With the current political soap opera in full fury south of the border there is no shortage of choices for the beleaguered news viewer who wants to keep tabs on the world as seen through the lens of US Television. Personally I got into the daily habit of watching Imus In the Morning on MSNBC years ago, and somehow continued to watch Imus’s successor Joe Scarborough, a former US congressman, now host of the Morning Joe show, after Imus was fired for saying some racist things about the New Jersey college basketball team. The show is pure politics in contrast to Imus’s mix of comedy, music and a little politics. Scarborough is the only conservative voice on a cable channel that is home to some of the most left-wing ideologues in American broadcasting. Rachel Maddow and the Reverend Al Sharpton to name two. Maddow’s extremism is made palatable by the way, by the fact that she is funny at times and is really, really smart. Sharpton, is an icon in civil rights circles but he is, plain and simple, a terrible broadcaster and has been exiled to a Saturday Morning time slot ghetto. I think one of the reasons why I stick to Morning Joe as opposed to CNN or Fox is because they have as a co-host Willy Geist, who I consider to be the best in the business at providing some wit and humour as a counterbalance to Scarborough who is overbearing and full of himself.
The rest of my US news viewing schedule is as follows:
Sunday Morning talk show. I watch the venerable Meet the Press, the longest-running TV show in the US. It will celebrate its 70th birthday next year. I watch it, not because the current host, Chick Todd is all that great, he is ok I guess but can’t fill the shoes of the pudgy and amiable Tim Russert who was the best host the show ever had. (Chuck Todd’s immediate predecessor was David Gregory who was fired because he was unable to halt the ratings slide after Russert’s death.) The main reason I watch Meet the Press is because our mother watched it religiously on a black and white 17-inch Admiral TV set back in the early 50’s, and as kids we would watch anything that moved. The days of multiple TV’s in the home were many decades removed.
Evening newscast. NBC again with Lester Holt. I liked Brian Williams, up until he was exposed as a fabulist, and I always liked Lester Holt. When Holt was the weekend News anchor and weekend Today host, I would often remark that NBC’s “B” team was better than the other guys’ “A” team. Holt is also a decent bass player.
Saturday Morning talk show: When others are doing something useful like taking back their empties, I watch CNN’s Smerconish. Michael Smerconish is one of the best interviewers I have encountered– he has the knack of asking the toughest of questions in the most gentlemanly of ways. A rare attribute.
Others: GPS with Fareed Zakaria, Sunday Mornings CNN. Zakaria tends to stay away from US politics but he is well connected globally and, as a secular Muslim, provides an interesting perspective on complex issues like the Mideast. His is the only program on US television outside of possibly PBS that sheds intelligent light on complex international stories. He has the knack of even making a symposium in Davos Switzerland seem interesting.
One inescapable fact comes clear when I review these viewing habits is that I probably spend far too much time in front of the TV—and I’ve only described my US news viewing. There’s still Canadian news.
Written by: John Best