The No-Talent Show

I have often groused dyspeptically about the tawdry circus acts that have replaced political discourse in this country, and the insulting way in which our media stars never fail eat it up, like slow children gazing in slack-jawed amazement at an unusually bad magician. Such misguided adulation then trickles down to the  dumber members of the audience, and we are presented a fun house world where content-free vaudeville is really all that matters.  Words are stripped of all meaning, history is torn apart and rewritten, and lies, pithily constructed and endlessly adaptable are let loose like toxic gas over the airwaves, leaving understandably annoyed Americans both infuriated and befuddled in equal measure, and it’s all made to look like an accident in retrospect by the clearly impaired drivers who had been at the wheel during the recent unpleasantness.

In response to the well-deserved disrepute our media has so richly earned from the public for such unforgivable lameness, the solution has not been to improve quality and try not to misinform so, but rather to bring in new “talent” to serve up the same old swill.  Fortunately for, say, David Gregory, the media defines “talent” rather loosely.  Unfortunately for the long-suffering news consumer, the trajectory of “talent” is always downward; witness the NYT’s slide from Safire to Brooks to Kristol to Douthat…  who’s next, Drudge?  Britney Spears?  The LA Times dropped Robert Scheer to make room for Jonah Goldberg’s substantial bulk, and look how that turned out.  Desperate measures make for desperate times, but count on these lame rags to blame Y2K or el nino for their troubles.

Over at FOX, the dilemma was a little different, as you’d expect.  But media-savvy little Rovettes that they are there, they knew they needed something big to appeal to that ever elusive under-70 crowd; Bill O’Reilly was too sober, and as Murdoch himself said, maybe Hannity was a bit “academic.”  Enter Glenn Beck stage right, and then some.  Now, as Q-ratings go, you wouldn’t think Beck would have been the most obvious choice; he’s pasty and pudgy, beady eyed and dumb-looking, and his voice sounds like Richard Simmons without the “accent.”  Besides which, he’s utterly uneducated, bereft of any journalistic experience, and, well, to call him histrionic would be like calling Ann Coulter “outgoing.”  But therein lies the Beck magic; the “rodeo clown” FOX needed to reel in younger dumb people, and as a bonus, to make the network’s universally abysmal “journalism” look almost respectable by comparison.  Win, win.

In such an post-journalism environment , it was inevitable that Sarah Palin’s high heels would come clicking onto the stage.  Since nobody was asking any questions anyway, why wouldn’t a politician not bother to have any answers, even scribbled on a 3 x 5 card like Reagan used to?  That gal can just waltz onto any FOX show and say something like this:

“Scares me the road that he [President Obama] has us on, not seeming to understand what it is that built up America’s economic system, the free enterprise principles, the shrinkage of government, not the expansion to allow the private sector to grow and to thrive and to do what it does best and our families keep more of what they earned, so that they can reinvest and prioritize instead of government doing it for them, which is a step towards socialism. So some of the steps we’re taking economically right now scare the heck out of me.”

I’m scared too, mostly that that woman has a driver’s license, but to Bill O’Reilly, that speech was all but Churchillian.  He was no doubt too busy loofah-ing her in his mind to notice the tumbleweeds behind her eyes, but honestly.  He may think his audience is dumb, but surely they speak English?  Disturbingly, the answer is probably yes, since Palin finished up thusly:

“. . . what Reagan did . . . he boiled it all down to this. He looked at our enemies, enemies around the world, and he said, we win, you lose. That’s what I want to see and feel and hear from our new administration, from President Obama.”

Alrighty, then.  You can just imagine that over in the next studio, Glenn Beck’s Red Phone to the President is ringing off the hook, offering her the cabinet-level position of Queen of the Department of Law.  Or something.

Please….  If politics is going to henceforth be a talent show, would it be too much to ask that it contain some, uh, talent?


  1. timothy3 says:

    I’m scared too, mostly that that woman has a driver’s license.

    And here’s Palin’s undeniably Churchillian pitch for the presidency:

    I believe that I am (qualified) because I have common sense, and I have, I believe, the values that are reflective of so many other American values. And I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the kind of a spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with some kind of elite Ivy League education and a fact resume that’s based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles. Americans could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership.

    And then, perhaps realizing how much she sounds like an elite Ivy Leaguer with that incoherent run-on sentence, she adds

    I’m not saying that has to be me.

    • cocktailhag says:

      She doesn’t have to say it. Let David Gregory or Gwen Ifill do that. Perhaps it’s possible that they understand something in those jumbles of words we don’t, but I give them no such credit.
      I’m thinking of a “Palin/Churchill: Separated at Birth” series. Take a Palin quote and a Churchill one side by side, and have the audience guess which is which.

      • timothy3 says:

        Unfortunately for the long-suffering news consumer, the trajectory of “talent” is always downward; witness the NYT’s slide from Safire to Brooks to Kristol to Douthat… who’s next, Drudge? Britney Spears?

        Yes indeedy. If you were a high school teacher (which I was for a short time) what sort of grade would you give Palin’s statement–even as a statement of candidacy for high school president?
        And that’s a pretty fair analysis of Beck’s role at Fox. But he reads a lot of history, he tells us,

        And (progressives) thought, “you know what, if we just do this and this and this and this, over time if we do it in both the Republican and Democratic parties, we will have our socialist utopia.”

        so we’ve been put on notice that he’ll soon deliver his “100 Year Plan” to cure what ails us.

        If we see “Palin/Beck 2012″ bumper stickers (which we will), we’ll know the Mayans were right.
        (By the way, I see I beat NailheadTom to the punch here as first responder [as we Homeland Security supporters say].)

        • cocktailhag says:

          I just watched that Beck Florida (retirement home) speech. I think we have a bumfight for 2012: Beck, Dobbs, Palin…. Gibbon would be aghast at the tawdry collapse of our empire, but as a liberal I say, “Bring it on.”

    • cocktailhag says:

      Now I want to go see that cheesy movie, sysprog. The destruction scenes looked awesome. Of course, the Palin part I could do without, but it’s a nice juxtaposition.

  2. sysprog says:


    Did Murdoch actually say that?
    Yes. Here’s the clip.

    “Hannity – - very clearly, you know, a pretty academic conservative”

    So . . . then . . . what did Murdoch mean?

    Pronunciation: \ˌa-kə-ˈde-mik\
    Variant(s): ac·a·dem·i·cal \-mi-kəl\
    Function: adjective
    Date: 1588

    1 : of, relating to, or associated with an academy or school especially of higher learning

    2 : of or relating to literary or artistic rather than technical or professional studies

    3 : having no practical or useful significance

    4 : conforming to the traditions or rules of a school (as of literature or art) or an official academy

    Murdoch must’ve been thinking of definition # 3.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Thanks for adding richness and documentation to what I couldn’t have made up if I tried, sysprog. The research department here at CHNN is notoriously lax, but when somebody calls Hannity “academic,” we stop the presses. I was rendered uncharacteristically speechless when I heard it; that’s why it took so long for it to turn up here.