Trouble in TV land

Posted: Mar 31, 2005 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Look around you. We are achieving our strategic ends in the Middle East faster than expected. Freedom and stability that were unimaginable only a few years ago are now in sight. Never in the history of the area has such a thing been thought possible. At home, the economy is sound and growing. The president is moving toward tax simplification, Social Security reform, and tort reform because he believes in such things and is willing to fight for them rather than spend his last years in office shaking hands and smiling.

 So what is the talk of the media, specifically cable television? Aside from the botched discussion of the fate of Terri Schiavo, it is the saga of Michael Jackson, a creep who appeals solely to creeps and to the more sophisticated sorts who feast on stories of money and notoriety -- which is to say celebrity. I say the botched discussion of the Schiavo case because serious science and serious ethics have been drowned out by sentiment and ignorance. Again journalism has not been up to the challenge of history.

 Yet to return to the appalling Jackson case -- he has suffered a setback . The judge in his case has ruled that the jury can hear past allegations of sexual abuse involving at least five other boys, one of whom received more than $20 million in an out-of-court settlement. This is very good news, if only because it may hasten the day when the cable news sages move on to something of greater importance, for instance, the implementation of America's first shift in strategic policy since 1947 when President Harry Truman adopted the policy of containment to contain the Soviet Union. Our new policy adopted to confront terrorism and Islamofascism is the policy of preemption. Surely it deserves equal time with Michael Jackson's teddy bears, pornography, and mannequins, which he collected at his idiot manse, Neverland. After that, cable television might address the looming domestic battles over the president's new policies at home constituting his "ownership society."

 The tone adopted by the sages on cable news for addressing the Michael Jackson trial and nonsensical world Jackson inhabits is hypocrisy at its best. First, there is the omniscience. The sages talk as though they know just everything about this case and this creep. Second is a tone of moral and intellectual superiority -- about precisely what, it is difficult to say; but the sages are markedly superior. So why are they gabbling on about it? Well, they are slumming. From their perches of superiority, they are dipping down to give their viewers an amusing glimpse of the creep and his case.

 As for the creep himself, he has finally settled on his defense. He is the victim of prejudice and of a "conspiracy." In other words, he will use the same tactics to defend himself as the Clintons used. Do not be surprised if he begins talking about a "Vast White-Thing Conspiracy." Interviewed the other day by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, theologian and humanitarian, the creep claimed he is being persecuted as other "black luminaries" have. He mentioned Nelson Mandela and two former heavyweight champions. He already has alluded to a conspiracy besetting him. To the reverend he said, " ? a lot of conspiracy is going on as we speak." Hillary and Bill know just what he is talking about.

 Michael Jackson is one of the pop culture phenomena of the era of celebrity. Modestly talented in one area, he managed to amass a vast amount of money through clever marketing. With it legitimatizing him, he went on to claim an array of talents that he manifestly lacks. He can dance. That is about it. He is also repulsive and spectacularly stupid. In his interview with the reverend, this lifelong musician made this memorable statement: "I loved the album that Tchaikovsky did -- the 'Nutcracker Suite.' It's an album where every song is a great song." I did not actually hear this interview, but I wonder. Did the reverend and the King of Pop then commence to sing a few ditties from the "Nutcracker"? Did they mention any other albums by this guy Tchaikovsky?

        The level of intellect now maintained on cable news is, if possible, even lower than the level of intellect maintained throughout the rest of televisionland, with the sane exception of C-SPAN. After the Michael Jackson trial ends, one wonders, what will come next? Perhaps this guy Tchaikovsky will be indicted for some weird transgression. They say out there on his ranch he does some strange things with those nutcrackers.