I’ve been noticing lately how much I don’t miss MSNBC. I was in the habit of catching Nicolle Wallace’s show every weekday at 3 PM (Central Time). She was one of the last on-air hosts I could stomach. (Chris Hayes is okay, and Rachel Maddow can be very good when I’m in the mood for that level of earnestness.)
But I’ve long thought Chris Matthews was a brilliant jackass in love with the sound of his own voice. And don’t get me started on Brian Williams, who, no, I do not forgive for besmirching journalism. He should retire and find other work.
But I thought Nicolle Wallace was okay.
And, yeah, I won’t lie, some of it is sexist. She’s easy on the eyes, and I like her voice. I especially like her intelligence, education, personality, and worldview, but I have to acknowledge the gender-attraction aspect. Definitely a part of the draw.
For many months now it’s been hard to ignore that MSNBC, from when Wallace’s show airs at 3 PM (my time), until Brian Williams wraps it up after the 4, 5, 6 (used to be Matthews), 7 (Hayes), 8 (Maddow), & 9 (O’Donnell), o’clock hours — eight hours of regular weeknight political commentary — is essentially the “Isn’t Trump Just Awful!!!” show.
Which, yes, absolutely he is, three exclamation marks worth, but god damn it gets old listening to. Because it’s basically just a bitch-fest with no one doing anything about it.
(I can’t even say, “Spare me the labor pains, show me the baby,” because these folks have no intention of making a baby or anything else other than a buck broadcasting this crap.)
What really turns my anger crank is that, with all their bitching, they’re feeding the monster. They’re giving that corrupt excuse of a human being exactly what he wants — what he needs. How have they not figured out that Twitler thrives on the controversy he intentionally generates.
The trick to P45, it seems to me, is to mock him and ignore him.
That’s his kryptonite. Treat him as the massively ignorant, incompetent, petulant child he is. Laugh at him — it drives him crazy. Remember the Correspondent’s Dinner?
Being outraged by him just turns him on. It’s exactly what he wants.
Especially once this coronavirus thing started, and it was all anyone talked about (without actually adding much to the conversation), I found myself turning off the show a lot.
Sometimes within minutes, sometimes after watching for a while, but rarely beyond the 20-minute mark if I stopped watching. I just had no stomach for chatter with no real information content.
This started before the outbreak. It’s been going on for months, this dissatisfaction. In retrospect, there is some lingering outrage at how they used to focus their cameras on the empty podium where the Pumpkin Goblin would be making an appearance. Sometimes hours — fucking hours — of camera time devoted to an empty podium.
And they’d cover each speech from beginning to end. All that free air time. It was grotesque and a very clear indication of what these so-called news outlets are really in business for. (Let me stress those last three words: In. Business. For.)
These are commercial ventures selling a product, and it turns out to be a product we’re addicted to. In fact, there’s a lot of addictive behavior going on.
The cable “news” channels are addicted to what Spray Tan Sally does for their ratings. We all want to get in on the outrage; it’s the latest American industry, our outrage. (And we’re getting really good at it.)
Katy Tur once mentioned how the “air crackled” when Cheeto Charlie entered the room. No, Katy, you poor soul, you’re suffering from Stockholm Syndrome from having been trapped on the road with this psychic rapist for all those months. A mental abuser who often singled you out publicly.
The air, and let me emphasize this, does not “crackle” when any human being enters any room. That’s in your head. It shouldn’t be. It’s PTSD.
Which I think we’re all suffering from at this point. I’ve seen reports that even our pets are acting strange. They’re not used to having us around all the time. (You’d think they’d be thrilled, but it interferes with their secret plans. The cats are especially unhappy.)
I realized it was something of an addiction for me, watching my Nicolle Wallace every day at three. Almost like an old person and their soap operas. It was a habit, part of the daily security blanket I wrapped myself in.
When several days went past, and I turned off the show almost immediately each day, I decided it was time to stop. At least until the coronavirus thing ended and people talked about something else.
It was weird for a few days, felt like something missing, but as time went on I thought less and less about it. The last week or so I realized I’m over my addiction. I thought about watching yesterday, just because it had been a while, but the idea of watching Wallace’s show, or any MSNBC show, was repugnant to me.
I just don’t want that vibe anymore.
It’s funny that, as much as I love TV (I’m certainly a child brought up in the TV era), there’s some part of me that’s always found it both too passive and too fixed (for lack of a better term).
I mentioned recently how seeing the Lord of the Rings movie fixes Elijah Wood as Frodo in your mind forever. But in just reading the book, Frodo could be anyone you imagine.
So there’s always been a Yin-Yang thing with TV for me. Being a TV era child also brings the various cautions from “bad on your eyes” to “bad on your brains” along with “why don’t you go outside and play” (and “go ask your mother”).
During my brief marriage, the kids pretty much owned the TV and husbands have a HoneyDo list, so I stopped watching TV almost entirely. What I realized then is how much I actually don’t care about TV. After the divorce, it took a few years to start watching much again.
It’s its own addiction. At least, we have to be careful about it.
Certainly some is better than others. I do think TV is the new movies. Longer stories, decent budgets, state-of-the art CGI,… we’ve come a long way from the Ed Sullivan Show.
But cable “news” is a product being sold to us. It’s really a form of entertainment for social intellectuals. Or a form of communal commiserating, ranting, and complaining.
It’s a faint imitation of real journalism.
Four years ago I said so long to CNN.
Now I’m officially saying good-bye to MSNBC.
I can’t say I’ll miss ya. (I can say I won’t.)
One of the oldest notes I have reads:
What Would ERM Do?
ERM, of course, is Edward R. Murrow, one of our history’s great journalists. One of the first TV journalists. I wonder what he would think of this.
Well, wonder no more. Here’s what he said in his famous “wires and lights in a box” speech to the RTNDA back in 1958. I’ll leave you with a bit from the end of that speech:
This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.
Words for our time, too, eh?
Stay unaddicted, my friends!