There’s a lot of hand-wringing in some precincts, or parishes if you’re in Louisiana, I guess, about Rachel Maddow semi-retiring from her weeknight show on MSNBC. Now, before I begin, I want to make clear I’m not criticizing her per se. Well, I’m not JUST doing that. I’m using her as a representative of prime time pundit cable shows.
I also concede science hasn’t yet devised an instrument that can measure how little a crap she or her millions of fans care about my views on anything, let alone her. Just so we’re clear, I’m clear on how clearly uninterested any of these parties (and perhaps more than a few readers) clearly don’t care about my views.
I Come Not To Bury Ms. Maddow Or Her Peers
Rather, I’m here to bemoan (I love a good bemoaning on occasion) the toxic conversion of news cable prime time to the pursuit of making you feel good about your opinions.
Ms. Maddow is exceptionally bright. And I almost always find my political views align with hers. That’s actually part of the problem. Someone posted recently her shows were the last of the great public squares for serious, high-minded debates. To which I say, exactly what is ever debated on her show? Or most others?
Our Opponent Was Unable To Make It Tonight As We Didn’t Invite Them
Her shows bring on virtually no one who isn’t eager to ratify whatever she’s saying. At least that’s the way it was for years. Maybe that’s changed. A few used to make a half-hearted attempts to do so, like having Rick Santorum on CNN, but they obviously decided the ratings were better without the tedium of interrupting self-congratulation with other opinions.
I agree with Ms. Maddow 99.9% of the time, but I would like to hear on occasion from a countervailing argument. None of these shows do that. They educate you (perhaps) inasmuch as they give you facts that support the beliefs you (and I) started the show with.
Sometimes there IS no rational counter argument, especially these last few years, but like I said, the organizing principle for the pundit based programs isn’t so much to challenge our ideas as makes us feel good about the ones we have already and feed those delicious little sanctimony pellets (I’ll bet you can’t eat just one) many of us (myself included) have become addicted to.
Please Don’t Humor Me. Seriously, I’m Begging You
I don’t need humor in my shows, but I wish someone would have lovingly pulled aside Ms, Maddow and told her people aren’t tuning in for her snappy one-liners. There are few things more tiresome to me than people who are convinced they are funny and are wrong. She’s not within an affordable cab ride of funny.
Then there is her need to delay and delay and delay, occasionally peppering in a tangent or two before getting to the point. Nine times out of ten this is due to the need to fill time rather than provide relative context: “Let’s get into McConnell’s brazen misuse of power to stop Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, which means, to really understand what’s going on, we need to talk about the European powers’ control of the opium trade in 19th century China, The Whiskey Rebellion, and Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps.”
I Come Not To Bury Ms. Maddow And Her Cohorts, But I’m Open To Pettily Bitching About Them
Most of all, pretty much all the CNN/MSNBC (I won’t even consider Fox, obviously) pundit shows are by definition corrosive. They make my blood boil by pointing out egregious wrongs (which, let’s not kid ourselves, is the raison d’etre of all of these shows) and they only have people to on who agree with them.
If you and others like her (and there are millions who do), I’ve no problems with that. I just find these shows – and indeed, that’s what they are, shows – dangerously eager to make you feel better about everything you already believed when you tuned in.
My Point, At Last!
These shows are not a discourses. That’s not their business model. And man oh man, it is a business.
They’re indignation dispensaries. And increasingly, most of us (me too) have become hooked.