FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Nature (and Television) Abhors a Vacuum

Is it just me, or has that 24-hour news cycle “model” launched by CNN turned around and bitten the hand that feeds it? Not only has the amount of faux-news and warmed-over commentary reached epic proportions, the term “talking heads” has never been made more explicit or nauseating.

The late, great Jack Germond, one of America’s most respected print journalists, liked to remind people—particularly television people—that newspapers used to publish noticeably shorter editions on those days when there wasn’t much news to report. After all, if it was a slow news day, what were they expected to do—insult the readership by endlessly repackaging the same story while they waited for something to happen?

Alas, while reducing content may have worked for newspapers, the ubiquitous news and discussion shows on cable TV don’t have that “luxury,” because despite there being nothing fresh and insightful to report—and all the old stuff having been chewed up and regurgitated several times—the networks have no choice but to plow ahead, keep on talking, keep on sifting through the wreckage, no matter how repetitive or mind-numbing. The simple truth is that these programs have been scheduled in advance and the sponsors have already paid for air time.

Recent events in Ukraine and Gaza are prime examples of this. Because the events occurring in these places are so riveting and tragic (innocent people dying, dwellings being demolished, lives being ruined), it makes absolute sense to want to continue covering them, even if, in truth, pretty much everything pertinent had already been reported days earlier.

As tragic as these stories are, the reality is that until something genuinely “news worthy” occurs, there is very little new information to report. It’s no one’s fault. There’s no blame to assign. There simply happens to be such a thing as a “lull.” In fact, ideally, these Gaza and Ukraine stories could be covered with a five-minute update from time to time, just to keep the viewers apprised of what’s going on.

But these news and commentary shows don’t come in five-minute doses; they come in half-hour or one-hour blocks, with somber-looking pundits sharing a split screen or pontificating at a panel table. And despite the paucity of content, there is no way in hell CNN or MSNBC or Fox News would ever consider “going dark,” and waiting for something worthwhile to report.

So not only are we exposed to the repetitive, mindless chatter of retired military officers and intelligence wonks pretending to know more than they know, there is no point in changing channels, because it’s only going to be more of the same. When there’s a lull, there’s a lull, and changing stations won’t remedy that. You can’t invent fresh news when there isn’t any.

All of which doesn’t erode these programs’ credibility or determination so much as reveal their superficiality. How refreshing it would be, on a slow news day, to have a five-minute update, followed by a re-run of the “West Wing.”

David Macaray is a playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd edition).  He can be reached at damacaray@yahoo.com

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ahmet Altan’s “I Will Never See the World Again”
David Yearsley
Jazz is Activism
Elliot Sperber
Captains of Industry 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail