Wednesday, October 11, 2006


They invited me to take the “Sex Scandal Quiz.” MSNBC told me, at the hard breaks, that all I had to do was to log on and I could take the quiz that would test my knowledge of sex scandals in Washington over the last decade. Being the Luddite I am, I could only think of one other than the current instant messaging scandal and while that other one was abhorrent, it seems to me it did involve people who were of the age of majority. I felt kinda bad. Seems I haven’t been paying enough attention to sex scandals. I’ve been way too consumed by rogue nation nuclear ambitions.

Meanwhile, mighty mergers have taken place with nary a mention by the daily broadsides.

I think it was in elementary school when I first heard the term “Yellow Journalism.” That was in reference to William Randolph Hearst’s coverage of the Spanish-American War. As I understand it, his newspapers whipped up an American frenzy of support, through specious reporting, for kicking the snot out of Spain. Years ago I met an elderly woman who told me she remembered seeing the headline “To Hell with Spain, Remember the Maine” on her father’s newspaper as he sipped his morning coffee. Somebody even made a movie based on Hearst’s manipulation of the news, I believe it was called “Citizen Kane.”

That was a million years ago. But as they say “Everything old is new again.” So it goes with the “Sex Scandal Quiz.”

With the media it’s always a Three Card Monte. As long as you are looking here you needn’t look there.

What I want to know is whether or not the Run Away Bride will prevail in her lawsuit against her ex-fiancé.

My husband mightily disappointed me last night. He did not know the first name of the now infamous congressman whose emails and instant messages have rocked the free world. He told me it was the least of his worries and he just hadn’t been paying attention. Geesh!

But here I am sweating the details of media. Trying to make sure the evil cable empires make good on their franchises, which they never do. I saw one the other day that laid out support for the access channel, including money and equipment, and sure enough, no such support has been forth coming for the last decade. Nunca. I guess the cable op was way too busy following the sex scandal craze to pay attention and the town was way too small to carry that big stick. Now what’s the solution? Jump up and down, scream, or go to court?

at&t merges with BellSouth with no conditions but the burning question is what exactly did Barbara Streisand say at that concert? Not that it’s inconsequential, Babs is, after all, a seminal figure. It’s just that I calculate sixty dollars per subscriber per month to figure what a cable operator is pulling out of a community. I calculate deliberately low because those numbers are shocking enough on their own. I mean I am talking about video not to mention modem and phone which we all know amps it up to about double that amount even with promotions. Even when I do the sixty buck calculation, people gasp, and yet the rotten bean heads cry poor mouth when it comes to franchise fees and support for PEG.

And if it weren’t for all those folks in local communities putting their collective feet down, demanding channels and support, we’d just have more and more “Sex Scandal Quizzes.” Not that PEG channels are on the cutting edge of journalism but then somebody needs to explain to me what exactly is the cutting edge of journalism?

I don’t know. I am just musing about that old lady who was born late in the 19th century who remembers that headline. It’s always been there, the sensational approach. I guess until Ted Turner got into the game it just wasn’t there 24/7.

So we, on this anemic side of things, get our little channels and show city council meetings and dog fairs and high school marching bands. And we have to fight like gladiators to do so. I’d bet the collective blood pressure of people who do and regulate franchises is somewhere around 200 over 150. But we do it.

Maybe because we get it.

We get that “Sex Scandal Quizzes” aren’t necessarily news, that the real news is what happened at city council last night and how many dogs are in the shelter and who won the marching band competition. The kinda stuff that won’t launch a thousand ships, or turn an election. The kinda stuff that makes life any kind of a thing worth living whatsoever.

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