Sunday, January 4, 2015
[Photograph Alice Munro: Andrew Testa/Rex Features]
Living out in the NC boonies as we do, a few years back we decided to buy the Dish Network service so's we could live like the city folks do, watch some of the hit movies and as many of the great TCM presentations as we could fit into our busy daily schedule, use the DVR feature of our Dish Box to save even more stuff for later viewing, catch a lot of NASCAR and UNC basketball and "ladies" softball. And although we'd at first been unable to see any local TV via the sat because we were in some sort of never never shadow between the Triangle and the Piedmont Triad spheres of influence, last year or the year before we suddenly did manage to start receiving all the Raleigh broadcast stations. At that point I took down the translator box duct-taped to the tv that allowed us to see the fancy-dancy digital signals being broadcast from the Triangle, a signal that was frequently disrupted on its travel to our antenna by rain, snow, wind, and or wavy tree limbs, because we were, like it or not, at the place where those two circumferences of Triangle and Triad briefly intersected. Now the only thing stopping the signals was heavy snow on the dish mounted out in the field below the house.
So then lately our Raleigh CBS and Fox Affiliate, Capitol Broadcasting, has chosen to leverage the NFL playoffs just commenced into more money from the Dish company. This coincides not uncoincidentally with the choice of Fox News to try the same tactic at the same moment. Thus, as we tiptoe into the new year, we are not able to view the NFL playoffs aired by either CBS or Fox. Balancing this more than sleight exasperation is the fact that we can no longer go over to the Fox News channels to see, even for a very few seconds, what garbage Mr. O'Reilly, Mr. Hannity, Ms. Kelly, et al., are at that moment spewing out to confuse a gullible public.
Ah well. TCM is back on. The Carolina Panthers won their game yesterday on ESPN, and will wait for a whole week to be summarily slaughtered by either Seattle or Green Bay on the blacked out Fox Sports Network. What this on-going negotiation amongst the titans of industry should show us, since it is actually significantly news relevant to all our lives, is just how little Fox and Capitol really cares for its supposed clients, the public. Capitol has put up a gloriously ridiculous apologia so lawyerly crafted that one is not even allowed to cut and pasts a quote. Here's the link:
It's tough to avoid the obvious fact, that the Dish company isn't in the position of banning anyone--that Fox and Capitol control their content, and can allow Dish to run it or not. Thus, Fox and Capitol actually are fine with using their own hopefully decreasingly loyal viewers as pawns in a money grab. Miss the playoffs Archie? Well go buy an antenna. Miss hearing your usual suspects bashed every evening? Too bad. Listen to Rush more. But if you want to know what's going on, don't expect WRAL to tell you straight. Some local news they don't touch with a ten foot pole. The link is posted on the WRAL website. That's the deal.
I'll admit, it's actually consistent. This is what conservatives do, and what they care about. It's kinda pitiful that our own very local Capitol Broadcasting is getting wagged by the Murdoch. I went to high school with Capitol's President, Jim Goodmon. He's a nice guy. We elected him our class president for some reason, back in 1960, and it wouldn't be fair to hold him responsible for the rise to power of Jesse Helms, who was a pundit on Capitol's flagship station, WRAL, before he became a Senator and the very model for the Tea Party mooks who are auguring in our Federal Government. Back then Jim's parents and gramps were making the business decisions over there on Western Blvd, and Helms was riding his racist rocket two years after we all graduated, in '61--attacking everyone in sight who might sympathize with Martin Luther King, Jr. Jim's taken care of the company and tended its remarkable growth. That was his job. A lot of other folks have and had jobs because he did what his family wanted him to do with his life, which isn't to say that he didn't intend to do what he wanted to do every step of the way. My guess is the Murdoch empire has him by the balls for complex business reasons. The Durham Bulls play at Goodmon Field, fer gawd's sake. Give him a pass.
So let's enjoy the silence. The TV voices of the hard right are gagged by their handlers' overriding lust for even more money. For the Right, that trumps policy or principle every time. If we have to miss a few football games, or even Daytona, maybe we'll get to see some baby owls instead of a late winter afternoon, or a hawk catching a mouse at the edge of the wood, or the first green shoots of yet another spring. The best news I've seen in the new year, so far, is Alice Munro's most recent book of stories, "Dear Life." Read that and forget the whatever is it of the moment. You won't miss nothing much, and you might even come to appreciate Mr. Goodmon's sacrifices, obscured as they are by his triumphs.
An interview with Alice Munro:
Note: If you care to click around Alice Munro and her Nobel Prize Triumph of 2013, you will likely find Mr. Brett Eston Ellis's sneering dismissal of not only Mrs. Munro's work, but even of the honor she has been awarded. Ellis didn't even have the courage of his rather transparent misunderstandings, back-pedaling his arch dismissals once he discovered that almost no one agreed with him. "I'll have to try reading her again," he said. It didn't surprise me that Ellis was left sitting on the ice, like Ms. Munro's failed-triple-axel metaphor. After all, Ellis owns his own success, such as it is. American Psycho is surely the best existing argument for censorship, and it's even been made into a bad movie. Hopefully he'll never get the Nobel for pornographic violence.