the way to the East Coast to remind us that superstorm Sandy victims are freezing, too.
That’s three cold stories to one global warming story. Even on Fox News Channel’s ‘fair and balanced’ scoreboard, global warming lost again tonight. Not mentioned, an Andean glacier’s melt was declared “unprecedented” by scientists.
Meanwhile on ABC, anchor Sawyer is talking to Katie Couric host of the cleverly named — and ABC-owned — ‘Katie’ daytime TV talk show. You just know Katie hangs with Diane, Hillary and Martha. Who wants to hang out with Andrea Mitchell anyway? She always brags how she’s married to the former Federal Reserve chair. I mean, so what. He’s all gross, old and wrinkly, y’know what I mean? Anyway, tomorrow, Katie’s airing an interview with Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame linebacker who … okay, if you don’t know yet, I don’t want to be the fucknut who told you, killing your precious brain cells with worthless information. Instead, let me tell you that dozens more Iraqis died today in their ongoing war, and reports show that the Syrian civil war is getting more viciously sectarian.
After all, none of the networks reported either of those stories tonight.
ABC smoothly segues from America’s royalty (i.e., celebrities) to the British royalty. In fact, the rest of ABC’s broadcast is nothing but celebrities. I mean, other than the clip of a dolphin being saved from entanglement within some wire and an orangutan who likes his iPad. Seriously, that was ABC’s news tonight. ABC even closed with Serena Williams losing a tennis match. There were more celebrity sightings on ABC tonight than in “Movie #43″ for fuck’s sake!
Russia warned the US and Israel against attacking Iran today. India’s telling their Kashmiri residents to brace for nuclear war. And ABC is doing celebrity news? If ABC had covered Nero burning Rome, their reports would have focused on where all the Senate would have been summering that year.
I’m sorry. It’s not appropriate to be so harsh on ABC. It musta been a slow news day and they were desperate to find material, so they went the celebrity route.
I mean, yesterday’s New York Times story, reporting India advising Kashmiris to prepare for nuclear war, is old news.
NBC runs a story on a new study showing that sleep deprivation is a bad thing. I know that’s true, but I can’t help but remember all those sleep drug ads I’ve seen on NBC, so I immediately dismiss the story. That’s what happens when you allow advertisers on your networks who may influence your content. Conflict of interest is a matter of perception, and there is no ‘firewall’ against perception.
Luckily, NBC returns to the Beyonce lip-synching scandal. Without NBC, we would have never known how Aretha Franklin felt about the scandal, as ABC and CBS didn’t do this story for some reason. However, NBC assures us that when Beyonce gives an official reaction, they’ll tell us. Who needs sleep aids when you get comforting news like that, which will certainly allow you to ease into a warm deep slumber tonight?
While ABC closed tonight with the Serena Williams tennis loss, CBS wrapped up by reporting on a chimp refuge, and NBC described a video that had gone viral of an old man helping his stroke victim wife to re-learn how to read.
Believe it or not, folks, that was tonight’s news.
And I am not joking.