Thursday, December 6, 2012

After 20 years of reality--time for a change...

Alternate Real World:

Since Real World on MTV has been around for two decades, maybe it's time for new ideas for the show.  I thought I would suggest a few:

1.  Instead of the cast consisting of some white people and a token black, a token Hispanic and token gay, do one season of Real World with  2 gay housemates,  2 black housemates, 2 Hispanic housemates  and include a token white heterosexual.  
2.  Put the whole bunch of them in Keokuk, Iowa and watch the hilarity ensue.
3.  Make all the housemates Harvard and Yale graduates.  Give them the same unlimited alcohol they give all Real World casts.  We will learn that smart people can be as dumb as the dopey people that  make up the usual cast.
4.  Have the whole cast  be average looking.  
5.  Make the housemates consist of 4 Republican and 4 Democratic U.S. House Representatives and watch them try to come to bipartisan agreement on where to go for lunch.  The cameras then follow them as they go to the local "Hooters" restaurant.
6.  MTV gives a dollar to charity each time a housemate says "like" or has to be bleeped.
7.  Put the housemates in a dry county.  Then force the cast to have a discussion about a topic.  Any topic.
8.  Think three words:  "Real World, Somalia"

Friday, November 30, 2012

new jobs for negative political ad writers....

We spent months listening to negative ads about politicians.  Then we had weeks
of happy talk about Christmas sales.  Christmas sale ads could be fun though.  Why
not take the negative ad writers and use them on holiday sales commercials?  

For example,  cue evil sounding music and announcer with low, threatening voice who
has been out of work since the elections ended:

From J.C. Penney: "some Wal-Mart workers are on strike due to low pay and bad
working conditions.  Do you really want to support a company that would do that
to the people that try to help you?  There are alternatives to Wal-Mart.  No, really…."

From Wal Mart:  "J.C. Penney stocks are down.  Their never having a sale strategy
tanked.  They're desperate.  And desperate people will do anything to sell you stuff.
Can you really trust J.C. Penney?"

This would be much more fun to watch than the infinite parade of perfect looking, smiling
people expressing joy over the low priced spatula they found.  Let's bring negative advertising
to Christmas.  

Sears is responsible for the content of this message.  

Not really. 

time for "real world" to evolve...some suggestions...

Alternate Real World:

Since Real World on MTV has been around for two decades, maybe it's time for new ideas for the show.  I thought I would suggest a few:

1.  Instead of the cast consisting of some white people and a token black, a token Hispanic and token gay, do one season of Real World with  2 gay housemates,  2 black housemates, 2 Hispanic housemates  and include a token white heterosexual.  
2.  Put the whole bunch of them in Keokuk, Iowa and watch the hilarity ensue.
3.  Make all the housemates Harvard and Yale graduates.  Give them the same unlimited alcohol they give all Real World casts.  We will learn that smart people can be as dumb as the dopey people that  make up the usual cast.
4.  Have the whole cast  be average looking.  
5.  Make the housemates consist of 4 Republican and 4 Democratic U.S. House Representatives and watch them try to come to bipartisan agreement on where to go for lunch.  The cameras then follow them as they go to the local "Hooters" restaurant.
6.  MTV gives a dollar to charity each time a housemate says "like" or has to be bleeped.
7.  Put the housemates in a dry county.  Then force the cast to have a discussion about a topic.  Any topic.
8.  Maybe it's time for a location that doesn't have the glitz of San Francisco, New York or Las Vegas.  
     Think three words:  "Real World, Damascus"

Monday, November 26, 2012

"We don't need no stinking copyright laws" says some Republicans

Republicans are right:     copyright law was not designed for the purpose of guaranteeing profit to the copyright holders.
Republicans are wrong:  in that, the purpose of copyright law was to make sure copyright holders were encouraged to produce more by guaranteeing them any compensation due.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Racist Kids Will Be Racist Kids..

Racist  Kids will be Racist Kids…

(please note that linked articles include strong racist terms and profanity)

I hate when someone starts a column or a speech with rhetorical questions.  But I am going to.
If a teen publishes something stupid on the internet, should the teen suffer consequences?  And does the school have a responsibility in bringing that student to justice?  Does the term "bringing that student to justice" suggest that broadcasting something stupid is a crime?  

