The Ostroy Report

The Ostroy Report is a fresh, aggressive voice for Democrats and a watchdog of the Republican Party and its President-elect Donald Trump.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Putting Cable News Under a Microscope

What's an avowed political junkie to do when he's knocked on his ass for almost two weeks with a debilitating ear infection and flu before a major election? While the doc had me on more dope than Keith Richards at Altamont, my drug of choice quickly became 24/7 cable news.

As I lay I bed this past week with more fluid oozing out of my head than a sump-pumped Wayne, NJ basement after a rainstorm, I realized that my life would never be the same. I had officially hit bottom. Ive watched enough "Interventions" on TV to know that when the addict throws down the needle in disgust--as I have now done with the TV remote--that he's had enough and is ready to quit. It took one straight week of non-stop political commentary for me to finally realize how cable news had not only driven me crazy, but just how much it was negatively impacting politics as well.

When you watch MSNBC or CNN in very small doses, like anything, it's a healthy diversion and you may actually learn something. But watching as much as I just have, you realize what an endless, vicious cycle it is, regurgitating the same drivel to the point where the pundits' "analysis" becomes as recognizable as a midnight Rocky Horror screening. You begin to realize just how much time these people have on their hands to fill, because you're right along with them in real time. Do you have any idea what it takes to fill an entire day and night with inane chatter about two primaries? They give you the news once, and then discuss, analyze and regurgitate it ad nauseum. I don't know what hurt more: the ice pick-like stabbing pain in my ear or the sound of Joe Scarborough blathering on incessently about how Clinton's "gonna make history" Tuesday with two big wins.

Its no wonder how "scandals" like the Rev Wright controversy become the elephant in the room. It's because the "room" is a circus, and it's ringleaders are people like Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, Keith Olbermann, Wolf Blitzer and George Stephanopoulos. They sanctimoniously decry the insignificance of these stories as they shamelessly ram them down our collective throats 24/7 to fill that gargantuan air time. The cable news media feeds on this crap like a hungry shark. Even those smallest of stories now becomes a "SomethingGate" that gets over-analyzed and beaten to death round-the-clock. And the networks have a never-ending supply of "experts" at the ready to dissect these stories to the point of exhaustion.

And the net effect of all this is that politicians get trapped in this bubble of sensationalism, as evidenced by the recent Pennsylvania debate where the first 50 minutes were spent on BitterGate, BosniaGate and Rev Wright. Or on last week's Meet the Press interview of Sen. Barack Obama where host Tim Russert dedicated a similar percentage of his show's opening to these same hot-button issues. Is it any wonder then why only about 16% of voters rank the Irag war as their #1 priority? Were it not for these 24 hour cable news networks bottom-feeding in an effort to fill time we might just have an electorate that could be focused on the issues that really matter, such as the war, national security, the economy, gas prices, anemic employment and health care. Instead, the networks parade in front of the camera every Tom, Dick and Harry who's ever worked in politics to micro-chatter about the most meaningless, National Enquirer-like drivel which in turn prevents these stories from ever dying. And it's a colossal distraction from what truly matters. But sadly, what truly matters is, well, dull. Not as exciting as Rev Wright and a lying Hillary on a Bosnian tarmac.

There came a point where I literally felt dirty watching so much of this garbage. I felt like an addict, knowing I was doing something bad, wrong, destructive...yet unable for a time to stop. And then the moment of truth came. Following Tuesday's Indiana and North Carolina primaries, I listened as analyst after analyst, pundit after pundit, blathered on about the results as if they actually knew something. As if anything they had said or predicted the previous day had any credibility or accuracy one day later. They were all wrong, yet no one owned up. They just kept spinning. The bottom line is, nobody knows anything. It's just opinion. And the polls clearly prove little either. They're all over the place. You can find a poll to substantiate any position. To support any claim. And that's precisely what takes place all day on MSNBC and CNN. Obama and Clinton surrogates making their biased cases why their candidate is the rightful nominee. The cliquishness of it all is sooooooo high school. This is the point where I decided I could no longer participate. News flash: this junkie's in rehab. From this point on, it's the NY Times and my nightly hour of Hardball and I'm done. Anything beyond that and I just might put a bullet in my head.

The one thing to come out of this past week that amazed me though is that Pat Buchanan never sleeps. Here's a guy who I swear was writing speeches for Woodrow Wilson, and he's on the tube at 1am and right back on "Morning Joe" at 7am. Maybe Buchanan's the only one with enough stamina to take that 3am White House call??

On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. We're very pleased to announce that one of last year's grant recipients, Cynthia Wade, just won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for "Freeheld." We are proud of Cynthia and to have supported this film. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us continue to achieve our very important mission.
Thank you.


