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Donna Doyle

Donna Doyle, a retired "civil slave," is a freelance writer in Northeast Florida. According to Don, her long-suffering husband, "I'm so glad she's giving someone else hell for a change, instead of me."

Donna Doyle Archives

    Hype, Hyperbole and Innuendo
    by Donna Doyle

    January 1, 2003

    At least I got through most of the holidays before it hit. The "it" is a stomach bug that my husband and son have been trading back and forth. Generous souls that they are, they've now shared it with me.

    When not in the bathroom paying homage to the porcelain goddess, I've been lying on the living room couch watching television. Well, not really watching. Just listening to CNN's constant drone, which is perhaps a perfect accompaniment to my constant gagging. Or, maybe another one of the causes for it.

    A Canadian acquaintance commented recently that some of her countrymen watching CNN's Crossfire believe that it reflects the true quality of news gathering and political debate in the United States.

    I quickly replied that it's an entertainment program only. Not sure if she would have known the reference, I did not add that Crossfire reminds me of The Jerry Springer Show. I haven't watched Springer often, but the few times I have made the similarities impossible to ignore.

    The Jerry Springer Show and Crossfire are both trash broadcasting.

    Springer, of course, admits it. Crossfire isn't as honest. It tries to pretend otherwise.

    Manners don't exist, neither do facts. Honesty? You've got to be kidding. It's hype, hyperbole, and innuendo. The sole purpose of each broadcast is to see who can yell the loudest, longest, and last, interrupting whoever is speaking, shouting everyone else down.

    The only thing heard is spin from whoever has the biggest mouth.

    Each episode of both programs also includes ritualistic, routine bashing: Springer, with chairs; Crossfire, insult and verbal abuse.

    Springer's "guests" are often introduced to the viewing public when someone points a finger calling him (or her) a "dirty dog." The "dirty dog" then yells back or storms on stage to take a swing or two at someone. "Big Guys" then step in to break up the fake fight, and Jerry gives another lecture on the need for mutual respect. Or some such.

    On Crossfire the fake fights have not taken on a physical aspect... yet. The attacks (so far, anyway) have remained only verbal ("You're dumber than dirt, you dog!") although it wouldn't surprised me to see a chair or two flying through the air if the program's ratings need a boost.

    CNN's reach is global. Not making it clear to viewers -- especially those in other countries -- that Crossfire is only entertainment, does disservice not only to the network's own image as a news-gathering organization, but to the reputation of U.S. reporting as a whole.

    One way for CNN to quickly correct the mistaken impression that Crossfire is something more than entertainment, like professional wrestling did years ago, is to simply admit it. Then, add a third permanent seat between the two - "The Left" and "The Right" - already there, so that Jerry Springer or someone similar can break in as needed, with a soliloquy on the need for respect or manners or... some such.

    But what better commentary is there about Crossfire's quality than that already provided by James ("The Ragin' Cajin," "Corporal Cueball") Carville, one of the program's own hosts, who sat wearing a trash can he, in front of the cameras, had put over his own head.

    © 2002 Tocqevillian Magazine