They call this news?

It’s not even entertainment.

I don’t watch much broadcast or cable news–just Olbermann occasionally and Rachel Maddow more regularly. There’s something about Maddow’s mix of substantive analysis and wonky interviews with periodic geekiness and occasional downright silliness that works for me.

But all the promo ads MSNBC ran this week were almost enough to make me abandon Rachel. MSNBC’s ecstasy over the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is a prime example of why people quit watching television news and why so many avoid political coverage. Not only is the network offering two hours covering the dinner tonight, they’re broadcasting a special Sunday edition of Morning Joe to rehash it all.

I can’t fathom the idea of watching it in the first place, let alone wallowing in “highlights” the next morning. I suppose it’s sort of like fantasy baseball camp for reporters, except that they get to pretend they’re comics instead of ball players while they hang out with and timidly attempt to make fun of the famous and powerful they so value their access to. Lots of fun for the participants, but at least the baseball fantasists don’t expect the general public to watch their amateur efforts. After Stephen Colbert’s tour de force in 2006, the Correspondents even muzzled their professional participants, so there’s not even a faint whiff of substance or satire to redeem the event.

Ah, well, it’s not as though the dinner coverage will preempt any real journalism—that’s not something you see that much of on TV anymore (especially now that Bill Moyers has retired).

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