It’s all so saddening and maddening

W.J. Astore

Remember Tass, the state news agency for the former Soviet Union? I was thinking of it as I watched PBS on Friday. Two commentators, David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, respectively with the New York Times and the Washington Post, covered the leading news items of the week. Of course, there was nothing said about the colossal war budget passed by the House ($778 billion, which is actually an undercount); there was nothing said about the continued persecution of Julian Assange by the U.S. government; and indeed there was nothing said about the sham democracy summit overseen by Joe Biden.

The topics covered were Bob Dole’s death and the good old days of compromise in Washington, a general condemnation of Trump and polarization, and some concern about inflation, which was dismissed as evidence of an expanding economy.

PBS used to be a halfway decent news source; now it relies far too heavily on corporate funding and is afraid of losing its government funding as well. So it’s become a state propaganda network, much like Tass was in the USSR.

With respect to the commentators, David Brooks is the reasonable Republican who speaks calmly about achieving incremental change through the system; Jonathan Capehart is the reasonable Democrat who also speaks calmly about pretty much the same; he adds “diversity” in the sense he’s Black and gay, yet his political views vary little from those of Brooks. Mark Shields, the previous voice opposite Brooks, was occasionally somewhat outspoken and even mentioned unions and workers; he’d worked for Senator William Proxmire and had enlisted in the U.S. Marines. I always sensed Shields hadn’t forgotten his roots, but of course he’s now 84 years old and semi-retired.

The previous week, I listened to Capehart as he talked about the Supreme Court and abortion. He seemed most concerned about the potential for a conservative court to overturn the legitimacy of gay marriage. I understand the personal angle, but I was hoping for a stronger statement in favor of a women’s right to choose — to control her own body and her own life.

To be honest, I don’t watch mainstream media reports that often, but when I do, it’s all so saddening and maddening.

Jonathan Capehart (right) speaks to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They both know their roles.

14 thoughts on “It’s all so saddening and maddening

  1. You can always count on Brooks to be “reasonable” in his almost-reactionary conservatism. To his credit, he has unbent a bit in the last few years (not quite as fingernails-on-the-chalkboard as previously), but still, he remains mired in the mid-20th century.

    Incrementalism needs to go the way of the dodo. When one can pick up a newspaper from 50 years ago and read stories/complaints/warnings about the same problems we’re [still] facing today, it’s clear that incrementalism has gotten us nowhere on almost every issue.

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  2. I wonder how many people actually watch the PBS Newshour any longer, or perhaps more pertinent – who do they see as their primary audience? On the latter, I suspect it’s primarily for members of the political class, to enable them to tell themselves it’s not so bad out there.

    On the former, the rise and fall of “liberal” media seems inverse to the party in power, i.e., falling when the Democrats take over, and rising when the Republicans are in charge. The MSM, excepting FOX, functions as a security blanket.

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  3. Terminal bullshit is the failing social extortion that was expected to cause collective coercion. Thankfully, there are enough people asking questions and the first American tradition isn’t dead.

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  4. Thank you for helping me understand why I no longer watch the PBS news hour. It wasn’t really a conscious decision. Have you found a good alternative?


    1. I follow a lot of alternative media. Some writers I routinely read, in no particular order: Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Chris Hedges, Caitlin Johnstone, and anyone at

      The Guardian in Britain is also very good on U.S. news (better than U.S. networks for sure).

      I still check daily summaries from the New York Times, CNN, NBC, and similar mainstream sites.

      Though he’s polemical and vulgar, which doesn’t bother me, Jimmy Dore is good to watch for alternative perspectives.

      There are many other alternative sites worth reading, including, Common Dreams, Scheerpost, Counterpunch, Consortium News, and many others.

      For magazines, I get The Nation as well as The New Republic. The Baffler has long and interesting articles. The Sun is excellent for short stories, poetry, and interviews.

      Hope this helps!

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      1. I’m dismayed by the Guardian. It’s going too far into the “Life and Style” fluff that newspapers have been prone to do for years in search of readers. I just don’t care about celebrities, the peculiarities of sex life and what are the top 50 movies of the last 50 years, etc. I’m letting my subscription expire at the end of the year.


  5. TECH ITEM: Is anyone else having trouble using the “likes” feature here? I cannot get a like to register and I’ve tried using Chrome and MS Edge with no luck. It used to work for me. I’m not using any script blocker.


  6. Ah, yes. PBS (Pathetic Brown-nosing Sycophants). Tom Friedman, David Brooks, and the usual claque of ingratiating courtiers. So now they’ve got an uncloseted gay black guy paired up with the suspiciously imitative white Jewish one. To wit:

    “… every time I brush against [President George W.] Bush I’m reminded that this guy is different. … A leader’s first job is to project authority, and George Bush certainly does that. … Bush swallowed up the room, crouching forward to energetically make a point or spreading his arms wide to illustrate the scope of his ideas – always projecting confidence and intensity.” — David Brooks, New York Times Sept. 14, 2006.


    “This president has just learned to move in a way that inspires confidence!” — David Broder (of the Washington Post) upon witnessing President George W. Bush’s juvenile “Mission Accomplished” flight-suit dance upon the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in early 2003

    Hence: Boobie Preternatural Semi-Eroticism


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