Former Reagan and H.W. Bush official Bruce Bartlett tweets The Thinker's Lament:
I sympathize. We all sympathize. But I can also sympathize with the CEO who refuses to proudly stand at the next stockholders' meeting and announce that his cable network or online newspaper dropped a few million of investors' money last quarter in unorthodox honor of reporting real news, while skipping over the horserace shit and reality-show crapola. Something tells me that would be the CEO's last honorable — and employable — moment.
The real reality, as we all know, is about the ratings and the pageviews. It's about consumer demand. And whose fault is that? The supplier's?
Say what you like about the ideologically twisted Pat Buchanan, but I can say this much about one observation he made several years ago. It was lethally spot-on. His remarks came during his "Crossfire" days, in defense of the show's way-too-few segments on foreign policy. "Hey, we tried," he said (and I'm paraphrasing, from memory). "We tried to do somewhat more thoughtful shows on foreign affairs, but our ratings always went to hell. The average American news consumer gives not a damn about the world; on his TV screen, he wants domestic partisan warfare. We (CNN) are a for-profit operation. What would you do?"
Were I a network executive, I know damn well what I'd do. I'd sell out. I'd pull a Willie Sutton and go where the money is: to those overflowing vaults of horserace shit and reality-show crapola. Because that, empirically, is what American voters have always wanted and still want, notwithstanding their thinking laments.