Thursday, April 26, 2007

Give it a rest, Susan

In How Much Abuse Can Katie Couric Take?, Susan Estrich opines that poor Katie Couric is abused and somehow the fact that Katie's a woman is relevant. (Actually, I'm glad to have read this from Susan, because I can't take much of her voice. Katie's voice, on the other hand is quite pleasant.) Somehow the decreasing ratings on the CBS Evening News is pure sexism.

The fact is, Katie took over a failing news program that was already on a death spiral, thanks to the previous anchor, Dan Rather. I suppose, just to be fair, Susan must think all his problems were sexist as well. It's also a fact that most people don't get their news from the "Big Three" networks (ABC, CBS & NBC) for years. For that matter, it's been years since the "Big Three" were the "Big Three". And since she hasn't noticed, there's absolutely no shortage of female newscasters and anchors on the cable networks. Just to check my own suspicions, I asked my 74 year old mother for her take on it:
"The ratings haven't dropped because she's a woman. They've dropped because she changed the format of the whole show. It used to report the news, now it's "feel good commentary". That has nothing to do with her being a woman. When I want to see the news, I want the news, not somebody else's opinion of it. Besides, it's suppertime. You're either in there cooking or you're in there eating. You should turn the television off when you're eating, and spend some time with your family. You can get the news any time."
She's got a point. The CBS Evening News of today is far removed from when Walter Cronkite closed with "and that's the way it is" each night. Cronkite was respected because he gave you the plain unadorned facts, not because he told you what to think of them. Furthermore, her time slot is no longer prime real estate for news. In this day of 24-hour cable news networks, we do not have to wait for our fix from the Evening News. We can get that anytime we want, and save Prime Time for something a bit more entertaining.

Susan writes:
If Katie succeeds, we all win; she will have proven that people are happy to get their news from a smart, pretty woman. And if she fails? How many times will it be said that America just wasn't ready for a woman in such a powerful role? We will all pay that price. You can bet it won't be another woman replacing her.
Bullshit. If she really believes any of that, then Susan's brain must have ossified in the mid 1980s. Anchor of the CBS Evening News is no longer a powerful role. Thanks, Dan. And there's no reason a woman shouldn't replace her... it's not stopping any of the other networks. Paula Zahn's name adorns her prime-time show on CNN, E.D. Hill is the anchor of "Fox News Live". Females are everywhere you look on cable news. Numerous local anchors are female.

Katie Couric isn't the victim of sexism. She's a casualty of a poorly though-out format in an anachronistic time slot on a failing news program that lost its relevance long before she got to it in a market that has shifted far, far away from the broadcast networks. If Dan Rather were still there there would BE NO audience, so it's unfair and quite frankly sexist of Susan Estrich to bemoan Katie's poor ratings as being sex-driven. Katie has much better ratings than most men would have if they were dealt the same shitty hand. She should be given a medal for flattening the death-spiral. If she wants to reverse the trend, she might try just reporting the news for a change. It worked for Walter Cronkite.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dell COMPLETELY Misses the Point

On their blog, Direct2Dell, Dell has announced the following:
Because we wanted to add to this fast-growing community, not just market to it, I'm excited today to announce the expansion of Dell's Plant a Tree for Me program in Second Life. This blog post from Tod Arbogast explains the program in more detail. On our main island in Second Life, we have now ripped out some old industrial-style architecture and replaced it with green park space. There Second Life residents can relax and not only enjoy the scenery, but also take a little bit of it back home with them. Free virtual saplings of the Red Oaks growing there are available for all Second Life residents.
This is in honor of Earth Day. You heard me right. Dell Computer has decided to observe Earth Day by offering imaginary trees in an imaginary world. I think it's obvious that they just totally miss the point.

As I've said before, the more I look at the human race, the more evidence I find that the genes for intelligence are recessive. Dell proves what the law of averages dictates. Somewhere there's some organization where they're completely absent. Way to go, Dell!