For all the abuse I've handed David Gregory, whose "MTP" questions are often tonally aggressive but substantively weak, no one is quite degrading the civic concept of Sunday Talk & Public Affairs Programming (I don't count Fox) like "This Week"'s George Stephanopoulos. An erstwhile sorcerer of mass politics, he now zaps the screen into a selfsame phantasma of mass entertainment--a veritable cartoon of vulgar journalism mixed with, but certainly not diluted by, irreality TV's most pornographic harpy.
Ann Coulter. Again.
Yesterday morning I sat and half-watched, mostly because whenever Ms. Coulter wasn't delivering one of her diseased rants she was busy interrupting someone so that she could either get on with a variegated rant or pick up from wherever she left the last one. For about 30 minutes, "This Week" was more psych ward then news studio. And George Stephanopoulos must have been loving it--he must have been hearing the ratings tick up, up, up in his head--because on and on the madness went.
"[C]ivil rights are for blacks!" spat Coulter at one point--as in, for blacks only--as she was making the curiously schizophrenic case, as only a paranoid schizophrenic can do, that Democrats are now betraying blacks by also allying with Hispanics, as well as women and "gays who want to get married to one another." Now it's true that at this juncture some public affairs programs might enter a profitable discussion of the term "civil rights"--is it so historically linked to the African-American community that it should remain so invariably linked?; or are "civil rights," "human rights" and "constitutional rights" interchangeable?--but Coulter, and, by his silence, Stephanopoulos, were having nothing of it. There were rants and consequent ratings yet to be fully developed.
I don't know. I guess I'm in a chronic state of denial. I guess I cling to the pious belief that if enough of us rail against network and cable news' rants, some semblance of Cronkite journalism might someday return. Which, I suppose, makes me about as batty as Ann Coulter.