The Knucklehead Problem

By Bob Gaydos

 When I decided to join the blogosphere, I wrote a piece for Zest explaining that, now, after spending 23 years of relative anonymity as an editorial writer, my opinions would be personal. It’s not that what I wrote as editorials weren‘t my personal opinions,  but of necessity they needed to be of universal topics. Things people might want to read about. I also had to consider where the views appeared, their audience and that, ultimately, I was speaking for the publisher of the newspaper. Unencumbered by those legitimate preconditions, I now feel free to also write about things people should want to read about and to vent some of my own strictly personal views on perhaps less-”important’ topics. Topics that I hope may have some universal appeal.

 That’s a too-lengthy way of getting to something that has bugged me for several years and shows no sign of abating: the cultural phenomenon of cable TV talking heads spewing nonsense, anger and even hate under the guise of “news.” Although I am retired, I still write newspaper editorials on occasion. That requires me to keep up to date on what’s going on in the world and, since I try to be thorough, I try to listen in to what the cableheads are blabbing about.

 It’s impossible. Forget water boarding. A week of the Foxes, the NBC’s and even CNN is pure torture. Not only do the gatherings of opinion-mongers start with a biased view of what the story is, they virtually never try to fairly present the other side. Forget simply giving the facts. But what really gets under my skin is that, for all the heat and anger and controversy these shows strive to create, for all the pointed questions they pose, they never try to come up with an answer.

 In the corporate world, the 12-step world, for all I know every world that depends on  some kind of logic, it is said that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. It’s even a cliché. I hereby submit that cable TV “news” shows (and the financial ones are guilty of this, too) are and have been a major reason for the divisiveness in American society. They not only talk about the divisiveness, they cause it. They are predicated on finding fault with someone or some proposal or some law and ripping it to shreds, usually with specious facts. They do not care about offering reasonable compromises because solutions do not generate heat or ratings. They’re boring. Did Jerry Springer make his millions by putting marriages back together?

 Politicians, being self-absorbed and primarily worried about collecting enough money to run enough attack ads to win elections, have bought into the process. Maybe they even started it. Doesn’t matter. It is pandemic in political life in this country, which is why Barack Obama is  having less success convincing Congress that things have to change than he is with the American public.

 Still, his election suggests that Americans may have started to get fed up with  politicians who are good at attacking each other, but useless at finding solutions to problems. New Yorkers need look no farther than Albany for a perfect example of political egos making a mockery of government. Is there a solution? Not a political one if neither party will bend. We might hope the courts will see what’s going on in the State Senate as an emergency, which it is, and create some temporary solution. Maybe some good government group (NYPIRG? LWV? COMMON CAUSE?) will sue to demand that the vacant position of lieutenant governor be filled by special election or gubernatorial appointment to break the deadlock in the Senate. But it seems obvious that some solution will have to be imposed on these knuckleheads because clearly they do not see themselves as the problem. That remains for voters to demonstrate.

Bob can be reached at


2 Responses to “The Knucklehead Problem”

  1. FManuele Says:

    Excellent point of veiw!
    As if the last eight Bush years weren’t enough, we still have to be turned off by the likes of Coulter, Cheney, Rove, Lumbering Limbaugh and a slew of other talking heads that get attenetion because they are like attack dogs getting ready to bite. The bunch are hubristic con artists that never have practical solutions, but always updated blame stories or rumor mongering.

    The only source for news at present, is to hit the internet for the major newpapers, blog sites (Huffington Post or The Beast )or the AP. Hopefully the info will be consistent in fact and content.

    Tabloid news and ratings scrambles will not go away in our lifetime, but shutting off TV news may screw up their ratings so badly that they might be replaced by reality shows or soap operas.

    Good article. Wish you and Beth wrote for the Record. The commentary hasn’t been interesting since she left.


  2. LeeAgain Says:

    I don’t believe our Founding Fathers ever dreamed of career politicians. Nowadays, once elected, a politician’s primary goal is to get re-elected. All other responsibilities go on the back burner. Besides, once you’re elected one of the big-wigs with money and fame (or notoriety), who remembers the lower classes? Maybe the answer lies in paying every politician a salary equal to the average salaries of the people he/she represents. And maybe every politician on the ballot should have exactly the same amount of air time and ad space at re-election time. And maybe NOBODY should be allowed to contribute to campaign funding. Ah, how different government could be!

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