Sunday, November 11, 2007

Schlock and Awww

How one observes Veterans' Day is a foil that reveals one's worldview. On NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday I waited in vain to hear about how current veterans are honored for their service with the freedom to sleep on the streets. Or how many veterans are speaking out against the war (and slandered for or prevented from doing so). How about the virtual conscription of stop-loss that active military face?

I waited to hear something about who benefits from the terrible sacrifices (the numbers often downplayed in the media) of veterans, instead of the silliness about sacrifices made to "defend us."

Instead of anything shedding light on the exploitation of US military men and women in an illegal war of aggression and consequent occupation all I got was a ridiculous in-depth report on the crack (OH MY!) in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, DC (should it be repaired or replaced?) Yes, I'll be losing sleep over that controversy. This was followed by a long, solemn advertisement for the military-religious music CD being released by Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

All this is especially galling given that NPR does have a reporter who often does right by the issues that veterans face - and that would be Daniel Zwerdling.


Porter Melmoth said...

I get the feeling that Zwerdling might be somewhat of an embarrassment to the more cheerleading members of NPR. He has obviously been sidelined, though I'm sure the managing editors keep him in semi-circulation to appear 'fair and balanced' to those thinking masses that make up their aging audiences. Zwerdling might even have to fight to get his stories aired. In any case, he doesn't seem to be in on the palsey-walsey comraderie that, say, Liane seems to enjoy with that Welna character (you know, the guy with the extremely distracting nasaly voice). Though he seems relegated to token status, as NPR's reporter of stories few others wish to take on, Zwerdling maintains his integrity with a real sense of responsibility. Meanwhile, most of his colleagues are digging their cushy candy store gigs.


I find the bland approach that these weekend morning hosts apply to their interviews with important people in current events extremely curious. Scott Simon cops an interview with Al Gore, but botches it entirely by treating him like he's some tiresome insurance salesman or something. Liane scores a phone interview with Benazir Bhutto, yet puts about as much journalistic energy into it as a dry slug who's run out of slime. It's as if they're too cool to show that they're either impressed by the magnitude of their guests, or a refusal to employ reasonable (not to mention interesting) journalistic practices of merit. Yet, they get all wiggly and giggly and drooly interviewing some boring novelist or dogcatcher with a funny story that they can tut-tut about between smirky laughs.

It's just crappy radio, that's all.
(I feel like Kevin Phillips, who once stated on PBS’ ‘Now’ that he was their Resident Curmudgeon.)

You know it's a flop of a morning show when the most sickening element is Liane's goopy interaction with the Puzzlemaster's guest of the week, and she tries in vain to vary the horribly predictable scripting of the whole Puzzle segment . . .

PLUS: I hate the story-telling nature of the scripted bridges between stories, those tiresome background summaries for dummies, the same sort of schlock that's taken over Time and Newsweek, yet they'd like you to think they have the sophistication of The Economist or equivalent.

We have a new local weekend host who's pretty amateurish, I'm afraid. I kind of feel sorry for him, yet he's not easy to endure. He hasn't even learned how to properly engineer yet (if he ever will), and says stuff like: the 'Voices in the News' bit is his favorite part of the show, as it gives him 'chills' to listen to! Funny, I always thought it was annoying, because it's just a jumble of sound bytes spliced together with an impatient music track behind, and it always leaves you in the lurch, as if, 'so there!' I guess it's supposed to stimulate your early Sunday morning by bringing up conversation points for you and your Starbucks-gulping Dockers-wearing, FloMax-popping SUV-driving mates to chew over, like pieces of gristle.

And finally, perhaps most importantly, has anybody noticed how NPR refuses to descend to the level of reporting on most of the Republican sex scandals that keep popping up with breathtaking regularity? I suppose that after Scott Simon’s elegant and Lincoln-like defense of Larry Craig, the bar has remained at its high and noble level – intact. They don’t ‘do’ sex scandals, apparently, unless you’re Mara ‘Zombie-Eyes’ Liasson and Bob ‘Pursed-Lips’ Siegel, in hot pursuit of Bill ‘B-J’ Clinton.

Well, I'd better leave off before I really start hating myself for dissecting this interminable blah-blah-blah radio matter to such an extent . . . !

Anonymous said...

Well, dang - I've nothing to add to that! And shucks, Ms. Hanson's lil' slot is but a stranger and a bad memory to me now. Sure sounds like there's been no change since. (shocking!)

Anonymous said...

Zwerdling does not have the decision making power on what is covered...
remember this from 2002?

Anonymous said...

Today I heard a totally different Veterans' Day report. The only public voices were those of gwb and cheney. Most of the program was on how poorly Veit Nam veterans were treated by us when they got home. Now I was very much alive then, and I never saw any of this alleged behaviour, nor has anyone ever mentioned to me being thusly abused. The real abusers were the DoD who drafted them, fucked them up, and the VA which let them rot in the streets. And don't forget the VFW, which flat out didn't recognize their service. While the show MyTWords heard sounds insipid, this one was really in your face and uber-patriotic. And it was so refreshing to hear cheney's ;views on other people's going to war at his behest.
Thanks for the great link, rougegorge.