Anchors Away

Did you watch the State of the Union?  I did.  I give Barack a B+ for being statesmanlike and leader-ly but not particularly warm.  I guess not everyone can be Bill Clinton, who always rocked the speech.   We can check all the boxes for Great Country, Work Together, Reduce the Debt, Better Education, Fix Infrastructure, Technology, Innovation, Be Green and Our Armed Services People Are Heroes.   There did appear to be some confusion about when to stand and clap or sit on hands especially with all the R+D bonding.  They probably won’t do that again. 

My network of choice was CNN.  I mean, they have “The Best Political Team on Television,” right?  I was amazed at the run-up to the speech.  For over two hours TBPTOT quacked away about what might be said, what should be said, who will react in what way, what folks were wearing and they spent a LOT of time talking about “Date Night,” the epic post-Tucson decision to have the parties mix and mingle rather than sit by party.  So it became a game to see who was sitting next to who. 

I was hoping for more of a Red Carpet treatment a la E! where reporters could breathlessly comment:  “Hillary, whose (designer) pantsuit are you wearing?”  “Mr. Boehner, I LOVE the Man Tan.  Does that come off?”  “Senator Levin, I adore your comb-over.  Does it take much work?”  “Congressman/Senator (put name here) where did you get that hot grey suit?”  I suspect it will get to that, now that the pre-speech aisle gathering is lasting so long.  In fact the pre-speech air time was an hour longer than Obama’s address.

By the time Obama began, ten different members of CNN’s “Best Political Team…” had speculated, commented and opined about what was to come.  Now that’s a team. And it was led by The Dude:  Wolf Blitzer — who still has the greatest name in news. 

The team was made up of  five or six people in-studio and another five or six “on location.”  One woman on location was somewhere out in the dark, leaning against a wall talking about when Barack would arrive from his one-minute drive over from the White House. 

Here’s the breakdown:

In Studio:

David Gergen:  Senior Political Analyst (Awesome comb-over.)

Candy Crowley:  Chief Political Correspondent (Is “Chief” higher than “Senior”?)

Erick Erickson:  Red State.com blogger (Where was the liberal?)

Roland Martin:  CNN Contributor, Senior Black Liberal Contributor

Eliot Spitzer:  Talk Show host, ex-governor and well, you know.

Piers Morgan:  Talk show host, talent show judge, Brit (WTF is he doing on there?)

On Location:

John King:  Chief National Correspondent, Anchor of his own show

Joe Johns:  Political Correspondent (Two first names!)

Gloria Borgen:  Senior Political Analyst (Never got inside.)

Dana Bash:  Senior Political Correspondent (“I’m right here at the back of the room, by the door… can you see me waving?”)

Two people could have handled this.  In fact, the pre-speech programming could have been 30 minutes long and covered the same territory.  It was a lot like those college and NFL pre-game shows in which five or six ex-jocks try to fill hours of time predicting outcomes, matchups, keys to the game and mostly trying to out-cliche each other. (“It’ll come down to breaks,” or “They have to stop the running game.”)  Although the jocks have WAY better clothes.

I really puzzled over the role of a Correspondent versus a Contributor.  Or Chief versus Senior or in some cases Analyst versus Strategist.  On other CNN news shows I’ve noticed that the same people have different titles.  They must be stealing from the Daily Show idea of where the same person has a different title depending on the subject. ( Senior National Disaster Correspondent is also the Senior Female Contributor and also fills in as Minority Reporter.)

Rarely have so many talked about so little.  By the way, how much did you like looking at The Killer Bs, Joe Biden and John Boehner,  during the entire speech?  Joe smiling and chuckling throughout.  John trying not to cry and trying really hard to understand why he was there.   Frankly, I think they should show music videos on a big screen in back or some sports highlights.

It’s time to do away with the groups of talking heads.  They add adjectives but not insight, wisdom or value.  But they do add to my headache.

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