October 29, 2020

Gravetard Shift

Gravetard ShiftMany years ago in my first stab at bachelorhood and during my marriage when my wife worked late, I used to enjoy ABC’sWorld News Now. It was what an overnight shift should be: A bunch of people punchy from a screwed-up sleeping schedule getting away with almost whatever they want just because the boss is asleep and no one is paying attention. Early on they would toss in obscure towns and landmarks in their weather scroll, which was pretty bold for 1993 on one of the three major networks, and every Friday at 4:00 AM, if you were dozing off you’d be startled wide awake by a bald man on an accordion belting out “The World News Polka” (“It’s late at night/You’re wide awake/And you’re not wearing pants/So grab your World News Now mug/And everybody dance!”). I haven’t watched it in some time, but a few years back their weather report had evolved into featuring “The World Temperature Index” which was an utterly meaningless sum of the temperatures of several dozen selected cities (“Today’s World Temperature Index, 672 degrees for the high and a low of 471.”).

This was as close to anarchy as you could get on a major network news program, and you knew that many of these people, like future CBS Evening News Saturday anchor Thalia Assuras, were smart and funny people just passing through paying their dues on their way to better jobs, but getting the plum opportunity to screw around on a national stage first. They were never disrespectful of the news. They were having fun.

FOX News does their late-night schtick differently. They hire morons.

Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy (don’t make me go there–it’s too easy) are your hosts on Fox And Friends if you’re unfortunate to have insomnia and can’t find the remote.

I don’t leave the TV on on FOX News when I fall asleep on the couch. I did that just once, and being awakened at 3:00 AM to white people yelling at me is a spectacular annoyance. I still had to TiVo a segment of Fox and Friends just to get a better idea why they were so goddamned noisy and not using their inside voices. It didn’t take me long to get edified.

In a segue from a story about whether John McCain has done enough to distance himself from the anti-Obama GOP ad running in North Carolina right now masquerading as a spot for their governor’s race, Gretchen may have well been describing a singing chihuahua as she exulted, “Did you know there’s a food ration across America right now? I’m fascinated by this!”

With this news of a nascent starvation crisis among America’s poor, Steve took the opportunity to effusively expound on his shopping habits. “I DON’T…I don’t buy rice…by the…”

“In bulk?” asked Gretchen.

“No, I don’t buy the…I buy the little boxes. I don’t buy the 20-pound bags,” he said with a chortle. So I don’t care who starves in America, because it doesn’t affect me.

“So, you’re more of a Rice-A-Roni man?” Gretchen asked.

“I’m more of a Condi Rice man!”

“You’re…oooh! Realllllly! Interesting to find that out about you, Doocy! Wow!” But back to our talk about Americans who are going to be denied the opportunity to buy basic foodstuffs.

They invited Jenna Lee from the FOX Business Network on to offer a fresh and tittering analysis on what the ration on America’s rice is going to mean to people like Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy. She explained that there’s a concern about a shortage, so, she says, “you don’t need to go out and bulk up on your big items at this point.”

“Well, how ’bout potatoes?”, Steve shouted with a chuckle. “Potatoes are okay, right?”

They dial it down for a moment to show their concern for America’s Great Unwashed. So, Steve steps in to ask for reassurance, “So, no one’s hungry, right?” No, Steve, only the people who can’t afford to buy enough food. But if they’re lucky enough to be employed right now, they get the occasional donut in the breakroom at Wal-Mart, where they’ll shop at the end of the week when they get their paycheck for their 32-hour “full-time” workweek and can’t afford to shop anywhere else. They get lots of Ramen for their families.

They moved on to a story about the polygamy scandal in Texas. It was apparently a woman named Rosita Swinton who called an Arizona-based crisis center trying to alert authorities to the polygamy nightmare going on inside the Texas cult. “Isn’t she also an Obama delegate?”, Steve asked. “She is.” Chortle. Get it? Because she’s black, and crazy. I think that’s what he’s getting at, at least.

Bear in mind that I was less than six minutes into Fox And Friends when I’d already witnessed this stupidity. This is the kind of blog entry that just writes itself.

Fox And Friends was in the news a few weeks back when their co-host, Brian Kilmeade, who was vacationing this week when I watched (or “vacationing”; I have no idea yet) walked off the set after a disagreement over Barack Obama’s race speech. Kilmeade was trying to explain Obama’s thinking–as a man who is half-white and half-black–in talking about his grandmother as a “typical white person” when she said that some black men frightened her. Gretchen and Steve were asking Kilmeade, “Are you offended by Barack Obama referring to his grandma as a ‘typical white person?’” Kilmeade acknowledged their point and attempted to explain that Obama’s grandma had grown up in the 1930s and Jeremiah Wright had grown up in the 1960s, and they had a different perspective from what the very white Doocy, Carlson, and even himself would have had. They had none of it. “It’s a generational thing, is what he was trying to say,” said Kilmeade.

Doocy piped up, “Yeah, well Brian, what if I said you’re a typical sports guy, would you take offense at that?”

“You proved my point,” Kilmeade said, and walked off the set.

“He needs to lay off the Sanka!!!”, said Doocy.

Even without a “Sanka” reference in 2008, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes of this before your brain starts to hurt. These two people don’t have a full brain between them. FOX could have hired some young up-and-comers who are hungry and unsupervised enough to add a real edge to their late-night show. They’re not a threat, though, because no one is watching. No one was watching World News Now in 1993 either, but it was fun because these were smart people going somewhere. Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson are going onto their next contract negotiation for their current position, and then they’re going to the glue factory when they don’t get renewed.