In my four decades as a broadcaster, there have been a few times when a guest or a caller has said something insane on my show. I try not to let them get away with it. I always make it a point to challenge them, to insist they provide evidence of their claims (just as I do), rather than ignoring it and allowing them to spew nonsense.
Most of the time, that works out fine and we can continue, but occasionally, the guest is so far off the deep end, and unwilling to accept reality, that I terminate the discussion prematurely. Then I spend a minute or two pointing out to my audience how blatantly wrong they were, and assure them that guest or caller will not be welcome on my show again — and I stand by it.
The cable news networks don’t work that way, and neither does much of talk radio, because they have a different standard, summarized in three simple words: We Want Crazy. How else can you explain:
- the repeated opportunities for Trump spokespeople like Katrina Pierson and Jeffrey Lord to spray ignorance all over the place and still be invited back to do it again?
- that Al Sharpton and Oliver North, two nitwits whose lying and deception were uncovered decades ago, are still given a televised platform and treated like knowledgeable human beings?
- Bill Kristol still being considered a pundit and regular contributor to a news show when almost every prediction he’s ever made has turned out to be wrong?
- guests who claim to be psychic or any of the other paranormal nonsense spewed on George Noory’s program?
Where’s the accountability? Where’s the value of truth-telling? Where’s the pride in what you’re presenting to the audience? Where’s the dump button?
Somewhere, Paddy Chayefsky’s corpse is face-palming in disbelief.