Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

ABC Drops A Dirty Bomb On 24

Nuclear blast on TV's "24" creates fallout for Fox!
Critics ask whether the show is feeding terror fears!

OK, I put in the exclamation points, but other than that, those are the exact headlines above ABC reporter Susan Donaldson James' huff-n-puff against 24's decision to nuke Valencia, CA last night. (Fictionally, we lost one of our best clients in the blast. Fictionally, we feel terrible.)

But who exactly are these critics?

Well, it turns out there are two. One, David Bianculli, television critic for the New York Daily News, thinks James is full of hooey and doesn't really offer her the quote she's looking for:
"It's the closest television comes to roller coasters. It works well dramatically, and as far as feeding fears, that's what '24' is all about."
That won't get her preconceived notion published, so she goes where reporters always go for a quote that's far out the mainstream: Academia.

There she finds Sut Jhally of U Mass/Amherst, self-proclaimed as "one of the most popular teachers at the University of Massachusetts and ... nationally known among college students," as if that held academic weight. More appropos to this story though, is his authorship of a little book and film (with the nefariously anti-American Howard Zinn) that goes by the name, Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire.

Seeing that credit, James no doubt lit up, and she was not disappionted:
Sut Jhally, co-producer and co-director of the film "Hijacking Catastrophe," [note how she leaves out the film's sub-title] says the dramatic action in the show creates a dangerous climate in which the public loses some of its perspective on what's real and what's not. Of course that may be a minority opinion given the show's enormous popularity. ...

"This television show is very political, and it's no accident that it's on Fox," said Jhally, who directs the Media and Education Foundation and is professor of communications at University of Massachusetts. "Given their propaganda system, it doesn't surprise me."
No wonder Jhally is popular among journalists and naieve, misguided, easily misled college students who, unlike most of the public, really do have a problem with losing perspective on what's real and what's not.

As for what's real, the last time I checked, raging mobs of Fox-watchers haven't stormed any mosques and all the 7-11s from sea to shining sea are still intact.

Too bad for James. She probably is itching to cover that non-existent story, just as she covered this non-existent story.

By the way, ABC readers aren't too hot about James' analysis either, according to the network's own poll. Asked if they thought 24 went too far, 7,232 said no, 1,870 said yes.

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