I have been watching the “Today” show for a good thirty years. I’ve been through dozens of co-hosts and countless funky weathermen. Unfortunately, in the last few years I’ve watched “Today” morph from a true news show to a morning version of “Entertainment Tonight.” And I’m tired of it. So, Matt and Meredith and Al, if you are listening, I need to tell you that I’m gone.
The tipping point came yesterday morning. Waiting for my coffee to brew, buttering my toast, I switched on the TV to Channel Four and heard that familiar opening theme. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that starts with the three heavy notes. I can’t convey that sound in writing, but if you take a second you’ll hear it. Then, after this dramatic intro, you hear the somber voice of Matt Lauer.
“Soaker,” he announces.
Huh? Did he say “soaker?” What the frig does “soaker” mean?
I glance at the television and see a quick shot of a street and it looks like it is raining. I am puzzled.
He then gives us the next one word verbal “headline,” which I will get to in a minute.
After this titillating intro, Matt proceeds to give us a little more information on that FIRST story on this NATIONAL television broadcast that is being watched my MILLIONS of Americans. I have to assume it’s something significant. I am on the edge of my seat.
He proceeds to tell us that it is raining pretty hard in Florida. Yep, that’s it. The first story of the day is that it is raining heavily somewhere in the state of Florida. People are getting – you guessed it – soaked. What the heck? Is that it? Are you kidding me?
Then, for a live, action-filled report on this breaking story, the camera cuts to some dweeb who is standing in the middle of this “soaker” wearing the obligatory heavy rain gear. His hood is over his head but, honestly, I don’t see any rain falling on him. Now, mind you, he is not talking about a hurricane. No one has mentioned the word “tropical storm.” Heck, he hasn’t even used the word “tropical depression.” No, it was just a lot of rain. It was a “soaker.”
They cut to a street where you can see some water backing up. I also see cars flying back and forth, zipping right through the puddles. Meanwhile, this brave reporter, who wants us to think he is risking his life for us, is using the obligatory buzzwords to keep our attention. “I will add, Matt, that there have been no DEATHS or no SERIOUS INJURIES due to this STORM. “
This was the first story of the day. This was the hard news that the producers of “Today” thought I just had to know. Then there was the second most important story of the day.
It seems that there was some beauty contest in Australia or New Zealand or one of those semi-English speaking countries. After hours of inane interviews and silly talent displays, the field was pared down to two young girls. The emcee, a woman, took out the card with the winner’s name on it and, in true Ryan Seacrest form, milked the announcement for several minutes. The tension was palpable. Finally, she declares the winner and the place goes nuts. The new Miss Marsupial is screaming her lungs out, jumping all over the place. The runner-up gives her the obligatory hug while no doubt cursing her under her breath.
But, wait a minute! The emcee is yelling something over the din. She is screaming “I made a mistake, I made a mistake!” Well, it seems that she screwed it up and named the wrong person. So, she had to suck it up, stop the premature celebration and announce, practically in tears, that the original winner was really the runner up.
A funny story, if you ask me. Maybe a little sad as well.
But my point is was this really the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT
NATIONAL story of the day? I mean, c’mon folks, do I really need to know about this screw up? Didn’t anything happen somewhere in the rest of the entire world that qualified as real news? We’re in a war for God’s sakes, didn’t we win some skirmish somewhere or capture some terrorist? Didn’t some city or state pass some controversial new law? Believe me, Matt, I can take the hard news if you got it.
But the more I think about it, maybe the “Today” show and other “news” shows are just giving the public want they want. Maybe most folks don’t want to hear about some boring debate in the U.S. Congress, even if it is about a bill that would reduce carbon emissions and possibly stave off the DESTRUCTION OF OUR PLANET. Maybe people just don’t want to be too serious and they’re just looking for fluff. In some ways I guess can’t blame them. But, for me, I must say adios Matt.