Cable news is ripe for disruption

Why is cable news, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, such a cesspool of idiocracy?

It's not necessarily because the people they get are idiots, because they're not.

In the last couple of of days this has been confirmed by appearances by two people, Jay Rosen, my former colleague at NYU, and Julia Ioffe of the New Republic.

Rosen was on Up with Chris Hayes, moderated that night by Ezra Klein, talking about the purchase of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos. I tuned in of course, because Jay had been firing on all cylinders lately on his blog with perspective on what the Snowden revelations have taught us about American journalism. I was looking forward to Jay's brilliance to shine through, but I was disappointed. Jay explained later that cable news can't carry complex, interesting ideas. It's the can't part that I don't accept. I understand that it doesn't but I think it can.

Jay did manage to say one important thing, that tech people tend to see things on a longer timescale than journalists do. We tend to be impatient, knowing that our lives are ticking by quickly, and our chance to participate in an intellectual ideafest is waning with every turn of the news cycle. As cable news descends further into mediocrity, to some extent, so goes our chance of having meaningful lives.

I discovered Ioffe's post on the New Republic through links in my Twitter feed. Ignore the bit at the beginning where she takes cheap shots at Lawrence O'Donnell. It really wasn't necessary to make her point, which was perfectly spelled out in her post, explaining why Putin couldn't have done anything but give Snowden asylum after the US, ineptly, removed all other options. Her post is brilliant! I had an inkling this was true, but I'm nowhere near as informed as she is on US-Russian affairs, but everything she said made sense, and almost none of it got past O'Donnell's loud, pushy and idiotic monolog.

She said, in her post, that he was an angry grandpa who was mansplaining things to her. O'Donnell is an idiot, but I don't think that's because he's a man, or old enough to be anyone's grandpa. Dismissing him that way is the equivalent of dismissing Ioffe as a hot babe who should stay at home and let men run the world. Who cares. In this context it's the ideas that matter. O'Donnell's were clearly worthless. Anyone watching the video can see that. Also, the fault is not even his, it's the format's. We need to get him out of the moderator's chair. Replacing him with a younger man or woman isn't the change that's needed.

At one point I thought Ezra Klein was the change we needed, but I haven't heard his story change after the Snowden revelations, which imho was necessary for me to have any trust in him. He's not old enough to be anyone's grandpa, and he doesn't do a lot of mansplaining, but he's rooted in the corruption exposed by Snowden. He really can't be part of the change we need, until his approach changes accordingly.

So here are two people with something to say, clearly, who were on the air, and we saw nothing but the usual boring bullshit. If we wanted to capture their thinking, we could only get it through their blogs. There's the change, right there. Can we envision a one hour cable news show that could get the information that Rosen and Ioffe can get into a single blog post? Of course! Someone should try it. Let's go.

Posted: Thu, 08 Aug 2013 13:50:46 GMT