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October 5, 2018

Vast Wasteland and the Public Interest

Harry M. Covert

The bamboozling is nothing short of rampant on what has been claimed as the public airways. Is all of the stuff flooding alleged cable news channels in the public interest? I say no.

 

As an old news dog who still reveres newspapers immensely, I still frequently comment on the free-wheeling discourses where the yappers step on comrades, or supposed equals in their interactions.

 

One talker says something and before she/he finishes the comment, alleged expert or two jumps in. Therefore confusion is supreme and they grin. The poor old viewer loses out simply because its garble, garble and more garble.

 

It was President John F. Kennedy’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Newton N. Minow, who 55 years ago said television was a “vast wasteland,” and questioned if it is in the “public interest.” Still mighty good thoughts for today.

 

At 92, I wonder if the still active telecommunications attorney is amazed at what he sees today.

 

The beauty of free speech in the USA is incredible in these perilous times. And, cable television is without any restrictions by the FCC. The commission can pressure cable companies but, other than that, the cable outlets are free to do and say whatever they want. No penalty with exception of viewers and ratings. In other words they are almost as good as newspapers. They’ll likely never be that good.

 

For weeks upon weeks and since 2016, cable news people have been unabashed at destroying President Donald Trump. Recently it has been non-stop smearing of a distinguished Supreme Court nominee.

 

I’ve been glued to the once called boob tube. The medium is awesome. It’s not only sometimes entertaining and instantly informative, but viewers are innocently and easily fooled by “non-neutral” blatherers.

 

Everybody on the cable shows are politically one-sided without equivocation.

 

The political gabbing has invaded the sports shows, too. The announcers interrupt each other constantly and viewers watching games must endure innocuous commentary of what they’ve already seen. Gosh, I miss Howard Cosell, Red Barber, Mel Allen, Vin Scully, Chuck Thompson and so many others.

 

The status of today’s teevee news shows is not pleasant. The big job seems only to persuade viewers one way or the other, good, bad and destructive.

 

Interviewers don’t like to ask questions. They prefer to express their editorial views without stop. Interviewees are at the mercy of the self-absorbed questioners.

 

The next few days will prove if the cablers are truly in the public interest.

 

Recently, Ted Turner, the entrepreneur from Georgia who founded Cable News Network (CNN), said he was concerned his “baby” had slipped too far from news reporting. His authority over the network is long gone. That’s obvious from falling ratings.

 

As famous newsman Ted Koppel said at the National Press Club this week, without President Trump, CNN would not be relevant. How true.

 

The business of 24/7 bashing of President Trump and American values is no longer responsible news. It’s non-stop editorializing.

 

The characters on CNN and two other networks, don’t care a bit about news. It’s only opinion, please, similar to the old time radio/TV show, “It Pays To Be Ignorant.” There is no test or degree needed to be a teevee journalist. Those granted the star power on the public airwaves should report “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

 

In newspaper talk, its -30- at least for today’s column. Remember, the printed page, broad sheet, of course, is the public record.

 

hmcovert@gmail.com

 



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