- Last Updated: 2:25 AM, July 15, 2012
- Posted: 10:55 PM, July 14, 2012
Monkeys see, monkeys do. To think that we once sent perfectly good chimpanzees into space when local TV news departments are now loaded with and led by equally qualified humans.
Local TV newscasts, and we mean all of them and on every channel, have now become so illogically, hysterically and sometimes even dishonestly reliant on local weather stories that they’re like tube socks: One news director fits all.
On TV, there is no idea that’s so bad, so absurd, that it’s unworthy of duplication. And that’s where TV news in the Media Capital of the World is stuck — and has stuck us.
Last week’s news endlessly included “Team Coverage” of hot weather. In July.
Hot weather in July led the newscasts, predominated them, inspired anchors and reporters to provide tips on how to deal with hot weather. In July. One tip was to “drink plenty of fluids.” Too late for those inclined to drink solids.
Run for your lives! Except for when it’s in the 90s; then you should just walk briskly.
Team Coverage of hot weather in July included remote reports from throughout the region.
“It’s very hot here.”
“It’s very hot here, too.”
“Same here, although if I stand over here, in the shade, it’s not quite as hot.”
It’s a Jackie Mason bit presented as serious, compelling news. But this is what intelligent New Yorkers, those once most inclined to watch newscasts, must suffer as the locals battle for the recidivist attention of morons.
It wasn’t always like this. Not too many years ago, hot weather in July and cold weather in January — sometimes accompanied by snow — were treated as common, seasonal occurrences. Imagine that.
There was a reasonable expectation that people who watched the news didn’t need to be told to “bundle up” in winter and prepare to sweat in the summer. There was a reasonable expectation that the news would mostly focus on aggressively pursued and/or intelligently reported, well, news.
Now? Ix-nay. Now a cameraman holding a TV camera sits in the front seat of a car while the reporter/driver from “Mobile Unit 2” which then hunts for icy roads. The reporter/driver intermittently turns to that camera — taking his/her eyes off the road — and warns that ice creates excessively dangerous driving conditions.
Today, showing the flooded street isn’t enough; the reporter stands in the water while reporting the self-evident.
Snow expected? Quick! Send a crew to Home Depot; find someone buying a snow shovel! We’ll put it up top; that serial rapist thing can wait!
“Well, they’re calling for snow, so me and the Mrs. figured it was a good time to get a new shovel, so here we are. This is it. [Close-up of the shovel] It’s a peach, ain’t it?”
“Reporting live from Ronkonkoma, this is Stan Slattery. Now over to Sheila Stephens, awaiting the snow in Queens Village.”
Team coverage of hot weather. In July. Heck, yeah. It’s not as if it’s a one-person job.
* * *
If I weren’t a fan of the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” and its carnivorous star, Adam Richman, I wouldn’t have been watching.
But do Richman and the show’s producers and editors have no sense of the most revolting crimes of the mid-20th century?
A recent episode in which Richman, at a sweet shop in St. Louis, tried to swallow five large milkshakes, included his “clever” description: “It was like the Bataan Death March of ice cream.”
The 1942 Bataan Death March saw 76,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war marched 80 miles — with thousands murdered along the way — to an internment camp in the Philippines, where thousands more were slowly murdered by the grotesquely inhumane treatment of their Japanese captors.
That such a crack remained in a taped show . . . ugh.