I Miss Walter Cronkite

I confess, I haven't watched local or national TV news in years.

I bugged out once all of the stations were doing "death" teasers for their broadcasts. "This surprising item in your kitchen will kill you!" "There are unknown predators in your neighborhood!" "Find about the commonplace product under the third step of your stairs that can give you cancer!" "You MUST watch our broadcast or you're doomed!!!!"

You get the gist. It was all about sucking you in to watch and the teaser segment was always buried somewhere in the broadcast so you had to wait through it all.

Here's another thing that turned me off from TV news; reporters standing in front of a building hours after whatever action happened before. Seriously, you could put that reporter in front of a blank green screen and gotten the same amount of relevance. "What you can't see now because it's all cleaned up is that the bus jumped this curb and ran into another vehicle right here behind me." Being on location didn't help those stories.

I also don't watch the cable news stations. The last time I recall doing so in any consistent manner was when CNN reported on the Gulf War. Man, that was a long time ago.

I was on a cruise ship last month and the TV viewing was very limited. Besides watching the live stream from the camera at the front of the boat, the cruise chip channel where they broadcast commercials to get us to buy things we don't need from the onboard stores, there was one sports channel showing mostly Soccer games, MSNBC, Fox News and BBC News World News.

Since my traveling companion always wants the TV on (and I am indifferent), we alternated between the cruise ship channel and Fox News. Oh, yeah, my traveling companion is also a Republican. However, if they'd had CNN we would have met in the middle.

All of this long intro leads into my main point (you had to know I'd get there eventually) which is that our broadcast journalists have been replaced with pundits. Instead of reciting the facts of a news story then leaving you with "And that's the way it is" a la Cronkite, the pundits read off a couple of details then give their opinion on the story.

I can only imagine what he would think about today's "News".
But, that's not the only opinion you get. They then throw it to Pundits A, B and C who all also give their opinions. Not facts, mind you. Just opinions. To preserve the notion of fair and balanced, Pundit B might actually believe something different than the others. Or, at least say that he/she does.

The story that set me on the path to writing this lament was Trump's rally in Costa Mesa, CA. In case you somehow missed it, protestors pushed through barriers, got in some scuffles with police and Trump and crew slipped out a back way of a hotel and had to hoof down the side of the road to get in to their vehicles.

Fox News had an in studio pundit lead with the story then they threw it to a reporter on site. He described the barricade rupture and then gave out several speculations as to who the protesters were and the reason they were there. The next segment on Fox News was a regular show led by some dude I don't know who talked about the event, gave his opinion, then asked Pundits A, B and C their opinions.

To this day, I don't know exactly who the protestors were, what they were specifically protesting and what their end goal was. They could have been hired by some Dem group to stir things up, they could have been hired by some Trump group to make other protestors look bad, they could have been an organic collection of people who got caught up in the heat of the moment.

Why don't I know?

Because NONE of the alleged journalists asked them. Not even the dude right there on the scene.

Instead, we got a lot of "Well, I don't know for sure what their motivations are but I suspect..." From all of the talking heads.

It drove me crazy. To be fair, my traveling companion thought it was just as ridiculous. And, I'm not just bashing Fox News here. I've no doubt they all do the same.

Not once in the week that we watched did I hear any pundit say, "Hey, that's a great point you bring up there. I need to rethink my opinion." It was just repeated, "Here's what I believe and you're right, Pundit A and C and you're wrong, Pundit B."

Why have we gotten to this? I believe it's ratings and the need for people to hear someone else validate their opinions. If you think everyone who shows up to protest Trump is an illegal hooligan living off welfare, you can find someone to agree with you on Fox News. If you think that all Republicans are waging a war on women, you can find validation on MSNBC.

Of course, that's what I believe but I don't know for sure. Holy crap, I'm a talking head, too! I'm clearly qualified for my own segment on MSNBC.

I referenced Walter Cronkite's tag line earlier. He usually ended his broadcasts with "And that's the way it is" followed by the date.

You know when he didn't end that way? When the last story was an editorial or a commentary.

Because editorials aren't news. Editorials are what Pundit A, B and C tell you.

I miss Walter Cronkite and I miss the News.


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