I was all set to pen a scathing narrative on the deterioration of daytime news shows. It would've been a doozy; while watching the Today Show on mute at the gym this AM, inundated by the crispness of Matt Lauer's suit and the brightly-patterned dresses of the new Meredith-VieirAnn-Curry and the impressively wobbling jowls of Al Roker, the next thing that struck me was the absurdity of the headlines. Here were some of them, in consecutive order: "Are Cooking Shows Making You Fat?" followed by a montage of Giada and Rachael and Ina and Guy braising, roasting, searing, frying all number of fish and fowl, a parade of decadence and gluttony, the American dream, sponsored by Nexium. Here I think an Al Bundyism would be apt: "It's not the dress that makes you look fat; it's the fat." Next up: "The Dangers of Free Wi-Fi!" Oh, brother. And then, coming up after the break: "It's Payback Time!" accompanying a clip of Roker and Lauer in full bondage attire, going about their business because of some bet they lost with Ellen? I have no idea. But I really didn't need to see Al Roker sporting leather hot pants while he jowled about the weather.
The complaint that the mainstream news media has sold out for ratings is a tale as old as time. Of course it's all sensationalist nonsense now. Of course there's a bias. Of course the BBC is our only hope for objective, well-researched journalism (for now, but that might also be changing). My plaintive missive on the topic would have been no different. Sure, there would have been a brief call-to-arms, a rallying cry for the masses to boycott the ridiculous headlines and demand real news stories. "This aggression will not stand, man." But ultimately the bent would have been defeatist.
There are those at the top, those who perch above the fray and dictate the course of the information and entertainment we receive. They are the tastemakers, a nebulous group of obviously white men who are probably a hybrid of Jack Donaghy and the Koch brothers. When it comes to daytime news, they dole out fluff pieces in generous dollops. Everyone is up to date on Kim Kardashian's fertility issues while our collective awareness of Syria grows ever murkier. I once read that a hit song doesn't become a hit because the public listens to it a lot; the public listens to a hit song because it is a hit. That is to say that the song's "hit" status has already been determined by the powers that be, and like lemmings we accept our fate, too petrified to consider being "other".
Was that sensationalist enough for you?
Anyway, I would have written a passionate article about how news media is an indicator species of our culture's inevitable decline and fall, but I got frustrated with updating my events page (and ultimately gave up on it altogether, so, sorry, you'll have to wait awhile for new concert dates) and all I could dredge up was this bit of snark that, ironically, by journalistic standards would not even pass muster on the likes of the Today Show.