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"News" That Frees up Time

A Commentary by Froma Harrop

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Keeping up with the always-spinning news cycle can eat into a media hound's free time. Thus, I'm grateful when cable television plugs its news holes with stories of no consequence. One can safely check out, secure that nothing important has escaped notice.

Recall Donald Trump's pretend quest for the presidency. The news channels examined the magnate's politics, wives, money and fame to the point of imbecility. Just when even cable was feeling the exhaustion, Trump flambeed an especially unappetizing dish of "birther" politics -- no doubt helping in his negotiations with NBC for the next season of "Celebrity Apprentice."

I was fainting with Trump fatigue when CNN's Anderson Cooper came on around noon, promising yet another exclusive interview with The Donald that evening. Hallelujah. That meant CNN could be put to bed for the rest of the day. Tonight it will be me, a glass of wine and one of my favorite Netflix film noirs -- "A Bullet for Joey," if you must know.

A new bike path had opened nearby, so the royal wedding couldn't have happened at a better time. One day, I turn on the usually stimulating MSNBC cable show "Morning Joe," and where are the regulars? They're in London, talking about the royal wedding. Wow, I can attend to the tires. Forget the pomp. Find the pump.

A royal wedding is one of those "news" events that, once over, is so over. Some gossiped about the clothes and the sister for a day or so. But the only place people still jabbered about the wedding a week later was the hairdresser's, and that was an accident of scheduling.

The so-called Rapture was a great time-saver for we who feel obliged to follow real news. The most interesting angle, of course, was what would happen after it didn't happen. But before it didn't happen, big media allotted many hours to interviewing those who thought it would, or said they thought it would. At the sight of a yet another glassy-eyed believer, I punched the power button and grabbed the keys for a long-overdue trip to Sam's Club.

I can only half "thank" Newt Gingrich for his presidential run. Yes, his losing personality and weighty resume as former House speaker made a sure formula for getting lots of media attention. That his prospects were sub-zero and motives for campaigning questionable didn't seem to matter. As for me, I felt just fine not being present for the chit-chat about how Newt feels about the issues, his checkered history with women or whether wife Callista helps or hurts. I needed several hours to transplant the tomatoes, and Newt's hogging of the news agenda provided them.

My only beef is that he self-destructed so early. Sure, the meltdown was inevitable, but couldn't he have held off on that campaign-killing remark about his party's Medicare plan? What about the eggplant?

Despair over finding another presidential quest of no significance quickly lifted with the revving of Sarah Palin's publicity machine. Like Trump and Gingrich, she too has stuff to sell, and frankly, her price has fallen as her real contact with government fades in the rearview. What better way to boost her brand than a populist bus tour and more resentful talk about the "mainstream media" on mainstream media?

The hours that Palin fills with emptiness open my calendar for shopping trips with friends and perhaps lunch, as well. She who promises freedom delivers in ways she couldn't imagine. Well, the grill needs cleaning, and a concert would be good for the soul. Thank heavens for the time. Important things are still happening out there, but, hey, how would we know?

COPYRIGHT 2011 THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL CO.

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