GQ writer says TV news operations have lost their way

The Baltimore Sun

I THINK we are in an hour of special danger, if only because our technology is so loud, slick and seductive, its powers of self-critique so insufficient."

That's George Saunders in GQ for September, writing a scathing and accurate look at what has happened to TV news, and to cable in particular. The piece chronicles the rise of the screaming heads, the lack of balance, the scary reality that the people doing the screaming, the ones whom we imbue with power, aren't the brightest bulbs. But they have the biggest megaphones, and after awhile we begin to think and talk in the sweeping certainties of cable broadcasters. Clubbed into submission, as it were.

The author points to the O.J. Simpson trial as the point in which "something latent in our news media became overt and catastrophic." He admits that news has always had its sensational, dumb and profit-seeking aspects, but now we have slipped into a chasm from which it seems we can't and don't want to escape.

The piece ends with Saunders saying we still have the ability to change, and we must "insist that what's said be as intelligent and humane as possible."

Good luck on that. With election campaigning pushed a year ahead of itself, intelligence and humanity are already in short shrift on the 24-hour "news" cycle.

More from GQ

This is a highly political issue of GQ. Barak Obama is its cover guy. There's also a piece on CNN's new conservative firebrand Glenn Beck, with a damning indictment of that network - referring to its "craven repositioning, in response to Fox." But then, Fox's high-voltage style has also influenced MSNBC, leaving Keith Olbermann as the last angry liberal on cable TV. Rupert Murdoch's soldiers have every right to crow - imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

She's saving fabric

Last Sunday night at Madeo's in Hollywood, Pamela Anderson reportedly "shocked" fellow diners by wearing a little "nightie" dress that barely covered the very tops of her thighs. Really? Why do I doubt anybody was shocked? It's Pamela Anderson, for heaven's sake. I don't think this woman has ever vacationed in a cooler clime, so as to avoid wearing anything with sleeves or a neckline that doesn't plunge all the way to Santa Monica.

I can't say I find Pamela's wardrobe choices sensible or even attractive, and I'll never understand why a natural beauty tampers with a perfect face and body. But these are her personal choices, the way she feels pretty and how she remains a viable product. At least she wears panties. And despite that old sex-tape with her ex, Tommy Lee, Pamela is a model of propriety compared to what's falling out of cars onto the Sunset Strip nowadays. She appears to be an exemplary mother to her two young sons. And she's smart.

Pam's dinner companion was superwealthy Stephen Bing of Liz Hurley fame. He wasn't shocked by her teeny dress. He didn't even insist she put a napkin on her lap.

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