Mr. T and Gaza

There can be little doubt that on television, the most important time of day for news and information is early morning. That's one reason why there's so much speculation that ABC's Charlie Gibson is more valuable to the network on "Good Morning America" than as a potential 6:30 p.m. successor to the late Peter Jennings. USA Today story on anchor succession strategies

Having said that, the networks' morning "news" shows are such a frustrating mishmash of headlines, info-tainment and corporate synergy that I long ago gave up watching "Today" in favor of CNN's "American Morning." (That program is certainly not perfect. But the recent changes in which former Boston TV newsman Miles O'Brien replaced Bill Hemmer and the wisecracking Jack Cafferty was moved to the afternoon show with Wolf Blitzer have sobered things up a bit).

This morning, eager for any new developments in the dramatic Israeli deadline-day evacuation of Gaza, I was forced over to the Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" because my Comcast cable was on the fritz and allowing me to view only a handful of channels. Fox & Friends

When I turned to the "Fair & Balanced" nework, I struck paydirt with a riveting live report from inside the home of a family of settlers in the process of being evicted. While Israeli soldiers listened impassively, this group of distraught settlers mourned, cried, argued, held hands and chanted prayers. (Whatever your position on the Gaza pullout, it was intense human drama that -- for the moment -- superseded politics and took viewers deep inside a big geopolitical story.)

So what does "Fox & Friends" cut to a few minutes after that poignant coverage? A ridiculous segment in which an aging Mr. T, essentially dressed in an American flag, stood outside Fox's New York studio giggling and handing out free socks to a swelling street crowd. (Mr. T seems to have lost considerable muscle mass and some gray matter as well in recent years.) Review Mr. T's illustrious career here

It was the silliest kind of fluffy morning show huckersterism imaginable. And coming on the heels of the incredible scene in Gaza, it may explain why this nation's attention span for global news that does not directly involve dead Americans seems to be at an all-time low.
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