Cable news is a joke. Although I see clips from various cable news shows every now and again, I stopped regularly watching the useless garbage years ago.
While cable news possesses numerous faults, one of my main criticisms sprang to mind after coming across the always-conspiratorial Alex Jones on the inexplicably-existent Piers Morgan Show — that criticism being that most of these pundits treat political, social, and economic issues with sensationalism and oversimplification rather than with the seriousness and in-depth analysis they deserve.
Thus my main gripe with the Jones-Morgan “debate” is that, in my humble opinion, the best way to delve into the issue of gun violence isn’t a showdown between a rotund, Limbaugh-esque blowhard whose rambling points border on the schizophrenic and a self-absorbed, arrogant elitist with the debating ability of a 12-year-old on PCP whose main concerns revolve around his ratings and self-image.
As to why anyone would seriously attempt to engage the loony Alex Jones in a substantive debate remains beyond me. Jones doesn’t debate—he rambles, readily strays off-topic, embellishes, and habitually gets personal with his opponents.
But Jones’ debating tactics (or more accurately, lack thereof) are the least of the story. The somehow popular radio host peddles in the most outlandish of conspiracies. As Morgan pointed out, Jones ascribes to 9/11 “inside job” views. Jones blabbers on about fluoride in drinking water being used as a government mind control plot. He repeats the oft-heard, unsubstantiated internet drivel about Bohemian Grove, the Bilderberg Group, and the New World Order. He even apparently believes in alien visitation and secret genetic manipulations by these ominous visitors.
So all these facts taken into account, is Jones really the best representative for the mainstream pro-gun lobby? I learned just as much about mainstream anti-gun-control arguments from Jones as I would learn from The Turner Diaries about mainstream objections to affirmative action or progressive taxation.
There are two clear motivations for Morgan bringing this nutcase onto his show. Bringing such an outlandish character as Jones onto his program helps to delegitimize the pro-gun position. By associating Jones with those who oppose most gun control legislation, Morgan hopes to pair his conspiratorial views with all those who, coherently or not, support a sacrosanct view on second amendment rights.
The only reason Morgan appears to have invited the craziest of the crazies onto his global platform is to settle a personal score. Jones co-created an online petition to get Morgan deported for his views in support of greater gun regulations. Admittedly, this petition is just ridiculous and ignorant. However, I couldn’t care less about the personal attacks on media figures by ideological whackos who sup up popularity amongst the furthest fringes of the fringe. Rather than waste over 20 minutes of air time in a “debate” akin to a 3rd grader recess brawl, Morgan could’ve addressed Jones’ criticisms in a two minute segment that outlines Jones’ delusional views on the world. Or even better, he could’ve just ignored the nutcase altogether.
But instead we got a substantial waste of airtime — airtime that could’ve been used towards seriously examining the arguments for and against various gun control laws and mental health reforms. Hopefully someday our cable news will evolve beyond immature rivalries, sensationalism, and tangential debates filled with ad hominem attacks. Until then, I guess I’ll continue to quench my philosophical curiosity elsewhere.