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Saddest Ghost Lamp

Friday, April 01, 2005

Physician, Heal Thyself


Poor Howard Kurtz feels like a pinball:
The cable-driven news culture has long careened from one obsession to the next, but never with such breakneck speed. I feel like I've been bounced around like a pinball in a machine. The Martha-out-of-jail fixation, the Jacko/young boys/porn trial, the Robert Blake how'd-he-get-off verdict, the Ashley Smith angel-redeems-murder-suspect saga, the Jessica Lunsford suspect arrested. And then in just the last day, Terri Schiavo dies, the pope falls gravely ill and, in my little world, Ted Koppel quits. (More on that below.)

So loud was the beating of the cable drums that the release of a commission report on the Bush administration's "dead wrong" intelligence in Iraq was reduced to a mere blip against the sad but inevitable death of Schiavo, which continued with emotional intensity -- especially in front of the cameras -- even after the passing of the woman that this was supposedly all about. "Rest in peace" was not in the media's lexicon, not with the politicians still fighting and the relatives still feuding and too many still trying to milk partisan or ideological advantage from the tragedy.
I have a suggestion, Howard: Stop pumping quarters into the goddamn pinball machine. No wait--I mean, stop letting the pinball machine pump quarters into you.

On no less than 14 of those mad and maddening March days, you and your finely preserved vintage 1978 hairdo were blathering away to Judy Woodruff, Wolf Blitzer, and--I love this--"Showbiz Tonight's" David Haffenreffer on Schiavo and other important stories of vital interest to the Republic. That's more than just your sleepy little Sunday show, "Reliable Sources," mind you--you are on call for CNN to fill air when they need you, just like any other TV hack.

Television journalists can complain about the state of TV news--what else can they do? They're TV journalists, you have to make a living, you try your best not to be an asshole. Likewise, newspaper reporters can complain about newspapers--but what else can they do?

You, Howard, are a newspaper reporter who muscled his way onto television. You don't get to bitch about the sorry state of TV news when you've tried so hard over the years to be a part of it. If you don't like it, stop cashing your CNN paychecks. Spare us the sanctimony.

Also, please stop pretending to cover the people who pay you.