I am hopelessly addicted to 24-hour news. I know, I know, I’ve written about this before in a previous blog, but it’s an addiction, what do you expect? It’s all I want to talk about.
A year ago I didn’t even know who Keith Olbermann was. Now I want to sit down with him at my kitchen table, make him some tea, defrost some cheesecake for him, and talk to him all afternoon. Rachel Maddow, again, didn’t know her and now I’d consider switching teams if that’s what it would take to get her to come over to my house.
Wolf Blitzer, Lou Dobbs, Anderson Cooper, Campbell Brown, David Gregory, Norah O’Donnell, Chuck Todd – these guys were just a motley crew of talking heads before the presidential election coverage began. Today I want to bake them all cookies. I have actual opinions about their clothes, their weight (Chuck could lose a few pounds around the middle), their beards, their hairlines and their dental work.
And Chris Matthews? If 24-hour news has replaced Law & Order in my life – and it has, believe me, it has – then Chris Matthews is my new Jack McCoy. He’s got that I’m-quirky-and-cranky-but-I’ve-earned-it thing down. I love how he beats a dead horse right into the ground when he gets on something that he thinks is clever. I love how he spits when he talks. But most of all I love him because I’m convinced he’s one of my cousins who was switched at birth. He reminds me so much of my Pittsburgh Lueke cousins, partly because of his Philadelphia accent, which is just like their Pittsburgh accents, partly because he looks a little bit like my cousins, and partly because he’s just a nice guy who I could picture at my family reunion, playing corn hole, eating potato salad and looking at photo albums with Aunt Betty.
Before this presidential election, I hated TV news. No offense to my fellow journalism grads whose degrees were in broadcast. (Yes, we print journalists openly showed our disdain for you and for that I apologize. You’re the only ones who still have jobs.)
Now, however . . . well, here’s the thing: I get up at 5:30 in the morning, stumble out to the kitchen and while I’m making coffee and packing lunches, I turn on MSNBC and find out what happened while I was sleeping. If nothing is new and they’re just replaying what I watched the night before, that’s fine with me. I’ll rewatch the good stuff over and over again. Who am I kidding? I’ll watch the boring stuff over and over again. If it’s about this presidential race, I’m riveted.
Throughout the day, I’ve got as many as three televisions on throughout the house, so that as I wander around doing housework and putting things away, I can always hear the blather of the pundits. (I’d like it known right now that I’m the same person who didn’t even own a TV from 1981 until 1983, and on and off throughout my parenting years I’ve had no cable households.) Sometimes I have to make a phone call or actually leave the house for some reason and I feel compelled to turn off the TVs. I’ll get up and go stand right in front of the screen, my hand hovering over by the on/off button or my thumb just above the remote button. Sometimes I stay that way until the next commercial. Sometimes it’s longer. Oh snap, I can’t believe I’m revealing this about myself.
I was feeling pretty bad about it until last week when I was talking to my friend John in Cincinnati and he admitted that sometimes he wakes up in the wee small hours of the morning – that time between the middle of the night and dawn, the time when college kids are starting to think about going to bed – and he lays there and says to himself, “I can either try to go back to sleep, or I can get up and put on MSNBC and see what happened since I last watched at midnight.”
That’s what I’m talking about! See? I’m not the only one.
So if you come over and notice that the rooms without TVs have cobwebs, the bedding hasn’t been changed and the room hasn’t had a mom in it since the beginning of the primaries, you’ll know why. I’m planning to make it all better on Nov. 5. That’s the day I go cold turkey and start the rest of my life.
But haven’t I gotten to know these people? Won’t I want to continue to watch them and hear about wildfires in California, kids who’ve fallen down wells, congressmen who have had affairs? I’m thinking probably not. It’ll be back to Jack McCoy and Law & Order for me.