Marolt: Peace on Earth, good riddance to FOX News
I was thinking about what I really want for Christmas. I’ve pretty much played out the old peace on Earth request over the past few decades without much satisfaction. I guess if it’s not available on Black Friday at a steep discount then I shouldn’t hold out hope of getting it, especially if it can’t be exchanged if it turns out to be less satisfying then expected or I happen to get two of the same.
This year I’m switching it up a little and putting in a more reasonable request that I might have a chance of getting. You know the cable companies are scrambling and offering all kinds of big discounts to keep existing customers and lure new ones. This gave me my idea for something other than the myth of peace, which requires decency in politics, which in turn makes the whole idea a myth predicated on a wish which then makes it a virtual impossibility.
This year my Christmas wish is to make cable television worth watching. This can only be accomplished by abolishing cable news. I’m not just talking about FOX News, either. I’m talking the whole nine yards — CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, all investigative news shows like “60 Minutes” and “20/20,” any local news programs more than a half-hour long including weather, business and sports, all investigative reporting, and any other kind of announcement running across the top or bottom of the television screen that begins with the words “alert,” “warning,” or “breaking story.”
You have to admit the world would be a better place without human suffering edited into entertainment and isolated tragedy continually embellished into imminent threats.
It became clear to me after the World Trade Center attacks. In the ensuing weeks I became addicted to the updates associated with the horrific event. As if the facts of the day were not sufficient enough to hold our attention and release our hearts to the victims, the cable television news outlets seemed to always have new information to make it worse than our own minds could imagine so that compassion and sadness were not enough. We needed more than private contemplation and prayer. Mourning was given short shrift.
The cable news outlets figured out that we had to be terrified for our own safety in order to keep us tuned in. They hooked the country on a fantasy of fear so that we had to continually check in with them to see where the next bomb would explode or the most virulent strain of biological destruction would be unleashed. With vivid descriptions of the havoc anthrax would wreak on our central nervous systems before agonizingly killing us, they had us hooked.
The on-air talent that the news stations employed were not so much better at reporting the facts as their true talents were in creativity, psychology and marketing. They became the pushers of perpetual peril and pimps of propaganda.
The new managed news strategy worked so well with human suffering that we now witness it working its magic in politics every time we turn on the tube. FOX will convince you that liberals want to destroy the country. MSNBC does the same about conservatives. For the most part the average person can’t see this prevalent threat of evil for themselves or we simply can’t believe it, so we must turn on the television to get the proof in measured doses. It’s out there. We don’t want to be uninformed, do we? Tune in for updates around the clock.
The minute you begin to doubt yourself and start to think that most of us are just average folks trying to make our livings and take care of our families, we get headlined and alerted to tune back in and see that this is just a lapse in judgment, a moment of weakness the opposition will eventually take advantage of. Don’t you care? Aren’t you a patriot? Do you have any idea what the other side is plotting? They are coming after you! It’s a gigantic conspiracy, but we don’t see the cigar smoke through the mirrored windows in cable news outlet executives’ offices.
Of all the things on television we worry about — partial nudity, strong adult language, brief sequences of explicit violence and Sponge Bob Square Pants — the threat that is truly rotting our brains is being sold as edification that will keep us informed. For this we pay the premium for expanded cable. This year give me peace on Earth and good riddance to FOX News.
Roger Marolt thinks a short attention span might be the antidote for CSPAN. email@example.com
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