(Who the hell is Taylor Swift? Yeah, I had to look it up. I’m old. Here’s a video so you don’t have to waste your time surfing MTV or sites that swear they have real porn shots of her. You’re welcome.)
Thank God for the 8,356,232,346,233 video sites, news sites,
blogs, newspapers, magazines and other media outlets that breathlessly covered
the Kanye/Taylor Swift beef that stole the show at the VMAs this week. Had it
not been for these fine pinnacles of journalistic integrity, I’d have never
been able to fully understand what it must have been like for a cookie-cutter country/western
star to be upstaged by a self-absorbed rapper at an award ceremony that I
didn’t even know was still happening.
However, the minute my Twitter mobile went off in the middle
of the Packer game with “OMG! Kanye DISSED TSwift @VMAs!” I knew it was going
to be a long week of trying to justify my profession to other people. Had it not been for the deaths of
Patrick Swayze andMary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary (Anybody put in their bet for the parlay in
the St. Peter’s Trifecta?), this might have been the centerpiece on CNN for at
least 10 days.
In other equally beefy news, Romenesko flagged a piece by
the NYT standards editor in which he noted that it’s not news when Rush or
O’Reilly decide to beef with the Times. If there’s an error, the paper corrects
it and moves on. Simple as that. Of course, it’s not that simple, because
O’Reilly and Rush never really care if there are corrections or not. The more
they rail against the Times, the Post or the Beaver County Tidbit, the more
they are “stirring the pot” and keeping their greasy little faces in front of
the world. It’s all about the beef.
Usually, a beef starts, continues and ends in front of the
camera. The faux pas is filmed and then replayed, re-cut and replayed some
more. Immediately, the media dispatch droves of people to get “the other side”
from the aggrieved party.Or, on some of the “better” news outlets, they’ve got
a stable of talking heads and experts to do the commenting for them.
Eventually, the person in error goes on
Leno/Letterman/Conan/Kimmel/Ferguson/Daly or New Hampshire public access and
cries about it. A bunch of idiots then react to it withtheir own personal “YouTube” videosthat make it impossible to find the original video. Then, after all this shame, a public apology comes out and the all-knowing anchors declare that our long national nightmare
I understand why this happens. Conflict is one of the
primary elements of news value. So is prominence. Add in audience and
timeliness and you’ve got four of the big seven. Wars are complicated, politics
are filled with wrangling and the law takes a special breed of twitchy to
understand, but a good beef? Hey, that’s got all of the makings of Christmas
morning for news people.
However, from an early age, we are taught that easy isn’t
always best. We’re also taught that we need to lay off the junk food, lest we
grow fat and lazy. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, the media of all
stripes have fallen into a pattern of rolling through the drive thru of news.
Beef might not be good for us, but it has become a staple of
what we’re being served.
Maybe it’s time to go on a diet.