The late Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote "Network," coined comicalization because he believed making fun of the news is “disreputable and extremely destructive.” He was way ahead of his time.
Dowd’s piece is a must-read for PR firms, which must ask themselves what roles they play in the trivialization of news. Many have quit the traditional job of seeking third-party media endorsement for the fun of social media. What’s left of the “reputable media” plays second fiddle to snappy and ever so cool postings on Facebook and Twitter.
Young people talk about “addiction” to online games rather than real-world information or finding solutions to the myriad of problems faced by the U.S. We are raising a self-absorbed “don’t want to know anything” generation. What ramifications with that have on the country?
Meanwhile, Big Media rolls on, oblivious to its responsibility to be honest brokers with the job of delivering unvarnished truth (not junk) to the public that they are supposed to service. Profits come first.
NBC is currently under the gun for apparently editing the eloquent plea for human rights made by IOC president Thomas Bach during opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Games. Though he didn’t point any finger at the anti-gay crusade of Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin, Bach stressed the need to “live together under one roof in harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason.” Message sent.
Shamefully, NBC decided those words were too delicate for the ears of U.S. viewers. It prefers to curry favor with its patron Putin. Images of the deplorable Putin were featured frequently yesterday during the Russian ice dancing team’s romp. Following its victory, the leader of the squad praised his president for bringing Russia such a glorious Olympics.
NBC has nothing to fear from Putin. Its toadyism is only equal to RT, Russia’s cable/online site that features the clueless Larry King.
And then there is Rupert Murdoch, who is in a class of his own when it comes to comicalization. Fox News has taken the rag-tag Tea Party collection of losers and propped it up to provide never-ending light-hearted fun at the expense of the President and the American way of governing. Tune in tonight to see the wrath of Tea Partiers, spewing inanities. Fox gives Comedy Central a run for its money.
As administrations come and go, Fox goes with the flow, shifting with the partisan winds. It’s equally comfortable with the role of chief propaganda cheerleader (e.g., George Bush’s disastrous wars of choice to fill GOP political coffers) or No. 1 attack-dog (Obamacare/immigration reform/minimum wage hikes). Rupert is Paddy’s Exhibit A.
arthursolomon (Feb. 12, 2014): A few hours after writing my original comments, a perfect example of what Kevin Foley wrote was on Brian Williams', NBC Nightly News, supposedly a hard news network show. He spent about half the program talking about the Olympics, devoid of hard news. Then on the same program, Lester Holt interviewed an athlete. Good gosh. I would never have known that NBC was televising the Olympics, if not for Williams and Holt.
arthursolomon (Feb. 12, 2014): Like Sam Waltz, I too read four papers a day - The NYT, WSJ, USA TODAY and my local pub. In the evenings, with my wife, I watch a half-hour local news and a half-hour national news, during which I often point out stories that, as Kevin Foley says, are obviously meant to promote their own network's shows. The cable networks should be prevented from labeling themselves news networks, except, for the time being, CNN, the "car chase" station. The worst part of TV news are the Sunday morning political shows, which are nothing but propaganda outlets for opposing political parties. If any of the hosts ever asked a tough question or challenged the replies, I must have missed it when dozing off because of the same old, same old guests and questions and answers, week after week.
As for the Thomas Bach remarks, it will take more than his words for me to believe he means what he said, given his background before elected to head the IOC. Words are cheap. Actions more difficult
Joe Honick, GMA International Ltd (Feb. 11, 2014): This is an urgently necessary subject for still broader review. What we now see on FOX and even beginning on CNN to keep pace is appalling but hardly new. I hope you may have opened some willingness for flacks to admit the heavy pressure on news.
Bill Huey (Feb. 10, 2014): Old Howard Beale would really flip out if he saw Fox News. Or maybe FN was what Chayefsky was predicting.
Sam Waltz (Feb. 10, 2014): Attaboy, Kevin, I'm with you 100% When I read Ms Dowd's column on Sunday, I was thinking exactly the same as your Opinion Piece. I hate it that my own young adults mistake Satire (e.g., the Daily Show) for real news. I still read 4 newspapers a day, and a watch an hour of TV news, network and local. It's a steep fall to an uninformed electorate and society, but I'm afraid we're in so deep that more people know who Kim Kardashian appears to be than Nancy Pelosi!
Kevin Foley (Feb. 10, 2014): "What would he think of ominous corporate 'synergy' run amok, where 'news' seamlessly blends into promotion, where it’s frighteningly easy for corporate commercial interests to dictate editorial content?" asks Dowd.
Guess who's the biggest corporate commercial interest? The networks themselves, which shamelessly use their news operations to promote whatever their entertainment divisions are flogging. It's been that way for years.
Dowd is wrong. Intelligent viewers recognize what news is an is not and gravitate to other fare, be it NPR, PBS News Hour or the Internet where there are a countless number of serious, non-commercial news sites with real information.