By Mike Gold, A retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest.
Okay, with this column, all of you have the right to call me a curmudgeon.
I write this after attempting to watch "The Today Show" for three days in a row. Now I don’t know, other than ratings, how and why the producers of this show could possibly write the segments that they do.
Let me state that in my opinion, this show is aimed at what I fondly call The Raggedy Assed Masses. Anyone with a room temperature IQ probably has to really focus to be able to watch any of it.
Here’s the problem as I see it: The old adage "If it bleeds it leads" is a saying about what mass media companies are driven by (the gorier the story, the better the ratings, and the more advertising revenue it brings in).
This week, with the horrible shooting in Las Vegas, each morning news show (as well as all the evening network news shows) all are still (four days later!) still leading with this story.
By now, we’ve all seen or read about what happened ad infinitum. Since this is a story that tends to attract viewers, the morning “news shows” – more about this below - have to resort to finding something “new” to broadcast. So this morning (Wed. Oct. 4th) we were treated to the twentieth repetition of the shooter’s brother (who lives somewhere in central Florida) saying: “He took such good care of the people he loved.”Although there is no clear motive for what this evil person did, that did not stop the shows from speculating about what that might be.
Here are some other things that really disturb me about these shows.
First, there are far too many commercials in each half hour. "The Today Show," for example, spends the first two or three minutes telling the viewers what the “lead headlines” are for that half hour. Then, if you’re lucky, you get about fifteen minutes of actual news. Then when they are ready for the first weather report, Al Roker says: “We’ll bring you your local weather after the next 30 seconds.”
That is a relatively recent change to the show’s format. So you get to watch another 30 seconds of mind numbing commercials before it switches to our local weatherman. Then, at approximately 19 minutes after the hour, the show switches to at least 11 minutes of commercials.
Then when they come back for the second half hour, they don’t even get to ten minutes of news. Off they go to more commercials after one or two short vignettes. (Hey, if I want to purchase hemorrhoid cream, I think I already know a. what I need and b. where to purchase it.)
Far worse than the frequency of commercials is what and how they report.
First, if there is some disaster, they ship the poor reporters off to wherever the news has happened. A half dozen of them (for each network) plus all the support staff (for TV and audio) and whatever infrastructure is required are “in the field.” So we still have reporters in Florida and Puerto Rico standing in the middle of a field of destruction. You see people standing behind the reporter scrounging around for food, energy and water.
Does the reporter and their staff “help out?” Absolutely not! They clearly have been flown into the area on a private jet; complete with all the supplies they will need for a week or more. Just once I’d like to see a reporter reach behind the camera and hand food or water to the crowds standing around.
With the Las Vegas shooting, I actually heard Savannah Guthrie (one of "The Today Show’s" main hosts) ask one of the surviving victims (someone who lost a friend/relative), “What are you feeling right now?” I simply wanted to vomit. Clearly they are appealing to the lowest common denominator.
Last point about this wretched excuse for news. These are supposed to be “news shows.” So why does "The Today Show" feature a musical act on almost every Friday, and during the summer often on Thursday as well. What does a musical act have to do with a news show? As an aside most of the musical acts are those I’ve never heard of and I tend to shout out at the TV: “Keep your day job.”
Now Fox News is really not much better. Their segments are much longer than any of the network morning shows. And they do stick to “hard news.” However, the show features what I call, “The Bimbo of the Month” as the hostess. Any of them have extraordinary beautiful shapes and legs (which are prominently displayed crossed – for modesty – directly up front).
One of the former “bimbos” Megyn Kelly quit Fox News – and has joined "The Today Show" at some astronomical salary ($17 million/year!) to take over the 9 AM slot which used to be hosted by Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, That was a simply dreadful show – full of vapid boring uninteresting blather. So far, Kelly’s ratings are not much better – although she is much much better looking (IMHO) than either of the two previous hosts.
Now things could be far worse. They could emulate the afternoon “soap operas.” Hey, get me my gun, I want to shoot myself.