When I look back on my teen years, there are stupid things I said that I wish I hadn't.  In my case, most don't remember the dopey things I said.  When teens  vent their worst thoughts they're on the internet.  On twitter and Facebook.  Available to the world in perpetuity.  Tracie Egan Morrissey found some of these tweets and reprinted them.  

Tracie's November 9  article on, ran a column of tweets of teens venting their anger at Obama being reelected.  The tweets include the racial terms that I can not repost here.  And profanity I wouldn't repost here.  Then she called those student's high schools to find out what, if any, action the school might take toward those students.  

Is the role of a blogger to rat on a tweeter exercising First Amendment rights?  Maybe what 
Tracie has highlighted is the checks and balances of the internet.  If we search we can find the range of viewpoints that exist in our world.  We need to know that such racism exists.  

A follow up article from  featured the racist and profane responses of adults who were mad at the website for calling the kids out.  Teens hate being called "kids."  But teens are, by definition,  young and going to make mistakes that adults will catch.  But now those mistakes might be captured and retweeted.  The follow up article featuring the bigotry of adults only shows us that the kids learn from the adults.  

The racist teens and inquiring Jezebel bloggers are part of the checks and balances. Should a blogger have called the schools?  I'm a parent.  I want my daughter's school to be challenged.  Is printing racist terms a crime that should be called to justice?  What do you think about hate speech?

Yes, I left you with a rhetorical question.  

A delayed appreciation

I should have mentioned this earlier.  I hope it's never too late for a kind word.

A Facebook friend, a long-time successful television news producer, wants to write a book on what is wrong with journalism today.  He wondered two things:  1.  would anybody read it? and 2.  how many volumes would it take?

With cynicism high and hope for quality journalism low, comes word from the New York Times.  At a newspaper that values their journalistic heritage, the paper published an article though they were quite sure it would cost advertising revenue.

The New York Times' David Barboza  broke a story awhile ago about the "vast wealth of the Chinese prime minister's family." The Times published the article for two reasons--it was true and it was newsworthy.  As a result, the Times website was blocked in China causing its advertisers to have no access to the audience it was promised.   

Recently, the New York Times company reported its net income for the third quarter had declined more than 85 percent compared to the same period last year.   Its stock dropped more than 22 percent.  Losing ad revenue in China, or anyplace else, right now is maybe not a good business decision.  The Times concluded that a Chinese politician helping his family financially at the government's expense is a good story.  So they ran it.

There is a lot wrong with journalism today.  The problems are technological, sociological, economic and perhaps due to an ever shortening attention span on the part of its audience.  What the New York Times reminded us is that the problems are not part of a natural evolution.  They are a choice.  The New York Times chose to do quality, responsible journalism, no matter what the costs.  Because the story was true and newsworthy.  They made a choice.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

some 9/11 thoughts--on media and one other thing

In political news:  In front of the capital today, John Boehner gave a dignified and appropriate tribute to the heroes and victims of 9/11.  As he worked to control his emotions and his voice cracked, I do hope that all will take the day off from snark about him showing his emotion.  Nothing wrong with a man showing his humanity as a country deals with the inhumanity of eleven years ago.

CNN showed the speeches and showed the services in front of the capital.  However, the crawl at the bottom of the screen during those speeches told audiences that Jerry Lawler collapsed during a WWE taping and Rove's Crossroads organization is releasing more ads.  Fox News had the class to run a crawl of the names of those that died on 9/11.  Fox showed a lack of class by simultaneously running a discussion of one view of the country's economic condition and that it was all the Democrat's fault.  

No network, broadcast or cable, could spare any time to show the survivors of 9/11 reading the names of those that died that day.  No network could take time away from advertising to show respect to the fallen.  No network could relinquish an opportunity for a commercial to show the survivors  reading the names of the people that died, the people they knew.

MSNBC did what they have done each year on the anniversary which is showing NBC's news coverage in real time as it occurred that day.  Without a crawl and without interruption.  One network still had some idea of perspective.  

