The Duke Lacrosse Scandal and More Thoughts About 24 Hour News Networks

I have previously resisted commenting on the Duke Lacrosse scandal because, in reality, what’s the point? It’s a pretty disgusting mess, all things considered. People are taking sides based on race, the media is salivating like a bunch of hungry jackals and everyone seems to be generally riled up over something that doesn’t really affect them in the slightest. I don’t know what happened (and neither do you) and I try to avoid coverage on stories like this as best I can- so I don’t really want to touch on the actual facts of the case (because I’d probably get them wrong and somebody would definitely point that out to me). I’d rather just use this article to rail against the 24 news media that is tearing this country apart.

So long as Fox News, MSNBC and CNN (Am I forgetting one?) have a nice juicy story where the public has to make a moral choice about what side their on, then we will never progress any further as a culture. In fact, one could make the point that we are going helplessly backwards. Which brings up something interesting; are 24 hour cable news networks necessary? The answer, of course, is no (and one could also make the case that television in general is not “necessary”, but that would bring up an entirely different debate over the semantics of the word necessary- and plus, I for one know I could not live without the Real World or the next Flavor Flav show).

News does not happen 24 hours a day, but cable channels have become increasingly clever at the art of making you think that it does. Everything newsworthy that happens in a day could be condensed into one half hour (25 minutes or so, if you count out the commercials). I’m talking about things (on a national level) like the daily activities of our political leaders, news about the war and general information about any catastrophic event that might have occurred (natural disasters, serial killers on the loose, major accidents, etc.). Things like the Duke Lacrosse scandal, Natalee Holloway and gay bishops in New Hampshire are not “national” news. They are filler (or perhaps the better word would be fodder) for the networks to do two things with. One, give on-the-scenes reports that never change from day to day (and sometimes week to week) every fifteen from some good-looking young reporter; and two, bring up the story on any number of “debate” shows that they run endlessly back to back. On these shows (popularized and perfected by the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on Fox News), the producers get people to take sides on a particular issue and then yell at each other. This is not news. If you think this is news, you are probably retarded.

At best, something like the Duke Lacrosse scandal could be considered regional news because, in a way, the outcome does affect the community of Durham, North Carolina. The prosecutor is up for re-election soon, and the results of that vote could be decided by what happens in this case.

I guess people just want their lives to feel more interesting. I’m not exactly sure how enamoring yourself with details about a rape case 100’s (or 1000’s) of miles away is supposed to do this, but what do I know. The one and only thing that I have taken away from this whole ordeal is a strange, and probably inappropriate, fascination with the names of the two students that have been charged. I don’t think that anyone could have come up with two better names if this was fiction. If someone had asked me to guess what Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty did for a living, I would no doubt have said, “play lacrosse for Duke University?”

Of course, I’d be right. But thinking about shit like that now just makes me seem like an insensitive asshole which, unfortunately, I just might be.

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