This morning I was mulling over cartoon ideas about the Weiner scandal⎯for example, Dominique Strauss-Kahn commenting with Gallic haughtiness on how we amateurish Americans can’t even figure out how to have a decent sex scandal that includes real sex. Then I realized that this material should be left to the late-night comics. Besides, I’d already stepped in that puddle earlier in the week.
Maybe it was time to say something meaningful, to put a spin on the sordid affair that made readers think a little about their priorities. Actually, this is as much about the media’s priorities. There is the entertaining side of the media, characterized by the New York tabloids. This news is fun to read, and you have to admit that the double-entendre headlines about Rep. Weiner are a daily guilty pleasure.
Then there is the other side of the media, composed of wonks who slog away in the trenches, who use their professional expertise to analyze government programs and their effects, who dissect policies and trends and put up those dreary charts and graphs. They do stories about bond issues and school board overpayments. It’s the stuff we should know about in order to be good citizens. Unfortunately, it doesn’t move product. The tabloid popcorn does.
So you might say that both types of journalism are necessary in order to maintain an informed electorate, and therefore a thriving democracy. We just have to remember⎯media and consumers alike⎯to keep it all in proper balance.
Good luck with that.