  • At 6:04 PM, Blogger Steve Bremner said…

    Sign the petition to tell the Senate to stop Big Media:

  • At 6:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're right Ostroy, but the problem is, despite the truth of what you say, the big three CNN, MSNBC and FOX are running the show and affecting the election. Hillary was ahead until MSNBC endlessly and sytematically bashed her. I think they made Scarborough give her a few crumbs to hide their agenda.\: Get Hillary. And, I'm sorry you've chosen Hardball with the worse of all mysogynists, Matthews, and the NY Times which has gone berserk lately with their horrible editorals and op eds. (Did you read Herbert today?)

    There is no "honest" news anywhere. It's all hype and opinion and devious to succeed in a purpose.

    All we have to do is remember what the media did to Gore with his "earth suits", and Kerry with his remarks and choices of activities. The powers behind the media do what they will to get what they want. Soros wants Obama. Fox wants McCain. Nobody wants Hillary except us, the majority - the "little people."

  • At 11:08 PM, Blogger Sidney Condorcet said…


    Hope your feeling better buddy. Great post. Have you read Halperin's How to Win? Great exegesis on the media "Freak Show"...

  • At 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Andy -- Glad you're well and back. I love this blog.

    Dem that am I'm surprised that I am now watching FOX NEWS more often than not. So tired of CNN and MSNBC. Anyway, Hannity is not giving up. Last night was a long segment about the new preacher at Wright's church who is almost a clone of Wright. Same movements, and same message. Then he switched to Michelle. FOX has started on the campaign to defeat the Dems. The media are powerful.

  • At 10:16 AM, Blogger VennData said…

    ...and they're wrong!

    Example: Some radio pundits on CBS we're discussing rising gas prices and how it's on the minds of voters. They claimed we couldn't help the demand from China and India.

    Oh, OK... but they didn't even mention the dollar. We may not help demand from other nations, but we can help the fact that the fiscal position of the the Bush administration from day one, and the monetary policy of the guys Bush appointed has halved the dollar against the Euro.

    The only way "destroying the dollar" is equivalent to "Rev. Wright" is the in the political gab shows.

    The only way botching an occupation of a nation is equivalent to Lewinksygate is on the political gab shows.

    If Bush et al is destroying the dollar to save it, cue McCain.

  • At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    They ARE wrong. But they shape the outcome of events and the thinking of Americans. How can we fight that They have the power.

  • At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The media made Obama the democratic massiah,by bashing the clintons from dust to dawn and back again and alot of people bought it.LOOK AT SIDNEY,he never miss'es a chance to bash BILL or HILLARY.Once hillary drops out in a few weeks after getting the most popular vote,the media will turn the big guns on Obama,At that time sidney and all the Ilite will be hollering faul,they'll just be bringing out what should of been brought out earlier.When you(sidney and friends) were being played.In the fall your looking at a stronger democratic controlled congress and senate,but a Mccain white house.MICHEAL MOORE said watch the dems miss it up,they have with the help of the right-winged media

  • At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Everything 12: 28 says is TRUE. That's exactly what happened and what is going to happen. The only thing I would add is that Michael Moore, and the stupid Democrats including Kennedy, Richardson, Pelosi, Dowd and the long list of fools contributed to the mess we are going to be by them endorsing Obama. Especially Kennedy, early on. That with the aggressive Media was the turning point.

  • At 5:14 PM, Anonymous bkln said…

    You made a valiant attempt at getting people off petty crap Ostroy, but obviously your anonymous fans here just aren't going to let you off the hook that easy.

    It's always treacherous to step into the middle of a circle jerk like the one currently on between anon12:28 and anon4:19 (if they're even different people), but you two should just calm down. Everything is going to be fine. Buck up. Stiff upper lip. McCain is a weak candidate and Obama has proven that he can handle things quite well in the face of severe fire. He's built an impressive network that will only continue to improve and soon all cylinders will be firing together with the DNC and DSCC and the juggernaut of progressives that are finally ready to make it happen.

    It'll be a fight, but we can do this.

  • At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    thats the problem bkln it's people like you,that distroyed the sure shot and with your racist remarks that you were good at throwing that that made half the democrates that voted for hillary so mad their going to vote Mccain,got anymore of your whitie comments left,that you liked to throw around.Now that your massiah has been crowned king,now it's a rodney king moment for you ain't it,can't we all get along,to late you burnt those bridges,LOOK at this way,your mans the dems pick,just don't come back blaming the clinton's when OBAMA lose's in the fall

  • At 6:49 PM, Anonymous bkln said…

    thats the problem bkln it's people like you with your racist remarks ~anon67:17pm

    If you find a racist remark I've made, you need to provide it - direct quote, date and time. I challenge you to find one and present it here.

