Thursday, January 13, 2005
The dying travails of CNN’s Crossfire continue to provide curious points of interest to those savvy enough to notice and hearty enough to endure a sometimes painful parade of egotistical screaming, cheap comic sound effects or, in this case, dry sobs.
In this morning’s New York Times, columnist Frank Rich echoes, with, as behooves a Times columnist, a bit more detail and, surprisingly, a bit of righteous indignation, some of the thoughts expressed in my Friday January 7 post about the odd appearance of a not quite teary Armstrong Williams on the allegedly rough and tumble cable chat show.
Unlike Times articles about frivolous subjects like war, Rich got to the meat in the first paragraph:
"Crossfire" came up with the worst show in its fabled 23-year history.
The Rich column is well worth your attention for his voice, amongst the vast research and video library-supported big media choir, is a plaintive solo that accuses the CNN program of witting or unwitting complicity “in the cover-up of a scandal.”
During my TV years the videotape library was perhaps overused to illustrate ongoing stories or permutations in those stories.
But the CNN producers like so many in big media, as regards this particular paid pundit scandal and other major Bush agenda-related stories, can’t seem to locate previously broadcast video, accurately quote critical statements by major public figures or remember important dates.
Armstrong Williams, as the Rich column relates, paid frequent visits to the CNN anchor desk throughout 2004 and offered his bought and paid for musings on a wide assortment of election year topics not limited to No Child Left Behind.
Why the normally aggressive Crossfire hosts chose to baste the oven-ready Williams with creamy plaudits and accolades instead of reviewing his past appearances under their program’s broiling klieg lights remains a mystery unless one believes CNN consciously and subtly manipulates the information we loosely call “the news”.
Read the Rich column.
Now that I know of Crossfire’s fate, I have found my infrequent viewings less upsetting
However, yesterday, personal ire was kindled when a different set of Crossfire hosts briefly mentioned C.A. Tripp’s The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln and quickly tossed it into their version of history’s ashcan with the addlepated squeamishness of the sexually naive.
Considering his wife and his surprise at the sexual antics of his President along with her clam-handed homophobe brother, I doubt I’d recommend these two for reasoned advice on any type of sexuality much less bi or homosexuality.
In two or three uninformed, factually incorrect and blush-riddled sentences James Carville and Bayh Buchanan dismissed Tripp’s heavily researched theory of Lincoln’s possible sexuality with a malevolent prejudice rarely observed nowadays outside our variously Puritanical media.
“I don’t buy it,” pronounced the mate less Bayh through her thin rigid lips.
A brief impartial synopsis of the book could have been in order if Crossfire’s intention was to inform instead of to mock and smear through implied innuendo, a big media specialty.
Indeed, I would have enjoyed watching Mr. Carville and Miss Buchanan discussing the youthful Lincoln’s 713-word satirical narrative, First Chronicles of Reuben, first reported by the 16th President’s law partner and biographer William Herndon in his 1889 Life of Lincoln; a narrative expurgated from all later editions until 1942.
But let us, please, not get lost in pesky details because Carville is “not that interested in the topic” and “will leave my curiosity up to the book review” for “what difference does it make?”
Well, Jim, when you put it that way it’s kind of easy to dismiss.
Kind of like trashing Gore or Dean’s scream or Iraqi nukes or, the latest, Social Security’s phony insolvency these nutrition-less news nuggets only add luster to Jon Stewart’s claim that “Crossfire is hurting America”.
Impartial and factual information, however uncomfortable to the comfortable, cannot cause physical harm but partial and non-factual disinformation can cause a full range of havoc as many of us so clearly see in our world today.
Once scrubbed of Crossfire, the scabrous CNN, like most of big media, will remain tainted.
As I said last Friday, I’m hoping for big, messy and dramatic show trials and not just a couple of plank-walking pundits and cancelled programs.
I’ll grab my knitting and hunt for a warm seat near the guillotine!
An excellent article on Novak by Amy Sullivan, Bob in Paradise, can be found in this month's Washington Monthly.
Also, apologies for today's late post.
Images: New York Times, CNN, AP, Google