Debra J. Saunders
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2010 was a year consumed with silly stories. The more trivial the controversy, the more airtime it consumed. Although not all the silly stories made conservatives look stupid, the more a squabble tarnished the right, the surer it was to generate talking-head babble. And then they fizzle, as most non-stories do.

Where to begin?

The Quran burning. After every media person in America dumped on Florida pastor Terry Jones for being a dangerous clown, and after two Quran-loving protesters died in Afghanistan, Jones didn't deliver on his threat to burn a Quran on the anniversary of 9/11. Yet a Nexis database search on "Terry Jones" and "Quran" shows the non-event generated more than 2,900 articles.

Any story about Sarah Palin. She's not Alaska's governor any more. She's not a declared candidate. She is a genius at getting on cable TV.

Palin understands the trigger words -- for instance, when she told supporters in April, "don't retreat, reload" -- that can turn a Facebook post into a three-day, 24-hour debate. If she tweets, it's national news. When it became apparent her daughter Bristol couldn't dance, "Dancing With the Stars" became a news story.

If the right person dishes Palin -- be it Oprah, Joy Behar, Andrew Sullivan or any other lib whom you'd expect to sneer at Palin -- somehow that's news, too.

Few expect Palin to run for president. But all she has to do is tease the press with the possibility that she might run in 2012, and she is rewarded with priceless book-promoting publicity. If she does run, only amateurs think she has a snowball's chance in Florida of winning the GOP nod. But it seems TV news producers -- and Palin haters eager for another fix -- just can't help themselves. It's like an addiction.

The incestuous relationship between "The View" and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. "The View" ladies regularly scold O'Reilly; he airs video of what they said. Sometimes he invites a she-critic on his show; they bicker, then make nice. Both sides manage to come across as preachy, insincere and smarmy.

Larry King's retirement. How can you tell?

Note to CNN execs: King's ratings were in the toilet before he announced in June he was retiring. So why did you devote hours of airtime covering the exit of a talk-show host -- whom Americans stopped watching because he was boring -- surrounded by the usual sycophants who made the show so irritating? Why treat his retirement as if it were (a) important and (b) tragic? CNN's indulgent send-off to King wasn't news. It was self-promotion, and wrong-headed self-promotion at that. Any ratings gain from the last night is more than offset by the news network's nosedive in the credibility department.

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Debra J. Saunders


 
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