A tiny blow for civilityI was thrilled to read this editorial in The Chicago Tribune about the demise of the CNN show Crossfire.
Crossfire, and shows of its ilk, are the worst in television that passes for public affairs programming. They are not about civilized debate. They are not about advancing the public's understanding of anything. They are about screaming and shouting and name-calling. They are about pandering to prejudices of one side or another. They are about oversimplification and sound bites. They are about noise.
They treat political and social issues in exact same way that ESPN treats sports: as a game, as more about the participants than the issues. Except reforming (or whatever verb you want to use) Social Security is not a game. Insecurity caused by the Bush administration's blunders is not a game.
Quite simply, yap shows like Crossfire are fundamentally no different than professional wrestling or Jerry Springer, but at least the latter two lack the false pretense of useful discourse.
I can honestly say I despise those shows and everything they represent and the way they've destroyed reasonable debate in this country. They've made people believe that passionate debate and civilized debate are mutually exclusive.
[Incidentally, the editorial noted In an ABC News survey, 85 percent of respondents said that the world would be better if we said "please" and "thank you" more. If people actually believed this, then would yap shows and Springer have such large audiences?]
The end of Crossfire is a welcome change to the already way-too-shrill television landscape. Now all we need is for The McLaughlin Group, The Capital Gang and a majority of the programming on Fox News and MSNBC to follow.