PBS on the Front Line of the Same Story Over and Over

Bloggified by Jake on Monday, March 24, 2008

If I have a fault--and I'm not saying I do--it might be that I cannot drop something once it's been resolved. When I win an argument, I will continue to heap evidence proving my point upon those who've already acknowledged my view is the right one.

Jake: Peanut butter is healthy. It has protein and riboflavin.
Agreeable sort of guy: Yeah, you're right. It's tasty too.
Jake: You're probably thinking, "But peanut butter is nothing but fat--
Agreeable sort of guy: Actually I wasn't thinking that at all.
Jake: --but the fat from peanuts is polyunsaturated fat. It will lower your cholesterol, chump! Furthermore...

As much as my friends and family may hate this, I can't help it that I know a lot of stuff about a lot of things and don't enter into disagreements without doing a little research. The fact that you and I are on the same page about lutefisk doesn't negate the fact I just read fifty pages of State Department analysis of Sweden and took the time to summarize it all for you. Now sit there and listen!

Unfortunately, I've come to understand how this can annoy those close to me through my viewership of PBS's "Frontline."

"Frontline" has consistently been one of the greatest sources for investigative journalism for nearly three decades. It once brought us a wide variety of topics, ranging from foster care to Sea World to Nazi gold to sexual abuse by Catholic priests to Shakespeare's true identity. The least interesting topics often made for the most fascinating shows.

However, this week's two part episode is "Bush's War." Next week is "Bad Voodoo's War," the story of a group of National Guardsmen in Iraq who call themselves "Bad Voodoo Platoon." The previous episode was "Rules of Engagement" about the soldiers accused in the Haditha massacre. Last year we got "Showdown with Iran," "Cheney's Law," "Endgame" (about the surge in Iraq), "Gangs of Iraq," "Spying on the Homefront," and a handful of other episodes that all seem to be making the same point.

Even the staunchest Bush supporters acknowledge at this point that the current administration has made a metric ton of errors. The only justification they can offer is that "When Harry Truman left office, people hated him too, but now he's considered one of the greatest presidents ever!" In other words, "We know Bush sucks... now... but in fifty years things might get better and then everyone will think he was a genius... maybe."

So I'm torn with every new episode of "Frontline" that comes on. On one hand, I know it will present some new information that I'd never heard and it will open my mind to new ideas. On the other hand, the same theme remains... the same depressing theme. Imagine if you wore a pink spandex catsuit to your nephew's bar mitzvah. How many times would you want to watch different people show you their videos of the event with their own narration of why it was a poor fashion decision on your part? Every episode of "Frontline" has become just another reporter's explanation of "why we shouldn't have elected Bush," "where congress and the courts fail to check or balance the White House," and "reasons the rest of the world hates us for giving Bush four more years to spit on them and their attempts at diplomatic relations."

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