As I write this, with great dignity, the survivors read out the names of those that died in New York City on 9/11.  And no network could show them.  Not while there are commercials to run.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

MTV: Fraud

Usually, a blogger offers hyperlinks to the items being referenced.  I am not hyperlinking the Video Music Awards (VMA's for folks as old as me).  Because MTV is a fraud.  The network has hyped through "Rock the Vote," the idea of an engaged youth.  A voting youth.  An informed youth.  It's apparently a fraud.
Tonight,  one week after watching Mitt Romney gave his address to the Republican Convention, President Obama had his moment in front of his party and a nation.  The NFL moved a football game to a different night to accommodate this important speech.  MTV made sure that young people that maybe, just might, listen to the President, instead would watch MTV.  The network counterprogrammed the President with the VMA's.
The CEO of Viacom, who owns MTV, Philippe Dauman, worked with the Gates Foundation to start "Get Schooled" an organization seeking to raise the awareness of the crisis in our public schools.  But that was three years ago.  Dauman has obviously abandoned his desire to make sure our young people have their priorities straight.  His network counterprogrammed.  
Daumann is not a Republican.  Or a Democrat.  He has given generously to both parties.  Perhaps his network had partisan intents.  Perhaps his network was just out to make a buck tonight.  At the expense of an informed youth.  MTV is a fraud.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Of Newsrooms and Icons

Even though the Olympics are done, there is still TV worth watching...

Aaron Sorkin's HBO program Newsroom is doing what Sorkin's West Wing did:  create a thoroughly fictitious world where standards and ethics still matter.  While he's at it, he paints complex, fascinating characters whose emotional needs are always secondary to their needs to serve the public interest.  Whether the latter point is a virtue can be debated since most all the characters from both West Wing and Newsroom are single or divorced. 

Another point that can be debated is whether creating such an ideal world gives us something to strive for or something to bemoan as unattainable. 

I also appreciate that although Newsroom take all of its story lines from the headlines, its promos never mention "ripped from the headlines."

The show had its season finale already.  That is an annoying aspect of HBO series.  Very few episodes until they take their siesta.  Wait for it to come back.  (well, you have no choice but to wait…)  (it is worth wait)

And if you absolutely, have to read…

Two from Tom Shales.

Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live.  Sure, it's ten years old already. SNL is like the economy--people are constantly predicting its demise and then it resurrects again for no apparent reason and despite 
the advice of experts.  Tom Shales (and James Andrew Miller) tell the story by letting all those that lived it tell the story.  Through unedited interviews with basically everybody (except Eddie Murphy), all those moments that you remember or heard about are explained and demythified.  The stories of John Belushi's excesses, Chevy Chase's excesses, producer Lorne Michael's excessive ego and all the others that made up the show are told--by the people that lived them.  With no foreshadowing and minimal opionating from the authors.  It is an amazing look into broadcast history from those that made broadcast history.

Extra good news:  Live from New York is available in the cheap racks at most book stores.

Also, ESPN  Those Guys Have All the Fun  Inside the World of ESPN.   Shales and Miller explain the early days of ESPN when it was a goof with little hope of becoming, well,  ESPN.  The people that created and nurtured the network from a theory to a legend tell their own story.  The authors offer minimal editorializing and do not foreshadow.  Full disclosure: I went to college with Linda Cohn, legendary ESPN SportsCenter anchor.  I don't include this disclosure for journalistic reasons. I am bragging that I did the news on our campus radio station with Linda.  One of the nicest people I knew. 

ESPN and SNL supplied iconic programming that has collectively given us so many moments that are part of our media history.   How they started, how they both almost failed and who made them what they are today--amazing stories told first hand by those that lived them.  

And finally:

ABC New's Nightline beats Leno and Letterman in its time slot after local news.  So, this January, ABC is going to take away its time slot and move it behind Jimmy Fallon.  Because two variety shows after local news is clearly not enough.  I believe if ABC supervised Jamaican sports, it would have Usain Bolt competing in equestrian events.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Days of Commercial Free DVR Viewing May Be Numbered

ImMEDIAte Needs:  Days of commercial free DVR viewing may be numbered….

