Switch to Decaf. Switch Now.

I am going to sound like a broken record soon, but there are sometimes when I simply can’t stop myself .

I thought my  Chicago Tribune piece about maniacal cable news would make me feel better, calm me down a little, but it didn’t work.

Now it’s  the shouters who often speak for me  — my  “loudmouths,” if you will  — who are about to push me off the deep end.

Is there any chance,   any chance at all,  that hot air machines like Ed Schultz, Chrtis Matthews or Keith Olberman have any idea how deranged even their  most persusave and courageous views can sound when they are shouted in a hyperventilating, salivating frenzy. 

I wish I could think of a more nuanced way to put it,  guys, but you have to switch  to decaf.  Your  indignation, however justified, will emerge in the clarity and elegance of your argument  and not with the accelerartion of your heart rate. 

You look ridiculous. Bulging neck veins don’t make you more authoritative, they bring on heart attacks.

Here’s how sick of the nuttiness I am, how much I want the “debate by dynamite” to stop. I am going to quote from Richard Nixon’s first innaugural address.  That’s right. Richard Nixon. Paragon of quiet, honest, reasoned argument.

I won’t suggest that Nixon followed his own advice,  nor that he even wrote the following passage. But he did say it,  and it keeps coming to mind as I watch the shoutocracy of cable  news act as if they are mainlining Red Bull.

“To lower our voices would be a simple thing …..  We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another–until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.”

Richard Nixon,  January 20, 1969 

Why Not Feed the 24 Hour News Beast Something Truly Repulsive? The Case of Liz Trotta


With all the disgust I feel for much of the detritus that the 24 hour cable news channels use to fill their bottomless news hole, I won’t deny that I am simultaneously a fan. 


Hypocrisy? Maybe.  


CNN and MSNBC are simply indispensable for live coverage of breaking news. Further, they each are staffed with journalists capable of on the spot analysis and perceptive commentary that can be superb. I think of CNN’s William Schneider, former CNN Baghdad correspondent and bureau chief Jane Arraf and medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.  And what about people at MSNBC like Robert Bazell, perhaps the best science and medical reporter of the last several decades, Keith Olbermann, political director Chuck Todd, and Tim Russert?


I should say that I don’t omit Fox News out of any knee-jerk revulsion.  I am glad the audience who feels their views represented by Fox has that highly partisan option. I only wish that they would at least be honest about their ideological slant, rather than continuing to make the embarrassing (and amusing) claim of fairness and balance.


Fox simply has very little, if anything,  to say to me.


But all three of the cable news networks are faced with an insatiable news beast demanding to be fed.  And it seems that, in the age of screaming and incivility, nothing fills a slow news day better than two or three minimally informed pseudo-experts trying ever-so-hard to out-shout each other. 


No surprise there.


There is an unintended, entertaining  benefit to all this: When your definition of news makes room for yelling by provocateurs rather than reporting by reporters, you occasionally are treated to an idiocy that transcends any definition of idiocy you ever imagined.


So here we go. Check out these comments on Fox News by Liz Trotta, her attempt to bring some “analysis” to the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s remarks about the RFK assassination.


And ask yourself: How does any news organization keep someone like Liz Trotta on the air? Where is her apology? Who will take the responsibility for deciding that suggesting the assassination of a presidential candidate should be a career-ender, something that should preclude her from ever doing news or commentary again?


This isn’t about her right to express herself.  She can be as astoundingly stupid as she wants. And she can do it on the air. The question is whether Fox will decide that the “decency-line” has been crossed.


Watch closely. Her comments come quickly at the end of this short excerpt. And they are repulsive.