I love it when the truth accidentally slips out of a politician’s mouth. That happened this week when Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Democrat from West Virginia, unleashed a tirade on the dismal state of American television.
His audience was a group of broadcasters and cable TV executives at a Senate hearing—a prime group to lecture and publicly embarrass. Rockefeller began by addressing the quality of their programming.
As to entertainment, he said: “It’s a race to the bottom.”
As to news, he argued, they are a public disgrace and should be put out of business.
"Rather than having a watchdog, the public is subjected to the "endless barking" of the 24-hour news cycle from media "ravenous for the next rumor but insufficiently hungry for the facts that nourish Democracy," he said.
He cited the executives as partly responsible for "the dumbing down of America."
"There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC to say to Fox and to MSNBC: 'Out. Off. End. Goodbye.' It would be a big favor to political discourse."
Rockefeller said he hates both the Fox "News" Channel and MSNBC. If it were up to him, Rockefeller added, neither one of them would be allowed to exist. He bemoaned that the sort of news delivered by anchors at MSNBC and said Fox impedes "our ability to do our work here in Congress."
"I hunger for quality news," Rockefeller said. "I’m tired of the right and the left."
Hard to argue with any of that. The whole "right" and "left" delineations are so phony and obsolete. They mean nothing and were tired a decade ago. But they are still used to divide people.
One can, of course, do what I did years ago: Turn the damn television set off. Yes, it dumbs you down to their level and contributes to the mass stupidity we watched in the recent election. And you save on a whopping cable bill. Though Rockefeller was just blowing smoke, he was dead right.