So you DVR your favorite shows to avoid commercials.  Your days of freedom from commercials may be numbered.

And that might be good news for your favorite shows.

Comcast has just applied for a patent for an invention that would allow advertisers to post ads on your DVR programming when you try to avoid advertising by fast forwarding.  The technology would even allow advertisers to target you specifically based on your viewing habits.  (So, if you watch more public television are you sending a message that you will do anything to avoid commercials?)

Monetizing the DVR may actually save your favorite shows.  During the recent National Association of Broadcasting convention I spoke to a person from Fox Television.  I mentioned to her that I hope she can save “Fringe.” 

She said that while ratings for “Fringe” were dismal, the number of DVR views was impressive. Well, “Fringe” will come back for thirteen episodes this Fall.  And many of its viewers will apparently watch the show via DVR.  Perhaps if those DVR viewers had to watch some advertising, the viewers might be rewarded by getting more than a half-season commitment. 

Yes, watching commercials is the punishment we endure for enjoying our favorite shows. Yes, we avoid that punishment by using our DVR option.  If we endure a little punishment with our DVR viewing, we might be able to save our favorite shows.

And maybe not running “Fringe” on Friday night might increase live viewership?

Update:  DISH network has announced a system that allows viewers to automatically skip commercials while watching programs on DVR.  Fox, NBC and CBS all filed suit to stop the roll out two weeks ago of Auto Hop, the new service from the satellite provider. 

This Memorial Day weekend, a commentator on the NPR program “On The Media” predicted the end of broadcast television by 2020.  Are we seeing the beginning of that end?

For comments or to see some past columns, please go to:


Babbling bloggers not always journalists....

He/She who babbles is not always a journalist. 

A conservative blogger interrupted President Obama during the president’s announcement of a new policy dealing with illegal immigrants. Though the blogger failed to show the maturity of an actual journalist, the fact that he received press credentials to the White House suggest that some bloggers may be perceived as journalists.

Well, a Montana judge has determined that a blogger is not necessarily a journalist.  No, my feelings are not hurt.  This non-binding ruling concluded that a blogger, specifically Crystal Cox, was not a journalist.   Some definition of what a journalist is (and is not) might help those of us who mine the internet for information to determine what is real info and what is made up for convenience sake.

Federal Judge Marco Hernandez said Cox was not a journalist because she offered no professional qualifications as a journalist or legitimate news outlet.   The judge offered a detailed definition of a journalist by stating what Cox lacked:
--She had no journalism education,
--no credentials or affiliation with a recognized news outlet,
--no proof of adhering to journalistic standards such as editing or checking her facts,
--no evidence she produced an independent product or evidence she ever tried to get both sides of the story.

Ms. Cox said she was a journalist since she had produced over 400 blogs and had developed a system to get her blogs on the top of on-line lists using a unique method of search engine optimization.

Producing a large quantity of content does not make you a journalist.  Trending on Yahoo does not make you a journalist.  And perhaps that is the problem with journalism today.  Some believe that if you publish something, you are a journalist.  And readers and viewers sometimes believe that if we read it somewhere, a journalist produced it.

This is scary.  When random information takes on the stature of a journalistic endeavor, then the public becomes a less informed electorate.  Quantity of publication does not mean the publisher is a journalist.  An individual who reads a large quantity of info on the internet does not mean the individual is informed. 

There are also immediate practical implications of the judge’s ruling.  In denying the blogger status as a journalist, Ms. Cox is denied the benefits of shield laws.  Shield laws allow journalists to refuse to provide sources for their info to the authorities.  The idea of shield laws is that if a journalist is forced to divulge sources to a judge or grand jury, the journalist will have much less access to information from confidential sources and the public will be less informed.  (There are exceptions to the shield laws. Such laws differ by state.) 

Given the definition offered for what a journalist is, how many of those we watch evenings on  Fox or MSNBC would qualify as journalists?  I know that in this context of a blog, I am not acting like a journalist.  I am offering opinions.  (However, I have fact checked.)  No, the Montana judge did not hurt my feelings.  On the contrary, he offers hope that one day we will know the difference between a journalist and a babbler.

