Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Why Talking Head Shows Suck

I found this odd bit of TV wisdom from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough at the conclusion of a NYTs article asking whether or not The Daily Show's spin-off the Colbert Report will boom or burn:
Asked if he had any advice for Mr. Colbert, who will also interview one guest each night, Mr. Scarborough passed on a nugget that he said had been given to him by an MSNBC executive.

"If you let someone talk for more than seven seconds on your show without interruption," he said, "then you are a failure."
Which is why talking head shows like Mr. Scarborough's or, even worse, Bill O'Reily's is the journalistic equivalent of McDonald's -- heavy on fat rhetorical flourishes but light on intellectual nutrition. Moreover, as Noam Chomsky argues, the structure of these shows makes it impossible to argue things like the United States sponsors terrorism or engages in imperialism since the person putting forth the proposition is attacked vigorously throughout, making it impossible to finish a sentence, let alone a well-reasoned argument bolstered by evidence.

Sometimes the truth is buried in little throw away articles like this one.