Thursday, August 10, 2017

24-Hour News and Irritable Bowel

Chet Huntley (NBC Television)
Oh for the good old days when there were just the three major networks, CBS, NBC and ABC and you could hear about Kim Jong-un threatening to nuke Guam on the 7 o’clock evening news. Now you have to hear about Kim Jong-un and the destructive effects of Donald Trump’s playground bully tweets all day and night. 24-hour news was a revolutionary idea when it was first introduced, but now it’s begun to seem like an idea whose time you might have wished hadn’t come. Its one great purpose seems to be provide the video equivalent of muzak in hospital rooms. If you hear the same story again and again, it begins to numb and loses both its meaning and punch. Put in other terms it’s like the difference between having a normal bowel movement and irritable bowel syndrome.  Back in the day the network newscasters were real celebrities of an almost mythic nature, competing with seers like Tiresias from Greek Tragedy. Cronkite, Rather, Huntley and Brinkley and Edward R. Murrow became as legendary as many of the figures they covered. John Berman and Kate Bolduan of CNN are a cute couple, but they affect neither the gravitas of their predecessors, nor their veneer of objectivity and neutrality since they're not carrying as great a weight on their shoulders. These male broadcasters were like the blindfolded Lady Justice with her scales. When Kennedy was shot you were not only hearing Cronkite reporting, but a pater familias who provided a certain consolation, as you and your fellow family members crowded around the living room television hanging on his every word.

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