Monday, January 11, 2010

Infotainment isn't news, much less fair and balanced

Ok I get it: Sarah Palin is fascinating. I don't even hate her, I confess. She's got an interesting story, both personally and professionally, and she was amazing at the RNCC in 2008 when McCain announced her as his choice for VP. But all of that does not make her qualified to act as a news analyst in the sense of what (I think, at least) a news analyst ought to be. To wit: someone who understands the issues and can explain them in a way that resonates with the American public, which is very busy and turns to cable news for information about what’s going on in the world and how it effects themselves or their loved ones.

The key word in there being INFORMATION. What Sarah Palin will provide is not that.

I’m sure she’s learned a lot about national and international politics since she first started out on the campaign trail. But what is she going to contribute to a story about Congress, having never served there herself? Or even covered it for a newspaper, magazine, or BLOG. Or a story about a Supreme Court case, not being a lawyer, law professor, or remotely related to the legal profession?

Sarah Palin is not a specialist in anything except holding the public’s attention on an issue or, more often, herself. Doing so better than the other cable news networks is what has made FOX News the animal that it is. I’m not saying that’s not necessarily a Bad skill. I am saying that skill is not applicable when your professed goal is to INFORM the public.

There it is again: INFORMATION. Do you know what FOX News usually provides its viewers? INFOTAINMENT. Subtle difference

And hey, CNN, I’m talking to you too. AT 730 when I’m trying to be INFORMED about current events before I head out the door, I don’t really want to hear about Ben Stiller’s new charity or a bunch of teasers before ten minutes of commercials.

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