mourning nightline

Isn’t it weird to advertise a show while the show is airing? The only time I see those ridiculous lightbulb ads for Nightline is during Nightline. I just assume that advertisers are just not paying for ad time on the broadcast any more, so they have to fill the time with something, no matter how inane.

I miss Ted Koppel. I miss being able to watch Nightline to get a deeper analysis of what’s going on in the world. I miss Dave Marash and Michel Martin.

The new format sucks. Many stories are several days old—I’ve already read about whatever the topic is in the New York Times or Salon, or even Newsweek. Martin Bashir cackling about the secret code in the judge’s ruling on the DaVinci Code lawsuit was already a couple of days old and solved by the time he got around to it. Jake Tapper’s lame interview with Markos Molitsas—hasn’t that story been done to death yet? Dogs eating at restaurants, men carrying purses, Cynthia McFadden’s ridiculous earrings taking center stage as she interviews ... who, I forget, was it Mel Brooks? All I remember are those big blue beachballs hanging from her ears as she stole center stage ... let’s see, celebrity baby names ... ooh such important topics to cover. Even Terry Moran has lost credibility—certainly pitched no hardballs during his Guantanamo “investigation.” And what’s with all the topics relating strictly to rich (or upper middle class) white folks with kids? Like the day care series, or single moms who can afford to be inseminated artificially and can afford to raise a kid on her own

The most retarded show yet was the show about khat, which was billed as the drug of terror—I guess because terrorists are allegedly making money “trafficking” in it. What was stupid about it was the lack balance. Is khat more dangerous than caffeine? What immigrant communities has it devastated? What drug lords in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia? Back when I was in graduate school at Columbia University, I went out with an Ethiopian grad student and hung out with him and his friends—all either students or immigrants and all khat chewers and all of them productive members of society. I tried it several times. Khat gave me less of a buzz than expresso. For people from the Horn of Africa and, I think, Yemen, chewing khat is like drinking coffee for us.

Anyway ... back to why I don’t care about Nightline anymore ...

The main reason is there isn’t enough depth. The anchor du jour makes a good start covering something important such as say, Iraq, or Israel/Lebanon, or North Korea, or whatever, then just as it’s starting to matter, it’s time to move on to the next story. The anchors, or whatever they’re supposed to be, look like morons when they smile brightly and say, after showing image after image of mayhem and destruction in Lebanon or Iraq or whatever the current horror of the week happens to be, “Now for a look at [insert some inane topic here]” Makes it really hard to take them seriously as journalists. Three stories in 20 minutes means none get covered well. It used to be that I could count on turning to Nightline for a closer look at whatever important news broke that day—a war, a Supreme Court decision, a law enacted, a disaster—and get some idea of what it might really mean. If not that very night, then the next night. And Ted & Co. seemed perfectly capable of running with breaking news. You know, like real journalists.

Not Nightline Lite.

When did McFadden turn into such a lightweight? She used to cover stories that mattered. Bashir has always been a celebrity hack (he did that show with Michael Jackson—which I didn’t bother watching because I don’t give a shiite about Jackson) so I don’t expect much from him. Moran—well, maybe he pissed somebody off—I always thought he was a decent reporter, especially since his CourtTV days, but being stuck at Nightline as his regular gig seems like a big step down. ABC will succeed in killing off the show once and for all.

I don’t care anymore.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/28/06 at 05:43 AM
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