Monday, October 31, 2016

TV: Real estate

FOR LEASE: Faltering property in need of major renovations adjacent to vast wilderness at the far end of the broadcast spectrum?

Is that what attracted Dan Rather to his current post on AXS TV?


That's where the disgraced Dan has finally landed.

He does a faux newscast -- 10% Alaska Pollock, 90% b.s. -- for the channel and also does a weekly program entitled THE BIG INTERVIEW.

Is there anyone less qualified to conduct interviews than it's-all-about-me Dan Rather?

Watching him with Olivia Newton-John, this point was driven home.

The singer and actress has a well deserved reputation for being one of the kindest people around.

So it wasn't surprising that she repeatedly picked up the conversation line and also remembered the basic niceties such as telling Dan it was a pleasure to speak with him -- after Dan just sort of sat there unsure of how to end an interview.

Whether it's with the Wilson sisters of Heart, Sammy Hagar, Meat Loaf or assorted other guests, viewers are left to wonder not only what Dan's supposed to know about his subjects but also when Mark Cuban plans on hiring an interview coach to teach Dan Rather the basics.

We understand Barbara Walters has more time on her hands these days, perhaps she could help?

No one but Mark Cuban would hire Dan today.

If you're confused by that, you've clearly never seen Cuban's hair which is also an embarrassment.

Dan began his national career in embarrassment so it's no surprise that he'd end it that way as well.

When President John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, Dan rode the tragedy to national well-known-dom.  He did that by using a period of mourning to demonize other.

Dan, the alleged grown up, reported on national television that school children had cheered the news of JFK's assassination.

Reality, they didn't know anything about that, they had cheered the news that they were being sent home from school early.

But if Dan couldn't distort, what would he have left?

(Another day of tragedy and mourning, 9-11, found Dan again serving up tales that didn't actually happen -- not limited to but including a car bomb outside the State Department.)

He doesn't have much left today.

Which is no real surprise.

When he took part in a now infamous 60 MINUTES II segment on Bully Boy Bush's days not with the National Guard, the story got clobbered by some.

Dan could have spoken out but chose not to.

As a long time suck up, he knew he would be protected.

And let's be clear, Dan is a suck up.

He's not a liberal.

He's a suck up.

He may (or may not) vote Democratic.

But he's a suck up and that's what he spent the bulk of his time on air.

You could argue he was sucking up to John Kerry in 2004 when he narrated the 60 MINUTES II report.

When that became a controversy, he stayed silent.

In 2006, we noted:

Mary Mapes, a former producer who worked with Rather, is a name that's popped up as well this week. Some have taken to recommending her book. It's a really bad book. We feel for Mapes but her ignorance shines through in the book. Why did Mapes feel the need to write a personality book (as opposed to leaving out the bits on grandma and making a case as a reporter)? Because she's a product of broadcast journalism and has internalized all the principles at play.

She seems to think she's the first victim of a cowardly corporation. With no historical evidence at her finger tips, she writes a really bad book that tells you she's a nice person (we're told she is) and that she got screwed over (we'd agree with that). She offers nothing on what was done to April Oliver -- either because Oliver is "too hot" to mention or because she's unaware of what happened less than a decade before CBS fired Mapes. Too bad, because what was done to Oliver was done to Mapes and until Mapes can discuss the issues from that perspective, she's wasting everyone's time except for a few partisans.

We support Mapes reporting on the National Guard. The corporation stabbed her in the back. The "investigation" wasn't a journalistic inquiry. Take out "National Guard" and you've got the April Oliver story all over again. When Mapes is ready to connect the dots, she may have something to say. Until then, she's just twisting in the wind.

He knew Mary Mapes, the producer, might get suspended or even fired but with his big contract and being a news anchor, he just knew they wouldn't touch him.

They let Mapes go.

And, surprise, they let him go as well.

He was forever a distant third in a three way race on the evening news.

Yes, he sucked up, but he also couldn't find an audience.

That should have been the end of it for Rather.

But here he is, back on TV (a channel no one watches, but still . . .).

And we're left scratching our heads as to how this deeply unqualified, 84-year-old is still on TV?

During the fracas at the 1976 BATTLE OF THE NETWORK STARS, when CBS captain Telly Savalas savaged NBC's Ben Murphy for violating the rules of the relay race, did ABC's Farrah Fawcett and Gabe Kaplan broker a peace accord which stipulated that, in exchange for NBC team captain Robert Conrad not pulling the entire NBC team from the competition, Dan Rather would not only replace Walter Cronkite as CBS news anchor but, from that day and forever more, Rather would be guaranteed a spot on television?

At the other end of the broadcast spectrum is Steve Goldbloom.

Pretty to look at, solid structure, he's everything that Dan Rather isn't in terms of curb appeal.

But what they have in common is a lack of interest in actual news.

Steve can argue that he anchors spots entitled EVERYTHING BUT THE NEWS but we would argue that they shouldn't be broadcast on THE NEWSHOUR.

These segments reveal PBS' deep desire to be COMEDY CENTRAL as they send Steve to frou-frou places -- like an adult sleep away camp -- where he makes funny.

We're confused as to why PBS bills Steve Goldbloom as a "cub reporter" when he's so clearly a bear but we're sure that there are better uses for the news budget that these segments or Steve's equally asinine BRIEF BUT SPECTACULAR.

If you disagree, ask yourself when was the last time PBS broke a news story?

As the entertainment sprawl continues, what's passed off as news has even less to do with the public good.  We'd argue it's time for the people to exercise their own version of eminent domain and reclaim these airwaves.

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