Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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    Introducing The Stupid Channel (sponsored by

    By on May 6, 2014 in See It Here

    May 6, 2014

    In one of those brief moments between newscasts a few days ago, I was looking at the some of the stories available: one was Cliven Bundy telling someone that he was misquoted in the media though he still thinks “negroes” are better off as slaves while some group called the Oath Keepers were saying Attorney General Eric Holder had approved a drone strike near the Bundy ranch to rid the area of Bundy’s self-appointed militia supporters.

    And then there’s NBA owner Donald Sterling who is right up there with Cliven. And then Dennis Rodman says his “best friend” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle really wasn’t executed and fed to the dogs because he had just seen him during a recent diplomatic visit.

    The news business requires us to tell the world what’s going on. But, in this time of social media,  anyone with a Twitter account can offer everyone else their feelings about a topic in 140 words along with Facebook posts and iPhone pics. News has started telling us what’s “trending” which means here’s what’s being read online. I understand we use the Internet to get the news but I don’t care that more people are reading about Chicago’s mayor being upset about schools than are reading about a cruise ship running aground in the Hudson River. But we do it because, well, because we can.

    As you’ve probably noticed, television (and radio and magazines and even newspapers) operate in a world of   “need-it-now-don’t waste-my-time” and “you-won’t see-this-anywhere-else” along with “exclusive” hype. The result is non-news can now sit on the same stage with real news. And every time it gets the chance, it does so with a loud voice.

    I find myself coming back to the words of Bill Clinton: “we’re better than this.”

    Indeed, many newscasts will use a cute story at the end (it’s called a “kicker”) just to leave the viewer or listener with a nice feeling after telling us that 46 people are dead in tornadoes or 327 are missing in a ferry sinking or that Harry Reid is angry with the failed vote on the minimum wage  bill. I understand that and there’s a place for this. But covering stupid things is showing up on the stage more and more.

    In the past month, all the television talk shows were filled with hosts and guests “outraged” at Donald Sterling. It went on for days. Before that, the same shows, spent more time being “outraged” at Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s stupid words than on the issue of whether his cattle really are illegally grazing on Bureau of Land Management property. And every time Dennis Rodman has another intellectual gem about his best friend, it’s another wasted thirty seconds on nonsense instead of using that time for something worthwhile. Stupid is taking more and more of our time.

    Would it make sense to just throw all of this on TSC:  The Stupid Channel –“Give us 22 minutes and we’ll show you every clown we can.” That way, there would be room for news on newscasts. And maybe we would learn something other than there are a lot of morons near a microphone.

    No, I didn’t use any of those stories in the next newscast.

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