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Talking Heads, Plural

How many countless times have you tuned into a news program expecting (or hoping) to see and hear a rational, intelligent and adult discussion of some topical matter only to be confronted by childish, egocentric and unintelligible blather?

You know the drill: the host has two guests of opposing viewpoints to “discuss” an issue. Person A states the “A” position. But when person B begins to explain the “B” position, person A interrupts and begins to talk over person B who continues to talk resulting in nothing less than just plain noise. Neither viewpoint is being heard. No one is being informed. Neither side is moving the needle in either direction. No one wins. Everyone loses.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

When confronted, the networks, the producers and the hosts of such programs typically try to hide behind the apron strings of the first amendment and their commitment to and belief in free speech.

OK. Let’s get one thing clear. Listening to so-called adults scream back and forth at each other and talk over one another has nothing to do with free speech. That is simply being childish, boorish, spoiled and selfish. Ironically, since neither party can be heard, there isn’t much free speech being practiced.

Who’s at fault? Let’s be honest. There is plenty of blame to go around. However, as someone who in a previous life conducted broadcast interviews, let me say that the person most to blame is the program host. The host needs to be the traffic cop. The host needs to ensure that both sides of the issue have their respective chances to be heard. Even if this means cutting the microphone of the offending party – or parties.

Until the host(s) of one of these gabfests grows a backbone and takes back control their own programs and forces civility and dignity on the guests, I will continue to do what I did the last time this happened: I grabbed the clicker and CLICKED the on/off switch and retired to read a book. I became more informed and was the better for it.

I suppose I could have CLICKED to another channel but there was no guarantee that I would not have experienced the same type of spectacle.

I can only hope that more of you will do the same. It may require several hundred thousand of us (or more) to act in this way before the blow-dried talk show hosts begin to wise up and act like adults… but I wouldn’t count on it. After all, they do work in broadcasting.

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