Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday night TV

Last night made me want to give up TV.

CNN was rerunning the "Compassion Forum." Yes, I'm a political junkie, but not even I can stand to watch something again that is now a week old. We've had the ABC debate since then, and that superseded whatever oxygen the Compassion Forum had left in the room. Come on, CNN. Are you serious? You don't have anyone who can tell us anything about what's going on in Pennsylvania 36 hours before the primary?

So I was left with a dilemma, because Fox News Channel was running "Hannity's America." As a matter of general course, I avoid Hannity because -- well, let's just say that I appreciate at least some balance in my political news. Of course, I had already ditched the show once this weekend, when it originally aired. But since Headline News was overrun with Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears news, I felt I had no choice.

So Hannity it was. I tried to play devil's advocate, telling myself that it would be good for me to see the show, if for nothing else than to be exposed to it. But by the second commercial break, I could hardly stand it anymore. What gives? I thought. Is Sean Hannity afraid of Barack Obama? He did talk with Karl Rove long enough to Rove to mention Hillary Clinton's name a couple of times -- pretty obviously a token mention, as far as I could tell -- but then they both got back on message, which was more rehashing of those remarks from California, that pastor you've heard all about, that anti-war activist Hannity suckered George Stephanopoulos into mentioning during the ABC debate and that event in Washington in October 1995.

(I won't mention any of these things by name, because as far as I'm concerned, they've all been covered enough. I refuse to be a part of furthering the discussion about any of these things; the more we talk about these, the less we're talking about the real issues.)

I survived "Hannity's America" only to be greeted by "Strategy Room," live with Bret Baier. Gov. Ed Rendell appeared in a focus group (more on those later) on Hillary Clinton's behalf, and he made some statement about how voters are "drinking the Kool-Aid" when it comes to Obama. Frank Luntz said something to the effect of, "You're telling them that they're being suckered." And Rendell, sensing danger, quickly replied, "I just meant because they don't look past the words."

Maybe it's just me, but that statement from Rendell about the Kool-Aid sounded more than a bit condescending. One might even say it was -- dare I say it? -- elitist!

Back to focus groups ... FNC's focus group segment with Frank Luntz gets my vote for the most useless feature this campaign season. Aside from the leading questions that Luntz uses to bait the participants, the participants seem confused and even befuddled at times when he's interviewing them. And then there are those aggravating little dials that people are supposed to turn up or down to reflect their response to a debate, a commercial being screened or whatever else Luntz puts in front of their faces. Talk about your unreliable feedback. Ugh. Every time I see these things, I have these fantasies of sneaking into one of those focus groups and just twisting that dial back and forth, back and forth, just to see what it would do to the results. Ha ha. :)

Arrgh. Is it morning yet?

P.S. As far as obnoxious FNC personalities, let's make it an even three: Greg Gutfeld and his ridiculous "Red Eye" program take the cake. For an example of his forward-thinking, groundbreaking and eloquent political analysis, click here ... then please tell me how someone like this can get picked up by a national cable news network. The good news is that not many people see "Red Eye;" the bad news is that at least a few people still do.