The only thing missing from yesterday's Sunday talk show openings was the Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton singing the duet of, "Baby It's Cold Outside." It's actually quite a good rendition. You can see it here.
But are these chatfests, Meet the Nation, Face the Nation, This Week, Fox News Sunday, etc. really doing their jobs -- providing a public service? Bringing us unfiltered news? I think not.
Yesterday they all began with a moment about the cold weather, then immediately went into full Chris Christie coverage. What everyone of these shows ignored was this:
The emergency began Thursday following complaints to West Virginia American Water about a licorice-type odor in the tap water. The source: the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, which had leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank at a Freedom Industries facility along the Elk River.
Here it is, Sunday, four days later, and over 300,000 West Virginians were still without clean tap water. They can't drink the contaminated water, can't bath in it, can't cook with it, can't do wash in it, and yet how much coverage did it get on the public service shows? Zilch.
But doesn't this crisis meet national standards? If a spill like this can happen in W.V. it can happen anywhere. Should we be investigating how it happened and seek out safeguards? Evidently not if the victims are in West Virginia.
The network news talkers are treating this less than a throw-away story. If mentioned at all, it's like "Entire neighborhood all paint their houses the same color of grey." What they leave out is that all of these houses were painted in lead-based paint and everyone in the neighborhood is going to die of cancer. If it's not a Republican or Democratic attack, it's not worthy of the Sunday talkers. And that's why these supposed news shows should be embarrassed and reprimanded. They owe everyone an apology for spitting on the urgent and legitimate problems of one of our fifty states. A chemical spill effecting so many IS NEWS.
Now the EPA is constantly coming under attack on Sunday GOP talkers as an example of over-regulation. Republicans use this ruse almost almost as much as the concern over voter fraud in their Red states or the damage same-sex marriage is causing their "normal" marriage. Yet when a disaster strikes, why the crickets? Why not demonstrate what the EPA does? If it wasn't for them, these innocent people, victims of a dangerous chemical spill might be glowing in the dark or have three ears by now.
What's equally startling is that there isn't even an adequate clean-up plan in force to allow such a vast sum of people to be provided with bottled water and food to get them through this crisis time. This Elk River, where the chemicals spilled, runs for hundreds of miles, reaching both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. We're talking potentially half of our nation being affected.
To me that's news. Grumpy Chris Christie playing dumb or lying about his part or knowledge in his bridge-gate scandal is news, and should be covered, but so should the plight of the victims half of our nation. When a hurricane displaces and damages vast swaths of land, the press is all over it. But in old West Virginia, not so much.
Beltway news is noisy, to say the least. But is it urgent or more important than pressing news about half our nation facing a possible poisoning? Hardly.
Maybe next time stations come up for licensing, lets remember that Meet the Press and the other talkers are just paid political content masquerading as public service. Maybe locally qualifying shows should be produced, (improving local economies) and demanded in their place if they're being done to meet the FCC public licensing obligations.