For comments or to see some past columns, please go to:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A comment on a column by Brian Solis

Following is a long segment from an interesting column by Brian Solis.  Following that is a much shorter response.  

A comment on a column by Brian Solis

Segment of Brian’s column:
Today, we’re seeing experimentation across the screens with strategies that invite audience participation. Some live shows now run social media tickers during programs. Other live events feature tweets and also live statistics based on social media analytics. Some programs are integrating community participation into content. Others are using social media to tell supporting stories between seasons or airing special webisodes to keep interest and anticipation high between on air programs. Apps are also emerging to open new windows between programs and mobile audiences.
So what?
What we need to do for any of these initiatives to work is to align them with a higher purpose and a vision for what the new relationship looks like between viewer and the program, the viewer and the program’s elements, storyline and characters/roles, between the viewer and the screen, and between viewers and other viewers.
You must first answer these questions…
What is the objective and the purpose of your social TV initiative?
What kind of relationship are you striving for and how will you enliven it through each channel in a way that’s not only engaging, but also relevant?
What would the “Tweet heard around the world” look like and what is the social spark that would trigger activity?
What does the experience look like on a mobile phone, tablet, PC, and a TV? Meaning, what does the second and third screen experience look like? Design it and also design it back into the first screen programming.
Programming is just the beginning. Advertising also has a new opportunity to engage in a more meaningful way.
Rather than simply buying seconds and using spots to promote social media campaigns, visits to Facebook pages or rallies to Tweet a branded hashtag (brandtag), think about it as a way to tell a story that can live beyond the spot or beyond the campaign. Old Spice learned that its commercials were too successful to treat as traditional campaigns that would start and stop. Viewers don’t “turn off” so why wouldn’t a great story continue to live on across distributed platforms where consumers are more than willing to engage?
Now, Old Spice hosts an ongoing experience where its campaign has become a transmedia experience that perseveres across online, broadcast and social channels. The story, the product, the series keeps viewers engaged. The series also strives to make consumers part of the story where custom videos are created based on input and participation.
Product placement is also open for reinvention. By making products or brands part of the story, advertisers have new opportunities for contextualized storytelling across multiple platforms and the ability to host new interactions, build communities or drive desired outcomes. Everything of course is based on the story advertisers wish to tell and the experience they wish to delivery. The point is that advertising doesn’t just have to end nor does it have to be limited to a finite engagement in new networks and platforms. Storytelling and consumer engagement are infinite if they’re compelling, delightful and shareable. But then again, it takes a different vision supported by an irresistible purpose or intention.
Through experimentation, we are seeing what’s possible. However, networks, advertisers, and producers, must think beyond technology and rethink experiences. By not focusing on the experience or defining the nature of relationships, we fall to mediumalism a condition where we place inordinate weight on the technology of any medium rather than amplifying platform strengths to deliver desired experiences, activity, and outcomes.
The future of Social TV is not yet written nor has it been broadcast. It takes vision. It takes creativity and imagination. It takes innovation. Most importantly, it takes the architecture of experiences to engage, enchant and activate viewers across multiple screens. A hashtag is not a second or third screen experience. Right now, viewers are taking to multiple screens without any cues or direction. What it is you want them to do or say requires explicit design for each screen. Doing so will inspire more informed and creative ideas through the entire broadcast ecosystem, including the original programming on the main screen.

My comment:

Interesting. He is commenting on the distinct uses and gratifications of the related media and realizes that new media and new uses for that media should lead to new forms of content. That content has not materialized yet.

There are a number of variables that need to be accounted for as a generation embraces the new media and "experts" determine the next big thing in terms of medium and programming. Sophistication of the content, storyline development, ability to gain a large audience in an increasingly fractured marketplace are all variables with a wide range of potential execution success.

The term "social media" seems to limit the perceived uses of the media.  Traditional uses and gratifications research looks at issues such as the public's desire to gain orientation to the world around them through the media offering of surveillance of the world, advice on how to deal with issues and developing quasi-relationships with media persona.  Will those traditional uses of the media change with new media or will content providers have to find new ways to fill the old needs?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Maybe Television Deserves to Die

Maybe traditional television deserves to die.  “Traditional” used to just mean broadcast.  But I am lumping basic cable nets in here too.  Television has done so much to take the joy out of television.  There is no dramatic continuity, no freedom from lower third ads that remind you it is fiction you are viewing, no extended scenes where we get to explore a character through his or her reactions. 

