Drop Everything, or Not?

Some commentators are upset that the “major” broadcast networks didn’t cancel regular programming last night to cover the President’s speech on immigration issues.

Here’s one example.

It might have been a Presidential speech, and it may have excited political operatives across the political spectrum, but it was it urgent news? We knew it was coming. We had a good idea, from vague leaks, what he would say. We had heard all sort of bluster from the dysfunctional opposition about how they’d react if he did this, or that, or that other thing. And almost anyone in America with a smart phone or a home Internet connection could find a dozen sources easily that would broadcast the speech or provide commentary on it as it happened.

Some Presidential speeches, typically about breaking events, are Major News. Thirty years ago, before there were several around-the-clock cable news channels and before worldwide computer networks were ubiquitous, there were more reasons for the four or five broadcast networks to interrupt their schedules so their audiences could near major news as quickly as possible. This might be major news to a lot of people, but I’m not sure it was major news to a majority of people. For those who regard it as major news, they had more than a day ahead of time to figure out how they wanted to hear the speech or hear about it.

So, yes, I’m glad I could have listened to the speech on NPR, and I presume I could have watched the speech on MSNBC or CNN or watched the live blood-letting on Faux News if that was my preference, but I’m also glad CBS didn’t cancel or postpone The Big Bang Theory. Call me a shallow beneficiary of white male Christian privilege, but it simply wasn’t a big issue for me, even as someone who generally supports liberal issues.

Pick your battles, people.


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