In this series on HeadCount’s blog, Jeff Simonds — a professor, writer, and HeadCount Team Leader — tries to understand the world of politics, music, and pop culture. The opinions expressed are his own.
JS: Okay, media– I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, and I didn’t get to read any of the news stories about that Nevada rancher guy. Now I’m ready. Hit me with the story. What’s this Cliven Bundy guy all about? Something to do with cattle and government overreach and militias, right? Let’s talk about the issues.
Media: Nah… we’re way done with him.
Media: Yeah. We’re done talking about him.
JS: Well, come on!
Media: His story’s kind of boring to us now. Plus, he’s apparently a huge racist. Since him, we’ve moved on. Did you know that some guy who owns a basketball team is a huge racist? It was kind of a nice segue, actually. Did you hear about him?
JS: …I might have. We can talk about racism and the issues of latent bigotry in society. Let’s do it.
JS: Wait… that’s not talking about the issue. That’s gossiping about the — Media, why do you always do that!
JS: Some person brings up an important issue in the world, and you start talking about the person instead of the issue!
Media: We don’t do that. Name one time.
JS: “Joe The Plumber” had an issue with small business taxation in 2008 and, instead of talking about taxes, you talked about how he wasn’t really a licensed plumber.
Media: Big deal. Name one other time we did —
JS: Sandra Fluke had an issue with the nation’s attitude towards women’s reproductive healthcare in 2010 and, instead of talking about women’s healthcare, you talked about how Rush Limbaugh said she was a slut.
Media: I don’t see the pattern in —
JS: After Columbine, you talked about heavy metal music instead of gun laws; after Trayvon Martin’s murder, you talked about George Zimmerman’s trial instead of the dangers of “Stand Your Ground” laws; you just did it with the rancher by talking about his racism instead of talking about the scope of government; then, you did it with Donald Sterling by talking about the players’ outrage instead of talking about the issue of racism in America. Why don’t you talk about real issues!
Media: OKAY! Do you really want to know why we don’t talk about the issues?!
Media: It’s because news is hard. News is, like, super hard! You gotta get all of your facts right, otherwise people yell at you. If you screw up one graph or mess up one story, people make fun of you. And, it’s 24 hours now! Whose bright idea was that to do news every minute of every day? That’s ridiculous! We’d all really rather write for daytime soap operas.
JS: Soap operas?
Media: Yeah. That’s the dream job. One hour a day and you get to be as crazy as you want. No one yells at soap opera writers for distracting the American public. The news is sort of like my audition tape for soap operas. That’s why we hire pretty people to read the news… ’cause that’s what “Days Of Our Lives” does. Incidentally, Brian Williams and Megyn Kelly would make a great cast member, don’t you think?