Thursday, April 26, 2007

Life after Imus

Guest post by Edward Copeland

As I feared with the departure of Don Imus from my morning wakeup routine, there is even less worth watching than there was before. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't in it for the nonsense, I was in it for the interviews. There are few places, if any, that offer 15 or 20 minute interviews with a single person anymore that actually allow for more than superficial discussions. The exit of Imus happened to coincide with CNN's new team for American Morning. Not that Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien were anything to write home about, but the new pairing of the once-respectable John Roberts and Fox exile Kiran Chetry seems to have slipped even further down the notch toward the nonsensical blather that makes me unable to turn on the network morning shows.

MSNBC seems to be searching for some way to preserve the Imus format, which would be welcome if they found someone who could pull it off. The first week, they had David Gregory pinch-hit, and while the interviews were fine, they also saddled him and anchor Amy Robach with painful would-be comic banter. Not only did it fall flat, but it really did a bit of a disservice for Gregory. It was fine if he was being silly with Imus on a comedy program, but now he's back to being a "respectable journalist" as White House correspondent and it seemed really forced. This week, for the first three days, they moved in Philadelphia talk radio host Michael Smerconish to fill the seat, but his interviews are all really short and don't seem to get very deep.

Meanwhile, CNN has apparently decided to abandon thorough news coverage in exchange for becoming a YouTube shill. For two days in a row (and this was only by random flipping, not leaving the network on), it featured stories and interviews with some guy who posted his cell phone number on YouTube and was getting a lot of phone calls (Again, purely by accident, I caught that CNN was talking to this guy again, this time on Paula Zahn in prime time). How did The New York Times miss the story?! Of course, that was thoughtful and provocative compared to what they did Wednesday morning, endlessly hyping that they had new, exclusive footage of a piano-playing cat. (I shit you not.)

Granted, maybe some folks prefer it light in the morning, but not everyone does. Many of us would like to know what's going on in the news. It seems that someone should try to grab that niche instead of trying to imitate what everyone else does. It's depressing. Of course, it's not just television that's abandoning principles (if it ever had any). Some newspapers are fast becoming just as bad, as the death of Boris Yeltsin got less play than Anna Nicole Smith's death did. Who knew that Anna Nicole had a bigger impact on world history than Yeltsin? Have they added her to high school history textbooks yet?

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  • I've decided to forego any American tv post-Imus. It's my own personal little boycott. In the mornings now I watch on cable tv5 a French show called Telematin and though my French is not at the level where I understand everything presented I can appreciate the sophisticated delivery of topics ranging from gardening, health, history, art, today's news and something called 4 verities, which is an in-depth interview with a political or intellectual figure, conducted by a serious journalist who is not the host. I would recommend that American tv morning show producers take a look at that show, if for nothing else the coloration, musical segues, and camerawork.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:52 PM  

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