Info-tainers Faking Journalism

San Jose, CA – The Almost Daily Binx, V.A. Caminiti

It was Sunday night and the sunset was the backdrop for some light reading and a cocktail before deciding what to do for dinner.   We opted for light fare and decided to watch (or at least skim through) some of the Sunday morning news talk that we had recorded.  This was not a good idea nor a particularly good digestive aid.

All the News that's fit to miss

All the News that's fit to miss

First up was Meet the Press with David Gregory.  Mr. Gregory is one of those that seem afflicted with inappropriate facial expressions – a Monty Python sketch if ever there was.  I’m hopeful this is not a medical condition but rather a bout of conscience taking place while he’s interviewing.  In the latest episode of this veteran info-tainer’s race away from journalism, Gregory squandered an opportunity to ask President Obama important and relevant questions in place of positing ridiculous mis-quotes and strange conclusions, yet managing to intone an interrogative.   Not only is it distracting, it truly becomes bizarre when Gregory starts suppressing a sardonic smile mid-question as he trolls the waters of conversation trying to get the President to bite on the racism bait.  Obama won’t and Gregory and his ilk are determined to get him to bite – because – there is big media money in racism.

More disturbing though is the casual nature in which Gregory approaches speaking to the President of the United States.  One would believe it to be a talk show with the President hawking a book – instead of a Network News broadcast featuring a very lucky reporter getting to ask the President some tough questions.  And to that end, this is the thrust of my objection.  How could you waste an interview with the President of the United States with such terrible, ill prepared questions ??  How could you squander the opportunity to ask follow-up questions in a one-on-one interview ??  Was this about you and your career ??  Was this about you and your media exposure ??

Regrettably, I fear the answer is obvious – that’s Info-tainment.  Following the interview was Minority Leader Boehner and Sen Lindsey Graham with a further explanation that no racism exists in the USA – a particularly poignant claim more believable from the heavily bronzed Boehner than the pasty South Carolinian – both of whom claim no connection to the wing-nuttery of their national party chairman who has been repeatedly hurling undignified insults at the President.

After the Gregory botched opportunity it was time to check out George Stephanopoulos’ interviewing skills.  It didn’t seem possible that Gregory would have competition for the worst squandered moment in interview history but George managed to do it.  Repeated questions about the President’s critics instead of the President’s vision.

Stephanopoulos, though, managed to take it to a new low by repeatedly

Please begin to answer my question so I can interrupt you ...

Please begin to answer my question so I can interrupt you ...

interrupting the President of the United States, like an impatient pooch that wants to go out and chew on the mailman.  To top off this unpleasant departure from journalism, Stephanopoulos began to sound annoyed that President wasn’t biting on his tabloid-styled interrogatives – clearly meant to create ‘sound bites’  for the ideologues to surf like the Big Kahuna rather than a genuine examination of President Obama’s vision and detailed challenging questions thereof.

The constant interruptions were handled with aplomb by the President, although at times, he seemed as shocked as me as to just how shallow and misleading the questions were to the central burning points.  Not a single question about the mechanisms of finance as it pertains to health care; not a single challenge as to the actual philosophies that drive the reform; not a single solitary follow- up question.  Just sound-bitey stuff from an uncomfortable twitchy and squirmy info-tainer who believes his mother’s claim that he’s the smartest boy in the world.   Another wasted opportunity that any journalism major, irrespective of stripe, would have ventured their eye-teeth to score.

Following the non-interview interview of President Obama came the round table discussion with Stephanopoulos, George Will, Peggy Noonan, Bob Reich, Ed Gillespie and Donna Brazile.  Viewers were treated to the political framing of info-tainer George Will, now unable to contain his dyspepsia in the feeling that his conservative  banner has been stolen by wing-nuts and his career decision to disagree with any Liberal thought, even if it proves to be a good idea.

Let's make funny faces while the others talk.

Let's make funny faces while the others talk.

The others all chimed-in throughout the limited broadcast with their team song – however Peggy Noonan is hell bent on staying in the headlines.  In this episode, she decided she would characterize the President as being boorish in his attempts to use the media to advance Health care.  But if that wasn’t strange enough, Noonan erupted into a series of head-nodding, eye exercises and the oddest facial expressions while Reich was taking his turn. However, the topper was when she began moving her lips as other’s were talking.  Now, certainly if this were the result of Tourettes or some other medical disorder, we’d know, after all the woman seeks these public appearances for compensation.  My guess though, is that she’s just about completely made the transition into the happy place where journalists who have decided to sell-out and become part of the problem and work the media financial turbine as info-tainers.  Plus the fact, there’s ample circumstantial observations that she’s just plain nuts.

No follow-up questions ??  Is this possible.  Certainly.  This isn’t journalism.  Journalists have follow-ups.  These are info-tainers.  They have a tickler list and essentially aren’t doing any listening – just talking.  Alex Trebeck delivers more probative value when he introduces the contestants on Jeopardy than Gregory or Stephanopoulos.

Well, why stop there … as long as this stroll down info-tainment lane has already proved to be quite an appetite suppressant, let’s give Fox a whirl just to see what the co-creators of info-tainment are up to.  No surprise here, including vignettes from  the recent past.  Earlier in the week Bill O’Reilly decried he was being quoted improperly and illegitimately by the Left, who were spreading rumors that he allegedly broad-casted support of a public option.  Of course, after listening and relistening to the segment of his broadcast that allegedly contained the misinformation – O’Reilly clearly said he was for a public option. It is indisputable – that is what he said – yet – he’s disputing it.  Now it’s party time because Up is not only Up it is also Down in O’Reillyville.

Why is everybody always pick'n on me?

Why is everybody always pick'n on me?

Next, Fox News Sunday – where Chris Wallace, who’s been taking pot shots at Obama since before the inauguration; and recently permitted Sean Hannity to outright lie when he purposefully and willfully mis-characterized the President’s words on a Speech that Fox declined to carry –  whined and whined and whined that the White House didn’t agree to any Fox interviews.

Mr. Wallace has adopted a strategy that some of my relatives used to advance; whereby the bizarre behavior of an insulting avuncular figure was attributed to his affection for the object of his abuse.  So considering this barely conceivable shard of behavioral detritus, Chris Wallace is furious that the President isn’t returning his calls with love and has been throwing a temper tantrum for at least three days.

Add to the Fox line-up an array of characters that could form their own comic book  genre, former disgraced Clinton administration adviser Dick Morris – losing his breath screeching anti-Obama remarks irrespective of the logic or lack thereof; the very indictable Karl Rove – apparently in a parallel universe; and the sad-eyed Britt Hume – who mastered speaking while clearing his throat through an entire broadcast.  A line-up dedicated to disgracing Americans around the world with unprecedented interference and engagement in promoting dissonance and dishonesty in reporting and actually creating news events.  That’s info-tainment !!!