FLOTSAM & JETSAM: The noise channels at play

Friday, February 17, 2012

The noise channels at play

Sam Smith - One thing that Fox News and MSNBC have in common is that their hosts like to shout. Where the idea developed that viewers wanted the tranquility of their living rooms rent asunder by the screams of Bill O'Reilly or Rachel Maddow  has never been revealed. Certainly the limited viewership of these channels suggest a different approach might be more helpful.

In any case, contrary to the common assumption, neither are news channels. They're noise channels, a sort of political version of Pandora, where you can get your favorite cliches pouring into your ears hour after hour.

Thus it didn't really surprise me that each channel fired someone who - while often miles from my political views - at least presented an alternative in a sincere and reasoned manner, unlike, say, the current crop of GOP presidential candidates who often  mean the same thing but hide it through verbal machination.

Where else would you find the core of  some of the GOP philosophy better expressed than in this excerpt from Buchanan's news book?
 For what is a nation?
Is it not a people of a common ancestry, culture, and language who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays, share the same music, poetry, art, literature, held together, in Lincoln’s words, by “bonds of affection ... mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone”?
If that is what a nation is, can we truly say America is still a nation? The European and Christian core of our country is shrinking. The birth rate of our native born has been below replacement level for decades. By 2020, deaths among white Americans will exceed births, while mass immigration is altering forever the face of America.
I would, of course, much prefer that Buchanan didn't think that way, but it is far better that it be laid on the table clearly than deceitfully manipulated by the likes of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney.

Further, I think of listening to Buchanan  as a form of batting practice. How would you knock his argument out of the park? You can't even hit one of Romney's balls because they don't really exist.

Besides, more than a little of Buchanan's anti-imperialism and Andrew Napolitano's civil liberties views make sense.

That isn't the way they think at MSNBC, however. As one press account put it,
"MSNBC President Phil Griffin said last month that he didn't think Buchanan's book 'should be part of the national dialogue, much less part of the dialogue on MSNBC.'"

In getting rid of these two clear - albeit frequently wrong - voices, we not improving the dialogue at all. We're simply making it easier to keep the true debate hidden in verbal code and, once again, using noise as a substitute for argument.