Saturday, November 11, 2006

Eejits in your living room

I happened to catch Soledad O’Brian interviewing my new Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, on CNN. Here’s a question she asked (I’m quoting from memory):

“It’s pretty certain that Nancy Pelosi will be the Speaker of the House. Now, she’s a liberal with a capital L, from San Francisco—I lived there for many years. Do you think this will be a problem?”

Questions like this, which are very common nowadays on TV news, illustrate the complete inanity of the pseudo-journalists and anchors on these major networks. First of all, what does “liberal with a capital L” mean? I guess the implication is that it’s far left, or farther left than most liberals, but one can’t be sure. The idea that mainstream liberals like Pelosi are somehow beyond the pale is so disconnected from reality that it’s almost impossible to know how to respond to such rubbish. One can marvel that an idiot like O’Brian gets to ask questions on TV, but it’s not as if she’s unique.

The fact that Pelosi is from San Francisco is supposed to mean something negative too. Right-wingers talk about San Francisco and Massachusetts as if the politics they hate is a matter of geography. But then O’Brian adds the breathtakingly irrelevant fact that she lived in San Francisco for many years. Who cares? No one should, but the point is that Soledad O’Brian thinks that she’s somebody, that she’s part of the news rather than someone who just reports it, and that therefore it’s important that she lived in San Francisco. There’s also the implication that her residence in San Francisco confers expert status on her regarding the political nature of this city, and of Pelosi. Well, you know, I lived in New Jersey for twenty years, so I guess that makes me an expert on that state. If CNN wants to interview Robert Menendez, they should definitely call me.

Finally, I’m not sure what “problem” O’Brian might be referring to. Is liberalism just an inherent problem, like a disease one must overcome in order to govern? Has right-wing ideology ever been framed as an inherent problem, or is it assumed to be the norm? I think you know the answer to that.

Giffords said “No,” and then wisely sidestepped the whole thing by talking about issues. She might not have even noticed how stupid and insulting her interviewer is. I don’t know. But the groundless self-regard of these anchors and other vacuous talking heads who style themselves TV personalities creates a smothering effect on the news. You can be sure that if you get most of your news from TV, you’re most likely getting it filtered through a fool.

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