It doesn’t matter what you think of MSNBC or Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann or their sometimes annoying little band of political correspondants selected to agree with them on the air. It doesn’t matter that they use the same news show equations as Fox News or that they have their own moments of embarrasing journalism, no different from Bill O’Reilly’s or Sean Hannity’s except that the left is a bad comeback to the right and tends to be more infantile and less condescending.
But never mind all that. What we have to deal with now is that ugly little rodent of journalism, gnawing on words like a skunk under your porch. That inconvenient liability that facts are — after all — facts, and that by the last period of any story, nothings stands on its own without them. To wit, the myriad facts presented by Olbermann and Maddow since August of this year have been well-checked, their investigations have been conclusive and relevant and their message has been clear and consistent. Not to mention cohesive and sane, with a touch of intelligence not seen on most other networks.
Mind you — in fact, BEWARE! I make no defense for network news. They are all of them feeble and vapid wastes of time, a sickly portal for information, constipated and obtuse. The 24-hour news cycle does for relevant information what a swollen prostate does to a stream of urine. And nobody likes to get up five times a night to barely squeeze a trickle.
Why the hell do we put up with this shit?
But as we’ve seen with the two-party system in this country — which is really just a one party system that is, before it is anything else, pro-business — facts don’t always go hand in hand with reasonable reactions. And sometimes the strategies on the white board must simply be turned upside down.
It was odd to watch Olbermann, the newsman turned poet writhe and pulse with tones of anger and a menacing darkness about his gaze, filling the airwaves with his own pitch for health care, his own story. It was weird to be moved by a journalist’s pitch, to have his bias slap me in the face like a clown beating a piñata with the small end of a baseball bat. Using his father’s battle with age and infirmaments, he spoke of every one’s fear and resistance to death and pain. Bias be damned, he implied, if I can’t reach you buffoons with the logical progression of facts and guided journalism, by god, I’ll reach into the pits of my own desperation, my own human battles if I have to. And not in a pathetic and phony plea like that idiot, Glenn Beck, who would, if he were any kind of decent, at least take acting lessons before attempting to stir my pity.
And, he continued, if it doesn’t satisfy your need to be entertained, then fuck you, because this is about action, not rhetoric. If the facts won’t stir you, and the poetry won’t touch you, well, then I’ll spell it out for you. And whether mindless viewer or devoted activist, I WILL TELL YOU WHAT TO DO.
And then he did.
A call to action. An honest-to-god initiative by the left, something not seen since Vietnam, and even that might be a little naíve to consider. Hold free health clinics in the states of the 6 or 8 democrat senators who are seemingly siding with republicans on the public option issue of the health bill. Hold those dogs accountable for what you need from them. Show those miserable pro-business miscreants giving advantage to the health-care giants at the cost of human pain that what we want is possible, and that we know it is THEY that stand in our way. And then, goddammit, vote accordingly when the time comes, eh?
And with that, he returned to the regular programming, of filling up the airwaves with another 24 hours of informatioin, and we, the viewers, the citizenry, were left to do with that message what we will. I only mention it because it was weird to remember just how much inane chatter is out there in the ether to spill into our minds if we’re not selective of what we bother wasting our time with.
I was moved by Olberman’s near soliloquy on MSNBC. Well, not on TV, and not that night since I watch and read my news on the internet, when I damn well please, and in a way that I can spend the time to form my own opinions, on my own terms, without having Lexus, Jack Daniels and Boeing commercials splashed at me with ridiculous fervor, without having my thought processes constantly interrupted by by a jangle of clowns. I’m sure that the darkness and the settled air of 8pm prime time generates its own air of propriety for his words, but what the hell? One in the afternoon was good enough for me.
In any case, it stirred me. For a moment I even considered that there might still be cogs within the machine that are acting on behalf of the very principles they claim; our principles — the ones that serve that almost mythical creature, the citizen. It was a weird feeling, to be honest.
…though it fades just as quickly.