I really am apolitical, and I didn't watch last night's democratic debate. I did look at the overnight ratings data, and that I am sort of interested in mostly as a result of this web site.
But via Twitter I saw a comment from @Lons this morning trashing Charlie Gibson in a post titled, You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know How Much Charlie Gibson Blows (I'm a sucker for a Bob Dylan lyric refernce, I suppose) and then I saw this column from Washington Post television critic Tom Shales titled, In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC.
For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.
I don't know that Charlie Gibson didn't blow, and I can't say that specious gossip should be the stuff of news, but I can say this: from ABC's own press release:
For the Wednesday 8-10 p.m. time period, this marks ABC's best Total Viewing audience since 11/28/07, its largest Adult 18-49 rating since 2/27/08, and its best Adult 25-54 rating since 1/9/08.
Taking it all in, I was reminded of this column recently from Broadcasting and Cable's Paige Albiniak titled Tim Robbins' Beautiful, Impossible Media Dream.
It may be a gosh darn shame that specious gossip gets better ratings than hard news reporting, but that doesn't change the fact that specious gossip gets better ratings than hard news reporting.
People sometimes just want to assume that human nature works the way they wish it did, rather than the way that it actually does. This creates frustration that many people, myself included, struggle with. But sometimes the struggle too, is just part of human nature...