  • At 6:58 PM, Anonymous bkln said…

    Unlike you anonymous, who has filled this blog to the brim with bitter hateful racism. Why even mention Rodney King otherwise.

    And learn to spell fer crissakes. You embarrass yourself.

  • At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    BKLN: "to let you off the hook that EASILY." And, there have been other mistakes in recent comments by you. You must have heard about "living in glass houses and throwing stones." You're just another Obama-supporting snob because the press has said the higher class (better educated and richer) support him.

  • At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yeah, fuck the "better educated and richer"!! God knows, there are no rich people supporting McCain and his tax cuts...What do the "better educated" people know? They probably voted for Gore and Kerry, anyway. Thank the good Lord for the "less educated" who had the good sense to vote for Bush twice...America is a much better place because of it, ehh 9:13?

  • At 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Let's all rally around anon9:13's disgust with the "better educated" and just end education totally. Everyone knows that advanced education just leads people to become snobbish, latte-sipping liberals who prefer diplomacy to war and health care for all. So let's just declare war on all forms of organized education.

    School's out forever!! We can finally embrace our destiny of being a land of American Idol-watching, vacuous simpletons.

  • At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    9:13 9:30 9:33 if you're three or one, and if you consider yourself better educated, you have proven the point that "better educated" does not mean " more intelligent." The point of the correction of Bklyn's mistake was to point out he, too, makes errors and should not "throw the first stone" at someone else's spelling. It was not a condemnation of education, but a plea for tolerance, better understanding and yes, education.

    Obama continaully makes a ghastly grammatical error despite his "elite education." None of is is perfect or, for that matter, superior.

    9:30 Perhaps you could increase your vocabulary so vulgar words would not be needed by you to express - I guess -- anger. You and 9:33 might want to refine you sarcasm, too. It's so gross.

  • At 7:26 PM, Anonymous bkln said…

    Anonymous said...BKLN: "to let you off the hook that EASILY." And, there have been other mistakes in recent comments by you. You must have heard about "living in glass houses and throwing stones." You're just another Obama-supporting snob because the press has said the higher class (better educated and richer) support him.9:13 AM

    This is supposed to be a response to my 6:58pm post or my 6:49pm post challenging ANY of the millions of antagonistic anonymouses to provide a direct racist quote of mine?

    "Easily" versus "easy"? That's all you're bringing to the table? And I'm just another Obama-supporting snob BECAUSE of something the press has said? Say what? That makes no sense at all.

    No doubt if you scrub and scrub you will find even more spelling and grammar errors on my part, but you're missing the forest for the trees if you check the anon6:17pm post and my 6:58pm "call-out" of spelling. It's ultimately not the spelling but the charge of racism I was mostly interested in calling out. And I love a good run-on sentence and steam-of-consciousness writing, but let's be honest here: anon6:17 was having a bout of vicious mental diarrhea all over the place. But if it makes everyone feel better, I promise never ever to call out anyone's spelling or grammar ever again. Sheesh.

    In other news, I'm still waiting for those alleged racist quotes of mine to show up.....

  • At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Cable news has basically destroyed journalism, which was supposed to be a thoughtful pursuit of objective and verifiable information. As the so-called "Fourth Estate", journalism is an important part of a functioning democracy. But face it, if you have 24 hours of TV content to fill, and you're competing for ad dollars, the rules of journalism go out the window and the emphasis is on attracting viewers by whatever means necessary. That anyone involved with TV news, be it network or cable, considers themselves a journalist is a joke.

  • At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I couldn't agree with you more and have sworn off more than a few minutes here and there--I'm reduced to watching Seinfeld and Friends' reruns!! I would suggest, however, you try to catch BBCWorld News, here at 6:30 evenings on one of our PBS stations. I learn more in their thirty minute segments about what's actually happening in the world, including US, than from any newscast both network and cable. Without it there could be a nuclear explosion somewhere in the world and I wouldn't hear anything about it until getting on computer the next morning.

  • At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The press and TV accounts of Hillary's victory in WV and the predictions that she still can't win do not point out the fact that Obama got his "victorious" lead before Rev. Wright and his "bitter" speech. That's when he became the prospective winner. Now the exit polls in WV, which I think reflect the country, indicate that Wright is a problem for 51 percent of the voters and 38 percent of the Democratic party won't vote for him in the general.

  • At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Michael said…


    Please then explain his overwhelming victory in North Carolina.


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