My wife and I were watching “The Devil Wears Prada” on ABC some time ago.  I had not seen it before, but my wife was able to tell me what got cut out so I could understand the movie better.  And we had lots of opportunities to talk.  There was a 2-4 minute commercial break after every 5-8 minutes of program.  Any moment that had a risk of me caring about the characters was broken up by yet another commercial break.

Watching a show on Bravo or another cable net means having a dramatic moment interrupted by a lower third promo for another show.  Again, if for some reason, I get caught up in the show and start caring about characters, a lower third promo reminds me I am watching fiction on television and I should not get caught up in the characters.  Bravo commercials say, “Watch what happens.”  I did.  I give up. 

David Kelley, producer of L.A. Law  to Harry’s Law, Picket Fences to Ally McBeal has not quite given up.  But he is pretty annoyed.  In a recent interview with Tavis Smiley he said, “When I started on “L.A. Law,” I think our shows were 48 minutes plus some, with four acts. We’re now down to 41 minutes, six acts, in a one-hour presentation, and it’s absurd. With big, loud commercials coming in every six and seven minutes it’s become incumbent upon us to be noisy, to pound, pound, pound, much more difficult to do the slower-paced, emotional stories that build over time.
It’s just very, very frustrating to cut to a commercial every six, seven or eight minutes.”
Watching “Fringe” means five or six fake, contrived mini-climaxes each preceding a long commercial break.  This pretty much separates the viewer from the emotional connection we have with the show.  I want to love “Fringe.”  The powers that be that run television make loving a show so much of a challenge.
Couldn’t the networks, both cable and broadcast, make television better by cutting back on commercials?  Fewer commercials might mean less tune-out during commercial breaks.  Less opportunity to sample other shows or getting caught up in Weather Channel (or is that only me that gets caught up in TWC?)
Fewer commercials might mean you can charge more per spot since perhaps the advertiser can be promised more eyeballs and less message clutter.  The answer to how to make television better will never be by giving the audience more reason to eliminate emotional involvement and making it easier to watch or maybe even do something else.
If television does die, to be replaced by mobile media, it may not be because they couldn’t sell advertising.  It could be because they sold too much.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Really? The "REAL world?" A few suggestions.

Some of the "Real World" is not real.  That info shook me to my core and made
me reevaluate all things that I held to be truth.  OK.  I lie.  But I did meet Julie from
Birmingham, Alabama who was on the first season of "Real World."

Julie explained that through editing and taking shots from different days the producers
were able to take a small disagreement between her and her mother and stretch the incident into a
two parter.  Here is where you cut to a look of disappointment on my face.  You can take this look
from my recent discovery that my local McDonalds stopped carrying McRib.

Anyway, I thought "Real World" might need some updating.  I submit a few ideas for
the producers to consider on a new show called:

"Real World--the Next Generation."

1.  Instead of the cast consisting of some white people and a token black, a token Hispanic and token gay, make 2 housemates gay, 2 housemates black, 2 housemates Hispanic and include a token white heterosexual.  

2.  Put the whole bunch of them in Keokuk, Iowa and watch the hilarity ensue.

3.  Make all the housemates Harvard and Yale graduates.  Give them the same unlimited free alcohol they give all Real World casts.  We will learn that smart people can be as dumb as the dopey people that make up the usual cast.

4.  Have them all be average looking.  

5.  Make the housemates consist of 4 Republican and 4 Democratic U.S. House Representatives and watch them try to come to bipartisan agreement on where to go for lunch.  The cameras then follow them as they go to the local "Hooters" restaurant.

6.  MTV gives a dollar to charity each time a housemate says "like".

7.  Put the housemates in a dry county.  Then force the cast to have a discussion about a topic.  Any topic.

8.  Think three words:  "Real World, Somalia"

Any additional suggestions are welcome.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Debating the debates

Is there any debate on the silliness of the debates?

