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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pride and Shame

It's a sad day when you realize that in the trial of the news media, the prosecution is a comedian and the evidence is the satirist in the next time slot. What makes it that much worse is:  A) They're both pointedly right.  B) The defense doesn't take the hint that they should shape up.  C) The defense acts persecuted to the point of martyrdom.

And frankly, all the defense does is make the problems worse. The blatant partisanship, the unfounded conjecture, the impulse to be the "first" to get the story and to hell with anything that gets in the way (Integrity? Who needs that?), all it does is misinform and mislead the majority of the populace, and drive the rest to disillusionment, cynicism, and apathy.  I know it's all about the Benjamins for a lot of the people at the top, whether they know it or not, but is it too much to ask that they earn their hookers and blow in a way that doesn't disembowel the financial, economic, political, and social structures in the process?

I know the blame isn't just at the top. The end-user also carries the responsibility to control the media by slapping them upside the head when something's not right. It is the fault of many people for lapping up the spin and bias, bumping ratings and hailing shows like the O'Reilly Factor and Hardball as bastions of reliable information, and promoting the sensationalist take on a very serious and analytical field like politics.  For the most part, we're stupid, and they know they can make off like bandits by exploiting that stupidity.  But the fact that it happens over and over again every day just makes my stomach churn.

How is it we as a society can be so collectively dim that Jon fucking Stewart (with all due respect to the the man) is one of the only guys bright enough to act as a lighthouse?  How did we reach the point where a guy who is paid to crack jokes four days a week has to shoehorn in all the fact-checking that fell off the to-do list of the people he's cracking jokes about?  The court jester is pulling a double-shift as the royal advisor.  Is he going to wear Jimmy Dean's coat now, too?

I think the only reason why I find the show as funny as I do is because it gets me to laugh at an otherwise scary prospect: we're getting stiffed, and I can count the number of people who are capable and willing enough to challenge that on one hand.

I really hope that Stewart and Colbert aren't the best that the higher powers can send us. If they are…well, I fear we may have just out-dumbed intelligent design.