Opinion » Bill Cope

Media Mutters

Cope addresses a G.A.G.ging question


Dear Mr. Cope,

We—and by we, I mean the entirety of broadcast media here in the United States of America—have a problem. Actually, it's more of a mess than a problem. You could even say it's a quagmire, in that nobody has any answers as to how to de-messify it. However you look at it, it is a dilemma, which is why we here at the G.A.G. Media Group are contacting you for advice. We've tried everyone else, so we figured it couldn't hurt.

You are probably already aware of the problem, Mr. Cope, as it is our understanding you watch a great deal of television. But to be certain you and I are tuned to the same channel, allow me to review the events that have brought us to this quagmiry dilemma. In 2004, it was discovered that Dan Rather, who had been anchoring CBS News since sometime before iPods were invented, was found to have not entirely verified his factual matter before he accused the current president of being a military service skipper-outer—what would normally be referred to as a "deserter" were it anyone but the current president. This eventually led to Mr. Rather's ouster from CBS, leaving that network in the quandary of having to find a replacement. Someone—possibly even Katie Couric—thought that Katie Couric would be a good anchorman, judging by her appeal on NBC's Today show. Of course, when Ms. Couric left Today, Today was left with an empty spot next to Matt Lauer, which they filled with Meredith Vieira.

Previously, Ms. Vieira had been a fixture on ABC's morning talk show, The View, on which a group of women are arranged around what appears to be a dining room table from Oak Express in a way that encourages viewers at home to feel they are part of a stimulating conversation over coffee at a neighbor's house—this particular neighbor happening to be Barbara Walters. Ms. Walters filled the Vieira chair with Rosie O'Donnell, who lasted only a year. The Vieira/O'Donnell chair has most recently been given to Whoopi Goldberg, who we anticipate will bring to The View the same pithy wisdom she dispensed some years ago to the crew of the Starship Enterprise as Guinan, the mysterious, centuries-old bartender in that vessel's 10-Forward saloon.

That brings us up-to-date, pretty much, having skipped over the role Star Jones played in all this, but only because we're not sure what role Star Jones played in all this.

The problem is, as well as it all should have worked out, it didn't. Rosie O'Donnell in particular proved to be far too controversial for her britches. After getting into public quarrels with Donald Trump, Bill O'Reilly and some perky blonde woman who is also a regular on The View, Ms. O'Donnell left the show, somewhat in a huff, to pursue other interests—interests which appear primarily to be getting even with Barbara Walters. Nor is Meredith Vieira as happy as she pretends to be. She is reported to be thinking about quitting the Today show and spending more time with her Who Wants To Be A Millionaire family. And poor Katie Couric. She has gone from being the most-watched woman on television (in the pre-Oprah time slot) to having ratings somewhere in the Dick Cheney range. It can only be a matter of time before the executives at CBS go hunting for a new anchorperson, and where do you go after Katy Couric?

Most recently, Dan Rather has announced a lawsuit against his old bosses at CBS in which he is asking $70 million for being dumped—as Dan Rather might put it—like a dog turd at an Easter egg hunt.

We here at G.A.G. are convinced that such turmoil and instability in the greater media picture has a ripple effect that upsets even the smaller boats—we here at G.A.G. being a huge example of a smaller boat. It is devastating to morale when our younger associates, who dream of growing up to be like Katie Couric, learn that Katie Couric doesn't even want to be like Katie Couric anymore. Even our more seasoned veterans are thinking of leaving the airwaves and taking their chances in the blogging market. Mr. Cope, might you have any suggestions as to how to calm these troubled broadcast waters?

Yours truly, Rick Dorge Bertvallantz—H.R. Director/The G.A.G. Media Group

Dear Rick,

I believe I can help, Rick, but you have to keep an open mind. Your mistake is in thinking this tragic trail of cause and effect started with Dan Rather's ignoble departure from CBS. It didn't. In fact, the epidemic of dissatisfaction that ravages the nation's on-air personalities was not born in the news divisions of your various networks. No, Rick, it came from elsewhere. It came ... from outer space!!!

You unknowingly alluded to the real source of the misery by mentioning the beloved Star Trek: TNG. Do you realize, Rick, that in February of 2005, one measly month before Dan Rather vacated the anchor chair at CBS, Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled ... and that should tell you everything you need to know. A continuous chain reaching back to Picard in 1987 (then Sisko, then Janeway, then Archer) was broken and with it, the hearts of millions of Americans who relied on the various Star Trek incarnations for a clear and hopeful vision of humanity's future.

Are we mind melding yet, Rick? See, the Obsidian Order of Broadcasting shot themselves in the foot with a karmic disrupter by depriving us of our Star Trek. The Nightly News, Today, The View ... by their nature, those shows can only speak to the mundane, the sordid and ordinary. We get enough of that just by getting out of bed everyday. I tell you, nothing will seem quite right again—and this applies as much to Katie and Rosie and Dan as it does to you and me, Rick—until, once again, we can go where no man has gone before. (And endless re-runs of the old Star Treks won't suffice. Re-runs, by definition, are precisely where man has gone before.)

But for short-term relief—until broadcast media come up with a new Star Trek series with which to put everything back on warp footing—I have a stop-the-bleeding-type suggestion: take Whoopi off The View, make her the CBS anchor, and have her deliver the news as Guinan ... big stretchy hat and all. I'm not kidding. It'll do the world a world of good.