I used to like to watch the news on TV. In the morning I could check it out before my day got started, and in the evening I could get an update on the day's occurrences before going to bed. Not too much of that going on now. Quite frankly, I detest most of the so-called news now because it's nothing more than political one-upsmanship and "gotcha" reporting. Much of it comprises a tattle-tale mentality among totally biased commentators rather than real news journalists and reporters. The sad part is that Black people suffer the most from this charade of useless information by folks who couldn't care less about anyone except themselves and their political agendas.
Somewhat reminiscent of the 1976 movie, "Network" today's news shows mimic the main theme of that movie: Desperate measures to increase ratings. As a matter of fact, the writers of "Network" unknowingly predicted what our news shows would look like today. Watch it and see what I mean. Networks suffering from low ratings resort to parody, accusations, hypocrisy, innuendo, half-truths, and character assassinations to increase their ratings, all at the expense of their lemming-like viewers. What do they use to accomplish this? Politics, of course.
The two worse culprits are MSNBC and Fox, the dueling ideological networks. Of course, the old guard network news shows, ABC, NBC, and CBS are also lowering their standards more and more as well. Seems they are more into entertainment and shock value than simply reporting the "news" in an unbiased manner.
We have come to a place where news is nothing more than just views. And each one of us should do what Howard Beale did, open our window and scream, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." But that won't happen because we just love political rhetoric so much. We see millionaires arguing over political ideology, and we suck it up like it's a delicious milkshake — empty calories and no substance.
Before finishing this column I made myself watch the "dueling networks" one night. MSNBC carried nonstop shows denigrating Chris Christie and his George Washington Bridge scandal. Of course, that is an effort to tear down a leading GOP presidential candidate for 2016. On the other hand, over on Fox, they were constantly haranguing the Democrats' leading candidate, Hillary Clinton with the manufactured Benghazi issue.
The evening is filled with diametrically opposed "views" on politics, which they want us to believe is real "news." MSNBC is hopelessly in love with Barack Obama, who can do no wrong in the eyes of their commentators; Fox hates Barack Obama, and anything he does is lambasted, lampooned, and vilified.
Hypocrisy abounds. The most egregious is Fox News' outrage over the four lives lost in Benghazi, the lies they say were told, Hillary's responsibility in the matter, and calling for a full investigation to prove their point. All of this while failing to do the same thing during the Iraq war where over 5,000 lives were lost, lies were told by Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell, and no one was held accountable for ignoring the daily briefing papers that noted an airplane attack was highly probable.
They say Hillary should be held accountable for Benghazi but not Condoleezza for Iraq. Obama, when he won the first time refused to call a special prosecutor to hold any of the culprits responsible for 5000 plus soldiers killed—a big mistake—but now for four lives, albeit just as precious, Fox is self-righteously outraged.
MSNBC's inclination is nearly everything Democrat. They talk, ad nauseam, about the evil Republicans, gay rights, the virtues of Obamacare, and of course Bridge-gate; Obama walks on water, and Hillary is the second coming of Joan of Arc. It's an endless rhetorical parade of how bad the Republicans are and how great the Democrats are doing. Black people have literally fallen for what Harold Cruse called "noneconomic liberalism" from the Democrats.
What does all of this mean to and for Black people? The answer: Nothing. Our unemployment rate is still twice as high as the national average; we are still disproportionately incarcerated, we are still murdering one another at alarming rates, and we are still mired in a never-ending and never-winning political charade, having left the Republican plantation 75 years ago and now stuck on the Democrat plantation, and still maachin' for voting rights.
As the network wars proceed, Black folks recede. We are left with Hobson choices, Catch 22 predicaments, and no-win political conundrums, all while falling deeper into the abyss of economic desperation. The views of those political ideologues on MSNBC and Fox, and some on CNN, who talk about racism and other condescending issues, should be shunned — turned off. All they are trying to do is direct your vote, by giving us their views rather than real news.
To borrow a line from the movie, Network, "You are television incarnate . . . All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality."
[Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation's most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.]