Friday, October 31, 2008

Dan Rather Actually Lets Guests Speak

In the ad for Dan Rather Reports, he lists the major selling point of his program: he lets his guests finish sentences.

The nerve.

Who will protect us from the experts?

We common folk need help to understand complex ideas. It is the correspondent's job to help us filter the statements of experts into simpler ideas, often by shouting over any nuanced points the guest is trying to make.

Correspondents level the playing field. If we saw smart people talking on TV uninterrupted, since they are smart, we might be fooled into thinking they are right. Not so. The correspondent helps us realize this by cherry picking arguments and cutting off a mic whenever a guest becomes dangerously persuasive.

Without the bullying correspondent, we would all suddenly have to make our own straw men out of the opinions of others. Faced with such a task, we'd probably all just abandon thinking forever.

I'm sticking MSNBC and FOX at full volume on opposite sides of the room for my election night coverage. The louder correspondent wins my attention. It will be a triumph of democracy if I wake on Wednesday with tinnitus.