- The Washington Times - Monday, August 29, 2005

Short shots

“Al Gore’s television network Current-TV, which he bought with other investors, is not, as many assumed, a liberal version of Fox News. Nor does it have ‘shows’ in any sense of the word.

“So what is it? Think MTV without the music. Or commercials without a product to sell. …

“Programming on Current-TV consists of ‘pods,’ short documentary features, many of them sent in by viewers. …

“The killer concept: Nothing lasts more than seven minutes.

“Thus, Current-TV gears itself to the alleged short attention spans of today’s young channel surfers. …

“Is this the invention of Al Gore the liberal? Only in the sense that its mentality favors the new, the fashionable, and the bohemian. Young conservatives and Christians should send in their videos, and we’ll see if they get on Current-TV. That will be the test of how nonpartisan and nonideological it really is.”

— Gene Edward Veith, writing on “Floating along,” in the Aug. 27 issue of World

Giant views

“Since TV is a populist medium, it follows that rich and poor viewers alike would dream about upgrading to 72-inch glory. For this reason, the big-screen has become a useful tool in amateur class theorizing.

“That is, the big-screen can symbolize virtually anything you want about any social class. In the case of the middle class, for example, the big-screen is often derided as a risible symbol of overconsumption — another totem to keep up with the Joneses. …

“The working poor also have a tenuous relationship with the big-screen. Conservative critics might see the presence of a big-screen in a dilapidated tract house as a product of misguided spending; for liberals, it could merely represent inchoate class longings.

“In a heartbreaking example that would satisfy both camps, the Los Angeles Times profiled a family of four — total income: $19,000 — who had driven themselves to the brink of insolvency by buying a big-screen TV.”

— Bryan Curtis, writing on “Big-Screen Televisions,” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Popular Pat

“A number of conservatives and Republicans have criticized televangelist Pat Robertson for suggesting that the U.S. government assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. …

“The condemnations made clear that Robertson’s comments had absolutely no support anywhere. But they did not address another question: Just how influential is Robertson in today’s politics? …

“To many on the right, Robertson’s most important role today seems to be as the maker of those crackpot comments, which give liberals the opportunity to hang the offending words — and Robertson himself — around conservatives’ necks.

“There is some truth to that, but there is also some evidence to suggest that Robertson is not quite as marginalized a figure as conservatives would like to believe. His main forum, the television program ‘The 700 Club,’ is available in nearly all of the country. … According to Nielsen Media Research, ‘The 700 Club,’ aired each weekday, has averaged 863,000 viewers in the last year.

“While that is not enough to call it a popular program, it is still a significant audience. It is, for example, more than the average primetime audience for CNN last month — 713,000 viewers — or MSNBC, which averaged 280,000 viewers in prime time. It is also greater than the viewership of CNBC and Headline News.”

— Byron York, writing on “Does Pat Robertson Matter?” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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