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Daze of My Life: Staying Current with Their Events

Daze of My Life
Staying Current with Their Events

I may be late to the party, but nevertheless, I have finally arrived. To what do I refer? Social status? Hardly. Literary circles? Still a square peg. A higher-end automobile? I could care less. Clothes to finally fit this man? Not even in my wife's dreams. A new lower weight to more appropriately match my height? Yeah, right. Money, means, and opportunity? No, and no motive, either. No, to what I refer to is the party of viewers who regularly watch the Mon. through Fri. prime time evening news programs on FNC, MSNBC and CNN. Programs hosted by a variety of polarizing, far right, far left, moderate centrists-types talking (sometimes shouting) their heads off about the news of the day, and week, and all the news that's fit to discuss. With assistance from guests and experts galore: in-studio, via satellite, on the phone, or from some other remote feed; anyone and everyone, all in pursuit of equal justice for most.
Programs with whom you may be and now I am somewhat familiar; on FNC: Fox Report with Shepard Smith, The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes and On The Record with Greta Van Susteren; on MSNBC: Tucker (with Tucker Carlson formerly of Crossfire), Hardball with Chris Matthews, Countdown with Keith Obermann, Scarborough Country (with ex-GOP Congressman) and on CNN: Situation Room (with Wolf Blitzer), Paula Zahn Now, Larry King Live, and Anderson Cooper 360. It's a world I knew existed but one in which I rarely resided.
I've found that watching and listening, and yes, learning from more educated individuals than me, is a much easier way to stay current with the news and notes of the day than scanning the newspapers or accessing the internet.
Granted, many of these programs--and their hosts--may have their own axes to grind and their own particular points of view to purvey but, so what? By switching channels and in turn switching opinions, I am exposed (I didn't say subjected), to a multi-cultural cross-section of Constitutionally protected, free speech. And though I may not be ready to talk intelligently about any of it, still, I feel I won't be talking (or "opine" as Bill O'Reilly says), as stupidly and cluelessly as I might otherwise have done.
I have noticed in my first few weeks of consistently watching 7pm to 11pm shows, that there is a crossover of guests; sometimes on the very same night, sometimes on the very same channel (different programs, though), and often on different channels (on the same or different nights), channels whose political leanings, i.e., liberal or conservative, are well known and whose viewing audience (constituency would be too strong a word since none of the program's hosts are elected officials) is well represented in polling figures frequently presented by the in-studio hosts. So the guests understand to whom their words will be most likely be directed.
Still, I wouldn't call the pursuit of the same big name guests, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Michael Chertoff, and Condoleezza Rice, as a few examples of popular guests appearing recently a feeding frenzy; especially since the appearance on these programs serves not only the purposes of the producers but also the purposes of the guests as well.
For the guests, these programs serve as a platform from which they can, among other goals, advocate their position, confront their accusers or clarify their actions; in a relatively benign environment and reach millions of viewers with whom they might not otherwise connect. For the programs, these appearances can create industry buzz, popularity and reputation.
Television programming is an extremely competitive business; now throw in the potential to win the hearts and minds of the viewing public at home and abroad, and you have a combustible combination of money, power and influence that is simply too tempting a prize. Nevertheless, I find the shows interesting and informative and the personalities stimulating. And though the programs formats are fairly similar, it's their multitude of differences (opinions) that has attracted me.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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