Cable news is destrying America...I know because I watch it 24/7

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

So after four years of living with super-basic cable, Dan and I finally broke down and got satellite TV. Now instead of flipping through just seven stations of absolutely nothing, we can flip through 100 stations of absolutely nothing. We’re so excited! 
Ironically, the dish arrived just a few weeks after I indulged in a 30-minute rant with my friends about the evils of cable news. With so much air-time to fill, pundits and commentators on networks like Fox News and MSNBC spend hours hashing and re-hashing the day’s political news to the point that the lines between opinion and objective reporting are blurred, if not unabashedly ignored. As a result, there’s a lot of preaching to the choir going on over the airwaves these days. When you can simply tune in to whichever “reporter” best reflects your political views, you only sink deeper and deeper into your already held beliefs, which is never good for productive and enlightening dialog. 

And yet I feel inexplicably drawn to the 24/7 coverage of the 2008 election. I rationalize my habit by telling myself that, as a responsible citizen, I should make sure I am an informed voter. (Too bad I’ve already made up my mind!) Maybe it’s the excitement of the sharp point-counterpoint debates of the commentators, or perhaps the flashing “breaking news” graphics that pop up with every little dip in Obama’s poll numbers or every slip of the stock market, or perhaps it’s the crawling news scroll that announces everything from Lindsey Lohan’s most recent relapse to the report of another soldier’s death in Iraq. I feel like I’m getting addicted to fast food for the brain. 

However, today I had a moment of hope...a small serving of veggies among a day of trans-fatty analysis and partially hydroginated opinion polls. Flipping through my myriad of stations, I landed on good ole’ Georgia Public Broadcasting, where Jim Lehr was reporting the evening  news. The reports were long and somewhat academic. No bright graphics, no sound effects, and no spin. Lehr’s guests, who were experts on foreign relations and the economy, were actually  allowed to finish their sentences. It was refreshing. It was peaceful. It was a bit boring. 

So while it’s nice to know that I can check the day’s headlines whenever I want with the click of a remote control, it’s also nice to know that there’s still some actual reporting going on out there…even though it’s on a station we already had.

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