Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pure Drivel

As one strategy in its desperate struggle for survival, the Boston Globe has a 50% interest in a free tabloid that's distributed at mass transit stations, called the Metro. It's an itty-bitty newspaper, with a front page headline, a couple of pages of news stories inside, columnists, sports, comics, astrology, but all completely digestible between Forest Hills and Downtown Crossing. Today's screaming, front page headline, and sole front page story? "Jon and Kate hit the heights of hypocrisy!"

I have no idea who the fuck Jon and Kate are, and I'm pretty sure that if I did know, their hypocrisy, of whatever degree, would be of no interest to me. But evidently I'm a weirdo.

According to today's NYT, former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista is now the main talking head on the Onion News:

Ms. Battista said she initially had qualms about how joining The Onion would be perceived by former colleagues. “It occurred to me that some would say, ‘Oh, how the mighty have fallen,’ ” she said. “I thought about that, but I said, ‘Hey, why not?’ ” She also considered her (low) opinion of the state of cable news today and saw that the space between real and fake news was shrinking.

“You watch the news today, and you don’t know what is real,” she said. “When I was doing newscasts at CNN, people would come up to me and say, ‘That story can’t be real.’ Now the lines are really getting blurred.” She mentioned a recent segment she saw about “lingerie football” on a cable news show. “My mouth was hanging open. How does this belong on the news?”

To be honest, it doesn't bother me so much that they devote a certain amount of space to stupid stuff. I actually enjoyed Tanya and Nancy, Joey Buttafuoco, and Lorena Bobbit.* Of course, I lost my ability to enjoy crap like that during the Cheney administration, but I might be able to get it back now. Unfortunately, it's not the oddball stories and celebrity scandals that are the problem with corporate media today, it's their total incompetence at covering stuff that's actually important. They have no inclination to distinguish between truth and lies. Whether they have the ability or not I do not know but I suspect they don't. Why should they bother to cultivate it? Reporting doesn't mean actually learning about a subject, it just means writing down what somebody says aboutit -- not somebody selected for expertise, but rather someone sought out intentionally for partisanship, even extremism.

Even the BBC has deteriorated to this point. Driving home on Saturday I listened to a BBC special on health care reform in the U.S. Who do they get as the main discussant, and give the last word on everything? A spinal surgeon from Florida who is there to represent the AMA, and who spewed a continual torrent of lies for 20 minutes without the slightest hint of a correction from anyone. A reporter asked him, "But aren't there big differences in health care spending depending on region?" and he just answered no, that's a myth. There are places where there are lots of old people who need knee surgery, for example, and spending may be higher because needs are different, but that doesn't mean costs are higher. And she just sat there and took it -- maybe because she doesn't actually know any better, maybe because she doesn't think it's her job to call the guest a liar. But he is a liar, and that's a fact, and facts ought to be reported.

*This guy goes to a bar and he picks up Tanya Harding, Lorena Bobbit, and Hillary Clinton, and takes them all home for a gang bang. When he wakes up in the morning, his pecker is gone, both his kneecaps are broken, and the worst part is . . . he doesn't have any health insurance.

Update: Should be read aloud from every pulpit in the land this Sunday.

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