As the New Year gets underway, one wonders what it will bring, as well as whether or not some or all of it will make any sense. Last year was a presidential-election year, so strange things could have been expected to happen…and did. It was book year, for one thing, at least early in the year, as a number of authors used their skills (or lack of them) to try to get George Bush defeated. Later, a bunch of "Swifties" who served in Vietnam at the time John Kerry did, although for much longer than four months, put out their own book, which probably played a huge part in his defeat. They afflicted the public with truths, whereas Kerry, besides releasing only a tiny fraction of his military records, obviously erred in making himself into something of a hero. The public didn't buy it. When people feel the need to explain how special they are, those who are listening are turned off. Democrats will continue to wonder this year, "Wha' hoppened?"
Nor were the writers such as former Treasury Secretary Powell, former security czar Richard Clarke, and Washington Post apparatchik Bob Woodward the only ones out to get the president. Trying to defeat Bush, Michael Moore built a movie on outright lies that earned him millions but did not sway enough voters. Quintessential frustration with the elective process that threatened to reelect Bush was exhibited when CBS hack Dan Rather actually used forged documents, perhaps in conjunction with the DNC people (who knows?), to try to prove…well, what? They proved nothing except that in the name of newsgathering, a supposedly ethically pristine operation allowing for no error, there is great dishonesty. They humiliated themselves, but the head honchos are still in place, including Rather, so their attitude is, "It's in your face, stupid." The final irony was reached when the network hired outsiders to discover where the sins originated, knowing full well where they originated. CBS is so discredited now that none of its people are to be taken seriously, and one wonders if anyone at the network has enough sense to understand that simple fact. CBS will remain discredited this year and for the foreseeable future.
An interesting bit of entertainment in the ABC evening-news slot is offered by the "Peter-Terry Show" or the "Peter-Linda Show." Terry Moran is ABC's White House correspondent and Linda Douglas is a senior Washington correspondent. Jennings, of course, is the august anchor of the show. These sessions are done in question/answer format, with Jennings asking obviously scripted questions and the correspondents replying with obviously scripted answers and placing the "proper" spin on their answers so that the dumb-as-a-gourd public will have the proper, usually sinister, interpretation of the "facts." Apparently, ABC figures the ordinary citizen is unequipped to make judgments about just the news, so the editorial content is offered to make sure the ABC anti-Bush agenda is advanced. This stinks, but it is entertaining and so, so transparent. Laughter is inescapable. Jennings makes his point through voice inflections and body language, never mind the actual news itself, though in terms of easily recognizable hostility, he is no match for CBS's Rather, who appears about ready to explode at times. Will anything change at NBC, ABC, or CBS this year? No. They, along with cable hook-ups MSNBC and CNN, will continue this year and certainly through the tenure of the present administration to be the free propaganda arms for the DNC.
The big deal in 2004, as well as the last ten-twelve years or so, was talk radio. Brought to the fore by Rush Limbaugh in the early 90s, this feature of communication has garnered a large following, nearly all of it conservative politically. Talk hosts are all over the map now, popular in their areas and probably running the conservative-liberal gamut politically, but the biggies are rabidly conservative. Also in the mix and becoming far more popular than the major networks is cable giant Fox News, which claims to be "fair and balanced," but tilts a bit rightward, forming the other side of the political coin as far as the mammoth media are concerned. Look for facts from Limbaugh that will not be found in the major newspapers or on TV outlets of the major networks. Look for common sense at Fox. These formats will become more popular this year, as the populace indicates it is tilting a bit rightward. Winning the election by three million votes was a big deal for Bush, especially since he was said by the major media to be on his way out. The networks were smart enough not to call the election too early last year, as they did in 2000, even though they led the public to believe, on the basis of flawed exit polls, that Bush was as good as gone. There will be more caution by the media this year.
Amber Frey represents the absolutely incomprehensible, insatiable voyeuristic madness that is so much a part of the culture these days. She is, of course, the former mistress of Scott Peterson, who was recently sentenced to death in California for the cruel murder of his pregnant wife. Frey, an ordinary fornicator, is doing the usual rounds of TV shows, advertising her book, capitalizing on the whole sordid affair and making mounds of money in the process. She was the bedmate (or at least one of them) of Peterson while his wife carried their child, neither of whom he wanted as an albatross around his neck, so, instead of the easy process of divorce, he just wasted them, perhaps to escape alimony or child-support payments. It's hard to believe he was dumb enough to think he could get away with it, but part of being dumb is probably the belief one has that he is smarter than anyone else. Will similar things happen this year? Of course! Peterson and O.J. Simpson have set the agenda for titillation, and it seems to be with us now and forever. Shame on anyone who is obsessed with this sordid business and who buys the book, which seems also to have an array of porn pictures of Frey. High-toned literature, of course! Will there be more of this garbage this year? Absolutely, as the nation's collective mores continue to slip.
Actually, things won't change much at home this year. The Super Bowl pretty well defines the crudity that has bedeviled the nation for a number of years. An exercise in promotional garbage, with a little football thrown in, it will be exaggerated triviality, as well-padded millionaires strut and preen and knock the stuffing out of each other, while couch potatoes bedeviled by obesity and attendees bedeviled by high ticket prices and hot dogs dripping gold bask in the orgy. And so it goes with the nation. The rest of the world? Big changes!