Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in the Neighborhood for teachers everywhere! Anything and everything is fair game!

Shock Jocks, The Media, Rush Limbaugh and to HELL with NOW December 18, 2007

Pulling the Plug on Electronic and Print News

Having spent a few years on this planet (just enough, not too many), I had the joy of growing up as television evolved in the 1960’s. I had a chance to watch some of the gods of television news during my youth: Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite and others. I don’t remember Edward R. Murrow, but I learned of him studying journalism in college.

Through the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, the forces that made television news reliable and balanced began to mutate. One memorable event was when Roone Arledge, the genius behind ABC’s Wide World of Sports, became the news guru for the network. This marked a progression from news as a public service to news as entertainment (and a profitable source for advertising revenues).

Another memorable moment (in the midst of tremendous sadness) was when the American Embassy in Tehran was stormed in 1979 and ABC began running an 11:30 PM review of the day’s events called America Held Hostage: Day xx with Ted Koppel. Although we were later spared the indignity of this ridiculous title when the program was renamed Nightline, we have since been subjected to a never-ending stream of ludicrous monikers for heart-breaking news events and boring news stories (doesn’t AMERICA DECIDES sound so wonderfully thrilling?).

The final event worth noting was the birth and expansion of cable/satellite TV and the swelling of available channels into the hundreds. As a kid growing up outside New York City, we were blessed with ABC, NBC and CBS along with three independents (WOR, WPIX, and WNEW) plus WNET, the PBS station. How the heck did we survive with so few choices?

Network news programs at 6:00 PM were soon preceded by local news. Local news programs expanded to an hour. Ted Turner launched CNN. Before we knew it, we had talking heads shouting news and fluff at us 24/7 on dozens of channels, each competing for advertising revenues and audience shares by shoving every conceivable story under our noses. Thus, the mutation of true news stories into “no-news” news, sound bytes, spin and every imaginable human interest story possible.


On Dec. 18, another ridiculous news story was used as a tease for close to 45 minutes during the news by FOX-TV in NYC to keep their audience riveted to their advertising messages (which I did not see because, as a master of remote control science, I was flipping back and forth to Seinfeld). Finally, I got disgusted waiting and went to my normal online news sources. A summary of Rush Limbaugh’s comments can be found at from Australia’s News.Com (I like reading stories without the spin prevalent in American media and an ample dose of anti-American commentary).

The Limbaugh comments were inspired by a picture of Hillary Clinton on The Drudge Report’s web site … frankly, Hillary looks exactly like the way I feel when I think about her running for President (yes, that horrific). The News.Com web site quotes Limbaugh rather thoroughly so I suggest that you see the comments in a somewhat “stand-alone” context. But I have problems with the reporting of this story … it is more “non-news” news designed to inspire outrage.

The term “shock jock” is an overused, inappropriate, inaccurate and idiotic idiom in the media. Radio personalities are people with opinions and points of view that apparently draw listeners. I refuse to read most newspapers because their editorials and reporting slants are just sheer propaganda (and that’s from both sides of the political aisle). If you don’t like the radio station or you don’t like the radio personality (whether it’s the opinions, looks, music taste, sound, attitude, voice or whatever), turn the damn dial and stop telling us how the show is killing you.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of people complaining about “what he said” or “what she said” or “what they said.” It sounds like a bunch of people sitting around and stuffing their faces with moose turd pie (if you don’t know the story, click HERE for an audio file of Utah Phillips at his best).

As News.Com quoted, Limbaugh was very careful to say to his audience, “I want you to understand that I’m talking about the evolution of American culture here, and not so much Mrs. Clinton.” Granted, it is a sad fact of life, as my precious Rosalita reminds me every ten minutes, that age is often much kinder to men than women. The age of a woman has never really affected my view of her beauty because age is a natural part of life. However, I’ve endured more than my fair share of women suffering through the onset of their latter years.

Limbaugh, in essence, was questioning the electoral process in this country that places a high value on looks and appearance. It is not a valid point in determining who might make the best president but, since our presidents are more like TV and media stars than real leaders, you can bet that it will be a consideration by many.

Limbaugh’s real point is that America is a society obsessed with image and appearance. If you have any doubts about that, then how do you explain boob jobs, Botox, health clubs, fad diets, cosmetic surgery and every other physically self-indulgent product and service on which Americans blow billions of dollars? Many young women have paid a small fortune for the plastic in their chests and butts … enough money to feed an entire African village for a year or to get dozens of impoverished American children the medical attention they need. Priorities?

Do you think that Media Matters for America, George Soros and Clinton money are behind the “uproar” being embraced by the media over Limbaugh’s comments? Probably … Limbaugh is one of the main targets of the Democratic Party. Was there a cheap shot at Hillary in Limbaugh’s comments? Probably, but who really cares? We know Limbaugh hates Hillary. If you are a man or a woman who thinks Limbaugh is evil or stupid or inhuman, turn the damn dial and don’t listen.

Of course, we have to get commentary on this non-news news from another divisive force in America, the National Organization of Women. If you think that the kind of prejudice that Limbaugh discussed exists, gentle NOW supporters, then join me in fighting to eliminate America’s pathetic obsession with boobs, butts, beauty queens, tattoos, Botox, cosmetics, steroids, HGH, plastic surgery and all the other trappings. Before you condemn Limbaugh for his remarkable grasp of the obvious, attack the source of the problem: AMERICAN attitudes and our self-indigent psyche.

For the rest of you, turn off your damn TV’s. Stop watching the news and learn to read. Forget the newspapers … there are lots of balanced news sources on line (learn to “see” the spin). Stop watching the TV commercials and stop reading the beauty magazines and stop wishing you were some anorexic babe or “six-pack” guy. GET HEALTHY FOR THE SAKE OF GOOD HEALTH AND LONG LIFE.

Learn to live with the boobs, and butts and johnsons that the Good Lord gave you. Learn to love people for what is in their hearts, minds and souls … not the number of piercings in their nipples, navels, lips, ears, noses, tongues and elsewhere. Worry about what you can do to love your neighbor and stop getting trapped by insignificant stuff in the mass media designed to get readers and viewers for their advertisers.

Take responsibility for yourself.

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