Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pro-wrestling is to Sports as Political Talk Show Hosts are to News

This is the first of my postings to branch out from just comparing CNN and Fox News in order to discuss things that get in the way of true dialogue about the issues (hence the addition of "etc." to my blog title). I believe that political talk show hosts get in the way of that dialogue. I see a comparison with pro wrestling.

Pro-wrestling is not a sport. It sounds like a sport. It looks kind of like a sport. The “wrestlers” have to have some sort of athletic ability. However, it is first and foremost, entertainment. Some have referred to it as a soap opera for males.

Similarly, many political talk show hosts are not truly news reporters and commentators. It kind of sounds like they are. The hosts do have to have some level of intelligence and political savvy. However, they are first and foremost, entertainers. They whip up their audiences against the other side. They create shows that will give them ratings. They become personalities that people either love or love to hate. They do not, however, really add to the honest discussion of issues.

On Oct 13, 2003, PBS broadcast a Terrance Smith interview of Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes. Sean and Alan are a conservative and liberal paired for the Fox TV show Hannity and Colmes. Concerning talk radio, here two comments from the interview but you can see the entire transcript at the link below:

SEAN HANNITY: It's all about money, ratings, and the bottom line. If you produce a show that will draw an audience, if you can get an audience, and you can keep them for as long as possible and generate ratings, then you will also generate revenue, and that's the bottom line for these station owners.

ALAN COLMES: I happen to be a liberal hosting a talk radio program. You know, we've been successful, and we've only been on for six months. We've got some top stations around the country. I think it's not so much about your ideology, as it is about, you know, are you entertaining? Are you a good host? It's not are you liberal or are you conservative? I think Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, if they were liberal and doing the kind of shows they're still doing, they would still be successful because they are broadcasters who understand the medium. It's not about whether you're left or right, it's what you bring to the table that attracts an audience. And an audience is going to listen, if you're entertaining, and I don't think it's about being left or right. And I think that's what a lot of people miss.

Bottom line for me is to remember that these are entertainers and not spokespeople for any party or ideology.

Link for the transcript:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/media/interviews/colmeshannity.html

1 comment:

DaFreak said...

I know you have a quote from Hannity and Rush often says the same thing, but this arguement is mostly published by the left because they can't figure out why talk radio doesn't work for them.

It's not about the entertainer or the type of show, some very entertaining leftists have attempted talk radio and failed.

The truth is its about the DEMOGRAPHICS.

Talk radio is mostly listened to by White, working-class males not the poor or minority groups. Not by young high school or college students. Not by Hollywood or artistic people. Bot by college professors/scientists, the rich, upperclass or Elitists.

If you put a liberal radio talk show on MTV or incorporate them with Rick Dees they may have a better showing, but on AM talk radio its just not going to happen, at least not to the height of success that such hosts as Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly, Micheal Savage, or Micheal Reagan have experianced.