It is a damn good thing for the press that I am an ardent supporter of a free press. If I were not, being as incensed and livid at what passes for a “press” in this country as I am right now, I would probably be calling for their regulation to ensure that they actually cover things that are really news in their so called newscasts. As many of you know, although many of you may not care, Sunday is the NFL Championship. This event is either referred to as the Super Bowl (if you do not fear that the NFL will sue you for daring to use the name) or “The Big Game” (if you do fear that the NFL will sue you for daring to use the name). The contest will pit the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals and is the focus of a great deal of coverage here in my home city of Pittsburgh.
There does however get to be a point where the “news coverage” of the Super Bowl (yes, it is true, I do not fear the NFL), the teams, the players and the events surrounding it become a little absurd and no longer borders on newsworthy. At that point, when coverage of the event trumps legitimate news, is where I get upset with the media and the press. I can understand ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN4 and FOX Sports covering every little thing related to the Super Bowl, including what color cars the fans are driving, in an attempt to fill a twenty-four hour broadcast day because that is what those stations do. Those stations cover sports and they do it wall to wall. I can even understand legitimate coverage of the event during the five or ten minute segment normally dedicated to sports during the local news. This week we have, I believe, officially reached the tipping point with our local Pittsburgh news.
Why? Remember the Mean Joe Green Coke ad from 1979? You know the one where the kid gives Mean Joe a Coke as he is hobbling off the field and he then reciprocates by tossing the kid his jersey as a souvenir? Well, the ad is back, but this time with Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and the Pittsburgh media was all over it like flies on poop, white on rice, Bill Clinton on an intern, Gov. Blagoyovich on a Senate appointment, Teddy Kennedy on a bottle of Chivas Regal, Barack Obama on tax hikes for the rich and Rep. Murtha on our troops for being murderers all in one fail swoop.
The hype over a mere ad from Coca-Cola was used on Monday and Tuesday to get viewers to tune in as promos for the discussion of it were run prior to the local newscasts to persuade people to tune in. They were also run during the broadcasts to make sure you remembered why you tuned in to the local news in the first place even though the coverage was buried way behind the lead story that would not have sold as much soap and therefore was not enough of a reason to tune in I guess. By Tuesday morning, after hearing once again more promos touting the new Coke ad with Troy Polamalu and the sneak peak that the news and Coca-Cola was graciously giving us, I had had enough of the mindless pandering and Coliseum like mentality that was being used to distract from real issues that needed coverage. All I needed at that point was a window out of which to yell, “I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Luckily for my neighbors I was not near a window.
I like sports. I love the Steelers. I even think that Troy Polamalu seems like a swell enough guy. Even though Dan Rooney is a loon who has fallen in love with the Messiah, Barack Obama, now resting at the right hand of God, I am not holding that against the team. But a new Coke ad is not news, much less news that warrants two full days of coverage even in Pittsburgh. It does not even come close to being classified as such.
Ok, perhaps I might be willing to concede that it is “news” the day after Barack Obama leads us all to the promised land and our every want and need is fulfilled and the rivers each run freely with three kinds of chocolate, when gumdrops grow from the trees and when those lovable, free-range marshmallow peeps live a life free of fear from hungry little children with ravenous sweet teeth craving their soft, puffy innards. Maybe, on that day, after all other problems have been solved, it might be news. Maybe, that is, if we can hope that someone will not claim to be a victim of discrimination because the gumdrop trees are not producing enough of their favorite flavor. But that is ok! Because President Obama will magically make the correct flavor appear in quantities sufficient enough to satisfy the discontented with a wave of his hand. You know he will. And even if he does not, his followers will still give him credit for doing it.
But since that day has not happened, a full day plus of “coverage” of this “news” is a bit much. Especially considering that it is a commercial. Are there not more serious things that we should be covering other than giving Coca-Cola some free publicity when they could just buy air time to hype their own commercial? And yes, I know that I am also giving them publicity too by discussing this. But unlike the mindless newscasts I actually have a point in about it whereas they are just looking to pander to swooning Steelers fans and fill up space because hard news would be too hard to cover.
What would happen if, say, that sixty second segment discussing the oh so important implications of the new Coke ad were replaced by a serious discussion of all the unconstitutional pork in the so called “stimulus” bill currently being fawned over by politicians in Washington looking to buy votes? It is just a thought you know.
What we have here is a prime example of a phenomena I have talked about before and where, much like in the Roman Empire, the populace was distracted with lavish displays of competition that were made the focal point of everyday life. They would fill the Coliseum with subjects to watch sport and distract them from caring about politics. Today, more people in Pittsburgh could tell you that Troy Polamalu is the star of a new Coke ad and could name the starting defensive line-up of the Steelers defense than they could tell you who Gov. Blagojevich is much less that he is just the latest in a long line of corrupt Illinois Governors. They could name Ben Roethlisberger’s stats more quickly than who President Obama’s Treasury Secretary is and that he has not been able to figure out the tax code himself but will be in charge of making sure you do. They could tell you that James Harrison won defensive player of the year honors but not know that one of President Obama’s most pressing matters, that just needed to be solved upon entering office, was to make sure that the U.S. taxpayer funds the murder of unborn children in every country around the world. They could certainly tell you that Ken Whisenhunt is a former Steelers coach now leading the Cardinals but probably not that politicians in Washington are feverishly trying to find a way to get ACORN millions of taxpayer dollars as political payback for their activities in the past election. And they could even give you their learned prediction on the final score more readily than discuss the hypocrisy of how Democrats who constantly referred to President Bush as a failure at everything he did for eight years are now complaining that Rush Limbaugh dared to say that he hopes Obama fails at implementing the biggest socialist agenda in American history.
So get your seat in the Coliseum and mindlessly watch the sport if you want and turn on the nightly non-news. Meanwhile those of us with a clue will be out here trying to put out the fires that are slowly destroying this nation from within.