Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Special Comment

And now, as threatened—er, I mean as promised—a Special Comment.

There was a time when this reporter had only two “must see” television shows: Seinfeld and the Sunday Night SportsCenter, with Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann. Olbermann left, and immediately disappeared onto the maw that was early MSNBC, only to re-appear when he caught on to George W. Bush’s sleight of hand faster than most.

While it must be admitted that many of Mr. Olbermann’s Special Comments are spot on, no one can view his delivery of these comments for long before becoming repulsed by the false and inappropriate histrionics used in their delivery.

[Turn to face other camera.]

Not content to let the words speak for themselves, your manner of speaking approaches a level of scenery chewing associated with watching William Shatner perform King Lear. Your voice trembles, your head shakes with indignation, though only moments before you concluded a segment with the words, “Today’s worst person in the worrrrrld!” after poking fun at whoever earned your daily wrath.

Those who find themselves in your crosshairs richly deserve it. It is the exaggerated venom and ire of the Special Comments that we take issue with. You may say it is entertainment, and you clearly relish your self-appointed role as the Bill O’Reilly of the Left. Yet it is you, sir, who usurp the gravitas of your betters by appropriating Huntley and Brinkley’s theme music, and Edward R. Murrow’s sign-off.

[Rustle prop pages and return to Camera One.]

Last Friday you took Hillary Clinton to task for juxtaposing comments about her will to remain a presidential candidate with the assassination of Robert Kennedy. A crude and tasteless statement, to say the least. Yet you, sir, devoted virtually seventy-five percent of your broadcast to this matter, then another [add tremor to voice] one thousand, nine hundred and nine words of personal commentary.

[Turn to other camera while spittle is removed from lens of Camera One.]

These additional words shed no light. They added little to our understanding of the matter. They served only to show your audience the depth of your self-indulgence and self-importance, running past your broadcast time into the next program because you—you, sir!­—had to ensure your loyal viewers knew how you, the only voice who felt the injury to its deserved extent, felt.

One thousand, nine hundred and nine words devoted to a fifteen second comment that may or may not have discussed the hypothetical death of a single human being. One thousand nine hundred and nine words. Yet Abraham Lincoln, a man you profess to admire at every opportunity, Abraham Lincoln required only two hundred seventy-eight words to pay eternal and sincere homage to the fifty-one thousand casualties at Gettysburg. We have no videotape of Mr. Lincoln’s address, yet we may be safe to assume it did not include the melodramatics you so regularly append to your comments like decals on a car window.

One thousand, nine hundred and nine words. The Declaration of Independence consists of but thirteen hundred and twenty-two, with no visual aids. John Kennedy’s inaugural address that inspired a generation is thirteen hundred sixty-six. Yet you needed one thousand, nine hundred and nine words to ensure that everyone watching you on Friday, May 23, 2008, one thousand, eight hundred and forty-nine days since the announcement of “Mission Accomplished,” knew the sincerity of your emotions.

[Shuffle prop papers and make obvious effort to compose yourself.]

Sincerity and depth of emotion are not measured by the number of words or accompanying theatrics, sir. Well chosen words, plainly spoken, contain all the meaning and sub-text necessary if their subject is suitably horrendous; if it is not, no quantity of vocal tremolos, or catches in the voice, will do so. Do not listen to me; view the tapes of your spiritual master, Edward R. Murrow. One will do. Watch him ask Senator Joseph McCarthy if he has no shame. Murrow did not play to the camera, nor to the baser tastes of some who were watching. He spoke truth, the unvarnished truth, sir, which has always been, and will always be, adequate to express any emotion. This is why Murrow will be remembered long after you have faded from the memory of even those who study such matters.

Good night [throw prop papers from desk with disgust] and good luck.


Peter Rozovsky said...

I haven't hooked my house up to cable. For some reason, I don't think I'll be rushing off to do so any time soon.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Runs with Scissors said...

Some interesting articles.