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number 5

Pipe Up!’s “I’m on Prime Time!”

On the submissions page on the Pipe Up! website, we issued this challenge: You have been granted five minutes of network time during Survivor or whatever the top-rated show is. You have an audience of forty million...what do you say? What do you do? What would you like to see?
Here is a submission from Ed Snible.

I feel that I can speak persuasively, but it’s a false feeling that comes from spending time with like-minded people. Actually trying to get folks to change their views seems beyond my reach. (I can’t even convince my father that justice failed when Microsoft wasn’t punished for faking their video evidence testimony.)

If I were persuasive, I’d talk about the national consensus gap. I find it troubling that liberals and conservatives don’t form coalitions anymore. A newsworthy example of the divide was when federal marshals and the FBI were searching for Texas lawmakers.

It’s not just politicians. It’s individual callers on Hannity who think it’s a virtue to become nauseous when listening to liberal callers. It’s anti-war protesters holding “Bush = Nazi” placards. It’s folks self-identifying as being from the “red states” or the “blue states.”

I appreciate folks with extreme views. What troubles me is that the ideological range, which used to look like a bell curve, feels like it is bowing the other way.

I feel dishonest telling liberals and conservatives to get along. I’m neither, and I don’t want to condescend. On my bad days I feel like ESR and on my good days George Lakoff.

Maybe modern ideological extremism is the obvious result of having more than four TV stations to listen to? I tend to think biased media is good; I’m glad we have both The Nation and The Wall Street Journal. Why does almost no one read both?

So, my five minutes of prime time would be a short version of my imaginary TV game show News Game. News Game is a Jeopardy-like current events game show. Although News Game would be superficial in a Daily Show kind of way, I think it would actually be as informative as some lesser cable shows. By avoiding repetition, single-topicism, and false-dichotomy debates, a lot of ground could be covered. The hidden subversive message in a news quiz show is that questions have final answers, and answering questions doesn’t require spin.


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