As Goes the News, So Goes the Nation, ad infinitum

Bye Bye Aaron

What Can Brown Do For You?

I have written recently about CNN News, and you didn't have to read between the lines much to know that I thought anchor Aaron Brown was being pushed out in favor of the sort of sensationalist journalism that made Geraldo Rivera and Fox News household names (and laughingstocks to many of us).

Brown was dismissed--or as CNN tells it, left by mutual agreement--at the end of last week. Well, first the network had Anderson Cooper sitting on his head while Brown was trying to read the news. Then they cancelled his show entirely. So if you can call that "mutual agreement," so be it. Frankly, if I were Aaron Brown, I would have stayed on the CNN payroll, taken a few years off, some expensive vacations, and then thought about moving to some other channel. After suing them for discriminating against people with brains.

CNN says that Brown was bumped to accommodate "rising star" Anderson Cooper. So now we get two hours of Anderson Cooper, three hours of Wolf Blitzer (who saw his heyday years ago), and shows rerun throughout the night. Oh, CNN re-signed Larry King, who has turned into a buffoon with his bimbo songstress wife and shows about the royals, into his dotage. Clearly there was time and space for Aaron Brown in the CNN schedule. It is, what I consider, the dumbing down of the premiere news station to reflect, cater to, and perpetuate the dumbing down of America.

I have watched CNN since Viacom first brought it to my little low-res TV in the early 1980s, along with MTV. I have monitored CNN during the day almost every single weekday as I work, and generally watched it until 8 pm Pacific time each night. I have not turned it on this week and intend to boycott CNN as long as possible. I watch my dinky local southern Oregon newscast with glee at 5, 6 and 11 pm, half an hour of NBC Nightly News (back to network!), and can get the bulk of my information from the Web. I will not support CNN's efforts to sink to the level of Fox News.

The state of journalism in America has been pretty sad for a while, but it keeps sinking. I cut my professional teeth as a news reporter, albeit on small newspapers, and was taught such concepts as journalistic integrity, protecting one's sources, confirming and verifying information, and trying one's best to remain objective. So I am very sensitive to the crap that goes on now. Even the NY Times, which we used to turn to as the definitive source, liberal or not, is probably now par with The National Enquirer, which seemingly breaks more stories. Where were the editors when Judith Miller was feeding the American public administration lies? It's no wonder blogs have increasing clout.

Aaron Brown was smart, he was insightful, he was ironic, he was droll, he would follow up when he asked questions--he could analyze and reflect on the news as well as report it. As far as Anderson Cooper, he may be the hot flavor of the moment, but he will get old fast because he thinks he's hot shit. He made a mark in the recent hurricanes, but, as mentioned in this blog before, there is no good reason to stick a reporter in the middle of a hurricane. We know it's wet and windy--we don't need to see Cooper's big ears flapping in the wind.

CNN will never compete with Fox news because that is simply a different--and less informed--audience. Dumbing down will not help CNN as it has not helped America. And Cooper will not help CNN appeal to young viewers because, if you look at the demographics, young people simply don't care about news and probably never have.

If someone should have been let go, it should have been Jonathan Klein, president of CNN in the U.S., who is gutting a once-great news resource. If you are so inclined, send him an email to tell him so. Or email his boss. (Both email addresses courtesy of the S.F. Chronicle's Tim Goodman.)

I'm sure Ted Turner is shuddering, too.

Holes in the Theory of Evolution
Speaking of shuddering, I can't help but wonder what is sending America time-tripping back 100 years into the past. Certainly the Bush regime, with its blind belief in ignorance (or is that ignorance in belief?), is trying to guide it. And maybe it's the educational system? Or TV? Or the coming of Armageddon? Or maybe it's just the pollsters, quizzing only people who have time and inclination to answer the phone from 1-800 polling organizations. The rest of us have call screening and caller ID and reject those 1-800 numbers.

A recent CBS poll said that a majority of Americans do not believe in the theory of evolution. 51% percent said that "God" made humans; 15% percent say that humans evolved "spontaneously." The remaining 30% believe that "God" directed the process.

The state of Kansas--obviously accurately depicted in the Wizard of Oz--has decided to de-emphasize the teaching of evolution for the inclusion of intelligent design. But don't let the reports deceive you. It's not, like, the entire state of Kansas. It is a total of six ignorant school board members (out of 10. And, of course the six are Republicans). Six people can cripple the mind of a generation of young.

Fortunately, sometimes the voters strike back (though rarely!). Last year, a similar decision was made in Dover, PA by its school board. They have now been ousted by voters and replaced by more progressive minds.

You know what? This blogger simply does not know how life began. Maybe there is a bigger power. Maybe there is not. But certainly I believe in science and we should seriously pay attention to what we can verify. Everything else is speculation, conjecture, and we may call it belief, but if someone's beliefs don't match ours, we wind up calling them superstitions. The US is starting to lag behind many other countries in science and technology and no wonder why! In two generations, most Americans will think that television works by "magic." Certainly I am now finding holes in the theory of evolution. Darwin said nothing about de-evolution, and we are clearly devolving back into Neanderthals. It's amazing we can still use tools. We will retain the ability to drive Hummers, I suspect.

It's only fitting that a president who looks like a chimp is trying to cast doubt on the Scopes Monkey Trial. Maybe Planet of the Apes was more visionary than we thought.

What Exactly Is Leaking?
Hot air from political heads, obviously. With interest, I read a headline the other day that said the Republican leadership was thinking of investigating a leak! I thought, amazing, finally the party in power will begin to honestly look at how and why the administration leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative. Yeah, right. Instead, slimeballs Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert want to investigate who let the American people know that our country is operating secret prison camps abroad so they will not be subject to American laws on torture, interrogation, and probably not even the Geneva Convention. While George W. Bush on one hand is saying America does not use torture (though read the asterisks--we do when we're at war), we have these paragons of American virtue trying to stop the truth from coming out. And while Congress and some Republicans with principles like John McCain are trying to hold this country to its humanitarian standards, you get the office of Darth Cheney fighting very hard to exempt the CIA from these principles. Obviously, since the leak of Plame came from his office, "standards" and "CIA" are conflicting ideals to him.

Try Jacoby and Meyers, Mr. Hussein
You gotta wonder about the trial of Saddam Hussein. First of all, it took long enough. And now, his attorneys keep getting killed. You have to think about who is killing them? Everybody is blaming everyone else in Iraq. The Iraqi government blames Saddam loyalists (hmmmm, wouldn't they kill prosecutors?). And Saddam's people blame the Iraqi govt. But let's see, who wouldn't want Saddam to have a fair trial. As the Church Lady says, could it be Satan? I refer you back to the last two sentences of the previous paragraph.

More next week; same Bat time, same batty channel.

Posted: Wed - November 9, 2005 at 12:56 PM