As a former journalist, I am a bit of a news junkie, especially in trying times like these. I’ll watch BBC World News America, Deutsche Welle, France 24 News, and even the occasional gander at NHK World from the Japan Broadcasting Corp. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that I flip on NBC’s Today each morning as I’m getting ready for work.
I’ve had second thoughts about Today for the last few weeks as the jarring news of the world’s economic tailspin can be a bit much at 7 a.m., not to mention the near-shouting matches that Today likes to host between competing political candidates. But the lead story this morning — about how voters are tired of negative campaigning and instead want the candidates to talk about plans to deal with our failing economy — just about did me in.
It seems that voters — and especially undecided voters — are tired of the negative smears. The story highlighted the fact that John McCain has adopted a schizophrenic kitchen-sink policy: have your running mate slander the opponent by saying that he’s best buds with a terrorist, while sending your surrogates out to highlight Barack Obama’s middle name of Hussein (the whole concept is dissociative because McCain is quick to note that he condemns people linking Obama to Islam and/or Islamic extremists because of his racial heritage/middle name).
So what does NBC do to accompany this story about voters tiring of negative campaigning? They invite some of the most acerbic “senior advisers” from each side to shout at each other (and shout over the host, Meredith Viera, who has a really poor habit of interrupting her interview subjects) for four minutes. Can NBC and Today be so oblivious to the fact that their viewers are those same voters who are tired of this crap? True political junkies don’t watch Today, they’re watching FOX News Channel or MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
I turned the television off, and I’m not sure I’ll be watching Today again until I wake up on Nov. 5, ready to see one side or the other eat a HUGE helping of humble pie.