The usual format, the moderator asks a question.  The moderator makes the question very similar to the question on the same topic asked in every previous debate. But this time, add a twist to the question to allow each candidate to offer his or her most inflammatory response.  Each candidate has 60 seconds to answer. 

If there is an attack on another candidate, that other debater has thirty seconds to respond.  60 second answers.  30 second responses. I can’t explain to my daughter why she has a ten p.m. curfew in 60 seconds.   I can’t place my order at Ruby Tuesdays in 30 seconds.    And with those time limitations, we are actually supposed to learn about the candidates and make decisions?  The debate format allows errors, cheap applause lines and inflammatory comments. This format, after years of refining the timing, avoids any shred of substantive content. 

The very conservative Newt Gingrich agrees with writers of the not so conservative show, West Wing.  Scrap this format and allow the candidates to debate without time limits, without moderators.  The debater would just debate.  If they had nothing to say past bullet points, we would know.  If their plans only had superlatives but no actual plan, we would know.  If a candidate actually had a bright idea, we would know.  Bring back the Lincoln Douglas debate format. 

Or maybe find new moderators.  I learned very little watching the debates in Iowa and New Hampshire.  They don'’t like “Obama-care.”  Why?  It’s socialized medicine, said Michele Bachmann.  Oh.  How is it like socialized medicine?  Never got to that. 
Did the candidates hate all aspects of “Obama-care”? Is it all bad?  Newt Gingrich admitted in Oskaloosa, Iowa that about “300 pages” of the 2700 page document included good ideas.  Never would hear that in a debate. There'’s no time and no good questions. 

Candidates never had to defend their SuperPACS which both parties will take advantage of to spread lies and near-lies.  The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC allows corporations to spend unlimited money without identifying themselves.  What do candidates think about the decision, about super pacs, —about lying?  No time.  Instead, tonight’s debate sponsored by CNN, Fox News and Chevrolet would like to ask this question for the seventh time—but with tonight’'s added twist:
What will you do if your granddaughter announces she wants to marry a gay illegal alien?

At least make the debates fun.  Bring in Alex Trebek.  Make the candidates have to respond in the form of a question.   We would not learn anything less than the current debate format offers.

One last question: Is the current short answer/short response model of debates because the moderators don'’t think the politicians are smart enough to give anything but short answers? Or is it they think the audience is too dumb to pay attention to the longer answers? 

Please tell me this is not REALITY!!

            I have an idea for a hit TV show. It's a 'can't miss.'  It's copyrighted so don't try to steal it.  The name of the show?  "Bridezillas That Became Real Housewives That Raised Toddlers With Tiaras."   Sure hit, right?
            It's got everything that reality television needs.  It has people we can make fun of and feel superior to (even though some of them are richer than us). And it's got toddlers being psychologically abused by self-absorbed mothers with the IQ of a cumquat (the mothers, not the babies). 
            Yes, this is reality television today.  The highlight of each show is the inevitable rejection and heartbreak.  It is the bachelor rejecting a woman who after spending six minutes in a hot tub with a man realizes that they were destined to be together.  Until she gets rejected.
            It is the singer who knows she has what it takes to be a star and has focused her life on this moment of the audition.  The moment of audition was a better fantasy then reality.  She gets rejected.
            Reality television is merely human degradation for our entertainment. It is merely the celebration of failure for the sole purpose of making us feel superior to the slugs on Bridezilla. And it is the joy of allowing us to revel in how empathetic we all are as we watch these shows.
            Perhaps there is no money to be made watching normal people.  Perhaps the low cost of production and high ratings of many reality shows guarantees they will be here for a long time to come. 
            Perhaps sometimes we can take a moment to reflect on the thought that reality television celebrates human degradation.  It makes us feel good by watching someone else feel bad.  It makes us feel good watching people making fools of themselves. We are entertained as we shake our heads in disapproval and amazement watching a sixteen year old girl who is excited she can be on television, as long as she gets pregnant. 
            Feeling good by watching someone else feel bad is what bullies do in middle school.  It is also the mindset that reality television allows us.