Editorial standards at Forbes make it impossible to post my most recent Political Orphans piece over there. Instead, I’ve posted a somewhat sanitized version, focusing on the media environment. It starts with a look at that pathetic Trump supporter in Iowa who voted twice to keep her vote from being stolen, then examines the way entertainment has swallowed journalism.
A 24-hour news channel was a never a great idea from a journalistic perspective. There simply isn’t enough substantive, verifiable material to hold an audience’s interest while sustaining round-the-clock advertiser value. Making that model work required networks to amp up the emotional power while slashing the hefty cost of research and vetting. Imagine a TV anchorperson without any journalists, and that’s the cable news business model in a nutshell.
Dedicated, round-the-clock TV news has never produced anything more journalistically significant than the OJ Simpson car chase. Once the Internet arrived, the flawed concept of full-time television news was weaponized, devolving from mere entertainment into a form of civic poison.
TV news is the political equivalent of toxic industrial waste. No context, no depth, just minute-by-minute breathless panic, veering from one subject to the next like a dog in a field full of rabbits. Nothing good can come of watching news coverage on a 24-hour news channel. It is making people crazy.
The piece does cram in a reference to some of the bright spots emerging on the periphery, like John Oliver and Lawrence O’Donnell. It also points out the absence of any such credible journalistic engines emerging on the right, a subject I’ve explored elsewhere in the past.