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(40,416 posts)
Tue Jan 21, 2014, 10:08 PM Jan 2014

"What you observe is a great wasteland."

I post this here without comment, and invite DUers to consider that these words were said by the head of the FCC, Newton Minow, on May 9, 1961.

When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it.

There are few bright lights. As it has ever been, even in 1961.
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(7,300 posts)
2. Daily Show/Colbert
Reply to RC (Reply #1)
Tue Jan 21, 2014, 10:16 PM
Jan 2014

The only "TV" I watch is those 2 shows and on the 'Net. I don't miss the idiot box one iota.


(40,416 posts)
4. I deliberately posted this without comment.
Reply to RC (Reply #1)
Tue Jan 21, 2014, 10:21 PM
Jan 2014

Now I will.

Rupert Murdock and his Fox enterprise have extended their fingers into many media channels. The same people who control Fox now control many of the previously known "educational" cable channels.

When was the last time anybody saw history on the History Channel?

When was the last time anybody saw science on the Discovery Channel?

When was the last time when there was arts on A&E?


Follow the money.


(83,745 posts)
8. What you stated, longship, these are the reasons I stopped watching a long time ago.
Tue Jan 21, 2014, 11:18 PM
Jan 2014

I get my news from the internet. I have more control over the stories I care about. I no longer have to be burdened with hearing the repetitious, blah blah blah of stories that the media deems to be a shiny object.


(40,416 posts)
9. I would have disagreed with that in the early 70's
Tue Jan 21, 2014, 11:29 PM
Jan 2014

When Nixon was brought down by the press.

I see some elements of the same with the Recent Christie scandal.

I watched All the President's Men last night, the whole movie, in order to hear Jason Robards, Jr. channelling the WaPo Senior Editor Ben Bradlee explaining the concept of the non-denial denial.

That paradigm is long since gone. The Republican interface with the press has long ago gone far past equivocation. They no longer feel the need to do that. They will now knowingly outright lie.

That's my takeaway of recent events.


(3,572 posts)
14. I agree with your sentiments, but to be fair...
Tue Feb 4, 2014, 10:55 PM
Feb 2014

Fox (or their other tentacles) own none of those former "educational" channels you mentioned. Two are owned by A&E Networks, which is a Disney/ABC/Hearst company. The other, Discovery, is owned by Discovery Networks which is largely held by the Newhouse media family.

But, again, your sentiments are spot-on. I have to laugh at some of the mindless "history" on the "History Channel."

Ron Green

(9,822 posts)
3. Of course now the station never signs off.
Tue Jan 21, 2014, 10:19 PM
Jan 2014

TV is the perfect example of what the Free Enterprise System does.


(40,416 posts)
5. Since when was it in the people's interest to make them ignorant?
Tue Jan 21, 2014, 10:37 PM
Jan 2014

That's what Minow was trying to say.

What a great tool modern media is. One can use to help people to learn, or one can suppress people with ignorance.

The only Sitcom I ever watched regularly was Seinfeld. In spite of its insipid --and apparently obligatory-- laugh track, it was the best because it relentlessly skewered the sitcom. It was a very risky endeavor and Jerry Seinfeld wrapped it up when he felt that he did as much damage as he was ever going to do.

Even now comedies have a laugh track. It's like having some gross dude sitting next to you elbowing you in the ribs every time he thinks something is funny. Of course, almost all the comedy is sophomoric, adolescent humor. No one dares cross over the line.

For Christ sakes, Seinfeld had an episode on penis shrinkage. I dare TV to reproduce any semblance of that.


(60,212 posts)
10. To be fair to the medium, there has been some amazing television in the last 10 years
Wed Jan 22, 2014, 12:20 AM
Jan 2014

I partially credit the internet.

Back in the day, if you missed an episode of "Breaking Bad," you'd have to ask someone what happened. If you missed 4 episodes, you may as well give up on the show because you were sunk.

Now you can read a summary or watch the thing online.

I think we're in a golden age.


(7,951 posts)
12. It would be golden if it were used correctly.
Wed Jan 22, 2014, 12:35 AM
Jan 2014

Excuse while I watch "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" followed by the Kardashians.


(40,416 posts)
13. I have a problem with the concept of being sunk...
Wed Jan 22, 2014, 12:42 AM
Jan 2014

...by missing four episodes of Breaking Bad one is sunk.

I would prefer that people enjoy entertainment and realize that it is what it is. I would prefer that people understand that the televisionary set -- thank you, Gabby Hayes -- rarely informs. It deforms.

I would invoke Marshall McLuhan here for those who don't understand the concept, but television is a cultural changing technology, and little of it is for the betterment.

Both Nimow and McLuhan understood both it's cultural power and its dangers.

The medium is indeed the massage.

Tell me more about what Oprah's been saying, or what Wolf Blitzer thinks today.

Journalism outside the Internet is dead.

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