If NFL stood for "not for long" instead of "National Football League," the debate would center on how much more time it would take for its reputation to recover from a perceived cover-up of a crime—Ray Rice punching and knocking out his then-fiancé, now wife, Janay Palmer, in February in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Or "NFL" could continue to stand for what comes up in Twitter searches on Wednesday for the trending topic of #RayRice: "Related Searches: #nfl, #domesticviolence"
My wife, Peggy, and I overdosed on the 2008 election.
Eighteen months ago—with 10 Republicans and eight Democrats vying for their respective nominations—we started slowly. By August of this year, we were hooked. We'd start the day at 6 a.m. watching MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and his happy crew—Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, Pat Buchanan, et al. At 1 p.m., over a sandwich in the kitchen, I'd look in on Andrea Mitchell. After work we'd surf the dials, hitting Chris Matthews, David Gregory and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC; Brit Hume and his wonderful roundtable on Fox News; as well as checking in on Wolf Blitzer and Lou Dobbs at CNN. Compared to the energy and excitement of the cable shows, network evening news was a cure for insomnia.
The cable folks parsed every speech, analyzed every gesture, trumpeted every miscue, interviewed everybody and anybody who might shed some light on the outcome, and involved viewers in the minutiae of political campaigning. It was a giggle while it lasted.
Now Obama is in while McCain and Bush are out.
The suspense is gone. Life is normal once again.
So whither cable? Will it wither and die?
Welcome to the new shadow government.
My wife, Peggy, and I are cable news junkies. We watch network evening news because we've always watched network evening news and it's on when we're making dinner. But it's a dumb habit.
I go back to John Cameron Swayze and the Camel News Caravan-15 minutes of black-and-white news with primitive graphics on NBC at 6 p.m. On Swayze's desk was a Camel cigarette ashtray, so nobody missed who the sponsor was. This was followed by a 15-minute show starring Perry Como and/or Jonathan Winters.
Since then, network news has attained what TV critics call "gravitas," and what I call pomposity.
Fox News with Brit Hume and Shep Smith is a lot faster, a lot more fun and covers many more stories.
But for us, the real action is on cable-a screaming bunch of what Vice President Spiro Agnew called the "nattering nabobs of negativity" endlessly analyzing flyspecks.
The cable news crowd is fun. But in terms of influence on the national scene, cable isn't worth a bucket of warm spit.—