The Collected Works of Dominic Gwinn

Ruminations of a Political Junkie

Posted in Politics by Dominic Gwinn on November 20, 2008

I’ve been glued to the 24 hour cable news cycle for the past year, anxiously wolfing down super-sized servings of spoon-fed news from the plethora of blathering “experts” that help to fulfill my ever growing addiction to politics and the news. I’ve set up my laptop in front of the t.v. to read blogs, columns and news articles during commercial breaks or sports reports as I know somewhere, someone is saying something worth noting. Since the election, however, I’ve found that the great, interactive reality show that is the news business has begun to slow to a dull and lackluster pace, and I can’t help but wonder what will happen to all the pundits, columnists and news junkies now that there’s no election to cover.

Every morning has been the same, I wake up and I flip on the t.v. MSNBC’s Morning Joe has been the apex of morning news shows, important people saying important things at an ungodly hour of the morning. Deep down though, I can’t stand Joe Scarborough, and would like nothing more than for him to be booted from his own show again, yet I still watch every morning and send anonymous comments to the shows producers. Regardless of my bias against Scarborough, his show is still most entertaining thing on t.v. from 6am to 9am, and it usually contains the most substantive arguments and note-worthy figures of the day.

After Morning Joe, I usually rifle through all the other 24-hour news channels: Fox, CNN (HN & IN), BBC International, and C-SPAN House & C-SPAN Senate. None of them usually have anything new or interesting to say that I haven’t already heard (sans C-SPAN). Unless it’s an exclusive or a breaking story, it’s usually just a rehash of the same crap I just heard, or watered down version of something I’m already reading. Special Reports are old news to me because by the time a network runs the story, I’ve usually already read the most meaty bits on-line. This is usually a standard, bloggers get the story first and make a post, upload it to some sort of News Aggregate like Digg, Reddit, or Yahoo Buzz, the mainstream press then validates it and crafts a legitimate report. The only problem is that by the time a major network runs the story, it seems like old news to me because I’ve already seen the same damn story on the net a week ago.

When the Enquirer ran the story about John Edwards affair with Riley Hunter, the net was already buzzing about it, hours before NBC or CBS went public with the story. When Ron Paul was breaking the Fund Raising records, Reddit & Digg were the first websites to have stories up (to be fair, the links were usually just redirects to the Paul’s website). When Hillary Clinton gave her infamous “sniper fire” remark, bloggers were all over that farce like flies on shit, with links to Youtube videos and archived stories from the Washington Post to prove it.

I have to wonder what this bombardment of information might do to me. The constant vein-slapping injection of news into my brain is accompanied by a tremendous cup of black coffee and a hand-rolled cigarette (a pairing I’ve carefully concocted over several months). Black coffee just works better, there’s more caffeine, there’s more taste, more antioxidants; what used to be a casual jolt in the morning is now like being hit by a run-away freight train. The hand-rolled cigarettes have served as my “zen garden”, with each cigarette being meticulously crafted for the perfect smoke while I wait for the anchors to change and commercials to finish. A smoke-break is one of two forced breaks from my information ingestion, the other being to use the bathroom, respectively.

What really worries me is how the quality of news casts is already changing. Fox has already mandated that it won’t air consistently negative stories about Obama, and MSNBC focus’s almost exclusively on politics now. The only channels with a variety of news reports are the BBC and CNN International, but they are in stark contrast compared to MSNBC and Fox. Where the latter substitute a variety of stories for flashy graphics, and sound effects in between wipes and segways, the former offer typical, bland, monotone reporters with a minimal amount of flare. I have to admit that I value the bland more than the flashy, but it’s the flashy ones that keep me hooked and entertained, feeding my addiction while some freak with a perfect haircut is calmly sending me subliminal messages to “panic” and buy war-bonds.

Guess I’ll have to tune in and find out.

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