Every afternoon in CNN's "Situation Room," anchored by milquetoast non-talent Wolf Blitzer, Blitzer shares a few short exchanges with self-styled curmudgeon, Jack Cafferty.
Cafferty's 90-second segments, whored to viewers as "The Cafferty File," broadcast the purposely craggy Cafferty from CNN in New York to Blitzer's Situation Room in Washington, DC. Cafferty, disguised as a wisecracking '50s-'60s style newsman, plays the vexed moralistic foil to Blitzer's dispassionate bore.
It's Cafferty's loose cannon "Lucy" meets Blitzer's timid "Ethel Mertz." Those silly girls are at it yet again!
Astoundingly, there are plenty of impressionable viewers who actually buy Blitzer as a journalist and Cafferty's comments as profound. Neither case is true.
But what can one expect? With the current crop of on-air newspeople at a quality low, and the bar for meritorious journalism buried far below ground, Situation Room viewers perceive Cafferty's commentaries as worthwhile. They are often too young to remember the substantive journalists of old - like Murrow and Huntley - who Cafferty attempts to evoke. But Cafferty's commentaries fall short of insightful. They're shallow. They pander to popular sentiment. They're not instructional, innovative or enlightening.
Unlike Keith Olberman's "Special Comments," packed-full of magical metaphors, dazzling syntax, brilliant analogies, historical references and more, Cafferty's commentaries are unremarkable odes to the obvious. They're not guided by history, facts, or infused by revelation. They're the pedestrian rants of a minor player who can parrot pre-conceived lore.
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To be fair, Cafferty's diatribes often correctly criticize the ills of the Bush administration. But honestly, what THINKING inhabitant of this planet can't correctly criticize the ills of the Bush administration? The only reason Cafferty enjoys even a modicum of popularity is that he echoes the anger of his viewers. He's not a cynic. He's a mimic.
One would think, given Cafferty's simple task of bemoaning the obvious, that he'd use his 90-second spots to make logical statements and draw logical conclusions. But he fails at even that.
Yesterday was a prime example of Cafferty mischaracterizing a critically important issue when he criticized Presidential candidate John Edwards' pursuit of electoral equality.
In a moronic, poorly constructed argument, Cafferty attacked John Edwards for his decision to PUBLICLY FUND his Presidential campaign. Then to cement his flawed logic, Cafferty attacked the dangers of big money in PRIVATELY FUNDED campaigns.
If you're as confused as I am by this Cafferty double-speak, here's the direct transcript of Cafferty's diatribe, accompanied by the youtube video.
See if you can figure out why Cafferty attacks Edwards for NOT misusing the system that Cafferty slams for misuse.
"The Cafferty Fool" - (errr "File") - September 28, 2007:
"So, here we go. This is called a flip flop. Democratic hopeful John Edwards has now changed his tune on campaign financing and decided that he'll accept public money for his campaign. You'll recall earlier this year Edwards said he would not do this because his fellow contenders would likely raise large amounts of private money and he would have to do the same in order to stay competitive. Now he has flip-flopped on that.
Edwards says he changed his mind because of the influence special interests have in political races. Baloney. He's challenging both Clinton and Obama to do the same and they won't, and here's why. They have raised more than double the amount of money that Edwards has raised in the first six months of this year and wouldn't you know Edwards is trailing both Obama and Clinton in the polls. It is probably not a coincidence that the two candidates that have raised by far the most money are by far the frontrunners in almost all of the polls - that's Obama and Clinton.
[To viewers] So the question we're asking this hour is what's wrong with our campaign finance laws? The answer is quite a lot, but I'm interested in some of the specific ideas you have to fix it...
[To Blitzer] You know these campaigns are becoming more expensive every time we have one, Wolf, and until something is done, nothing is going to change this and it just means that the influence of the big money crowd continues to grow in Washington, DC and the influence of folks like you and me - well that's bupkis."
Someone please tell me - if Cafferty decries the influence of "the big money crowd" in private campaign financing, why does he call John Edwards' decision to publicly finance a flip-flop? Instead, why doesn't Cafferty take on Clinton and Obama for not using public financing, but instead using their private donations to try to buy the election?
Yes, it's true that Clinton and Obama have raised double the money of Edwards. It's also true that Edwards has every right to use the legal methods available to him to remain a viable candidate. Why does Cafferty assail Edwards for trying to level the playing field and removing the "For Sale" sign from the White House?
And why must Cafferty resort to Rovian pejoratives like flip-flop? In his miniscule 4 to 5 minutes on camera, isn't Cafferty capable of at least one original axiom per day?
Over the past several months there has been a movement afoot by some duped Cafferty viewers to get Mr. Cafferty his own show. This would be difficult if logic, reason and originality were anchor prerequisites. But with journalistic standards at an all time low, thanks to Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson to name just a few, I suppose it's not that outlandish for Mr. Cafferty to have his own show. Fact is, he'd have lots of abusive material to use. There are countless Republican attack slurs on hand at CNN to berate honorable people for doing honorable things .
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