Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Toss Tucker, Bring Back Brokaw

There has been alot of attention on the interaction between Tom Brokaw and Chris Matthews during last nights coverage of the New Hampshire primary. Brokaw lamented the pre primary focus by the major media on personalities, gossip and speculation by the entrenched set of talking heads which dominate cable television. Brokaw called for a change in course by the media, wondering why they can't start focusing on issues and policy in what seemed to be a pretty direct assault on the essence of what makes Chris Matthews (here after referred to as Tweety) who he is.

Glenn Greenwald sums up the exchange by arguing that, in the context of talking heads sitting around navel gazing during the vote counting, Tweety must win the day. After all, if Tweety is wrong then the entire construct and formulation by which the mass media drives the news will be brought to ruin. All of Brokaw's high falutin musing about focusing on real issues would never prove successful if his dream show were to be put in competition against the slash and burn political hackery which constitutes modern cable television news programs...

As if to reinforce his own outlook, Tweety took to the cable ramparts this morning and pronounced that the only reason Senator Clinton was elected Senator in the first place is because Bill cheated on her. It makes me feel dirty even going there so after I bash out this post I have to take a shower.

Perhaps you have deduced by my acid tone towards Matthews that I am hardly on Tweety's side when it comes to the role our media should be playing. But I would like to see this tested somehow. Why not give Brokaw the chance to test his theory? If there is a person who could make it work it would have to be Brokaw. He is experienced, not widely assumed to be partisan one way or the other, serious, and generally well suited as the face of a respected news program. MSNBC is looking for a way to shake Tucker off... I think Brokaw would be a great addition, and we would be given a chance once and for all to see if a program focused on issues rather than poo fuffery would do well. I for one think it would.

All of this reminds me of Bill Clinton standing in front of the camera's and lamenting that he could not make his wife younger, or male. This recieved huge play with the personality driven media coverage and I though made Bill look bad, (I immediately thought to myself that Michelle Obama should call a presser and announce that she could not make Obama white, or his spouse a cad for that matter). But what we as a nation really can not change is the plague which passes for mass media in modern society. They force feed us the foibles of the politicians, the tears when the chips are down and the general personality driven story of the day, while giving the issues and policy decisions of the day very short thrift.

So let us put the Brokaw theory to the test, and I can not think of a better way to do it than by having Tucker Carlson exit stage right and letting Brokaw make a run at changing the basic character of the media by example.

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