Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Johann Wagener 11-19-13

The demand for pundits by cable news "shows" has skyrocketed in the last 5 years.

MSNBC, CNBC, FOX NEWS, CNN have recruited an army of retired generals, politicians, lawyers, judges, doctors, psychiatrists and a slew of other self-proclaimed experts with an excellent command on issues such as, detecting wmd's, predicting terrorist attacks, or profiling serial killers and rampaging lone gunman, just to name a few.  Though I'm not sure they have been very good at predicting these events.

Connecting these "experts' with the giants of media news, like Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnel, Wolf Spitzer, Hannity, O'Rielly, Beck, and not to forget Anderson Cooper, to name a few of the best known with the largest fan base, and you have what amounts to ???????????????????????

In-depth analysis of current or past events?

A well-rounded fair and unbiased report on issues of the day?

Just plain unbiased, un-redacted or revised  news?

Trying to answer these questions has always in a  glazed look and a full blown migraine.

I was surprised it took me so long to come up with an answer until I recently began to search for news on channels like PBS, or BBC America, or recently Al jazeera America which I am certain will get a flock of hate mail for putting those two words together in on sentence.

When I clicked on to "The News Hour with Jim Leher" what I first noticed was that it was not introduced as a "show" but rather an hour of "news" and that gave me some insight as to why I kept getting these terrible headaches looking for news on places like the "Chris Matthews Show" or "The Hannity Show"

Even though there were no disclaimers to read, it became clear to me that these were just "shows" funded and paid for by advertisers that wanted to "entertain" rather than "inform" Americans while still referring to it as news much like Colbert and Stewart.  Though I believe they disclose that's it's just "faux" news, not the real thing.

Now, I know there are many Americans that prefer being entertained rather than upset about what's going on around them. I can't say I blame them given that the planet is in "meltdown", more and more people are shooting at each other, and neo-cons are warning us that a nuclear holocaust is inevitable if Iran acquires as much as 1 nuclear device, annihilating Israel.

That scenario continues to bring on a headache because I haven't been able to figure out how Iran can drop a nuclear bomb on Israel and not have a nuclear cloud blow over them and all of their neighbors in the region. Did I miss something in physics class?

Is there a pundit out there that can explain it to me?

What I have been able to glean from my insights that all I need to do is add MSNBC,CNN, FOX and a few others of these shows to my faux news list. Problem solved.

If I'm looking to be entertained I can click on FOX  news and watch;

A medical doctor give his "expert opinion" on the Affordable Health Care Law by responding  with;

"Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is -- in a way, it is slavery, in a way," he said. "Because it is making all of us subservient to the government."

Or flipping on the Chris Matthews show to see if I can find out more about how Catholicism has affected his life or get another pitch on one of his latest books; much like O'Rielly. Or I can take in one of the visiting pundits that parrot back a revised version of the question asked.

I'm not picking on Chris by the way. I happen to be a Catholic and share many of the same opinions he has. I also like his laugh. MSNBC also is the place I can got to on weekends to watch a marathon of "behind the bars" episodes depicting life inside prison walls. Great entertainment.

I need to give some credit to CNN in their efforts to report the news even though most of the reporting is on helicopters, squad cars, or ambulances their news vans are chasing and reporting on what they "guess" is going on. I am especially impressed with the gadgets in their Command News Center.

I would also add that I have tried the "Evening News With Whoever"  on CBS,NBC, and ABC and  found what I thought was a half-hour infomercial for Cialis until the anchor reappeared to give  a "human interest" story about helping someone save a $100 on their utility bill, or to interview one of their own dressed in a parka and standing in 3 feet of water, hanging on for their dear life to a light pole while bravely giving an in-depth accounting of experiencing a Hurricane first hand while all I'm paying attention to is  how long they will be able to hang on.

I must admit they are creative in sandwiching a little news into an infomercial.

Now that I've cleared a little path here I would like to invite others to visit PBS News Hour at least once so they get a better idea of the differences between being entertained and informed and not having to fetter out the news from a pile of commercials.

Here's a sampling of what I found on the PBS News Hour.

The stage is decorated and furnished with an oval desk and a few comfortable chairs (nothing comparable to the CNN Command Center) where host(s) and guest(s) alike are seated and have a "conversation" about current news of the day.

The guests are selected from both sides of an issue and are usually well informed about both sides of the argument which allows them to have a rational debate and present their views in a coherent manner.

The host(s) who are not beholding to any advertisers, set the tone by asking a question and allowing both sides to opine for a few minutes.  If they begin to stray the host interjects something into the conversation to bring them back to the topic.

The host(s) does not interrupt by injecting their opinions stick to their roles. Even though the guest represent opposing sides there is little interruption or vitriol from either side.

When I step away from this hour of news I always find that I have picked up bits of information that are helpful in making decisions that impact my life like who I vote for, or what issue I support.

On the other hand, like many Americans I like to be entertained so now and then I'll flip on one of those news "shows" and get a few laughs and take a brief break from reality.

Being the idiot that I am I need to ask:

Do you want to be informed or just entertained when it comes to issues that impact you and your families lives?