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Sheepish in Sarasota

Last week I wrote a column about Katie Couric. The week before that I wrote a column about Sarasota voters and the September 5th elections.

I wrote about the hope I held for the possibility that Couric would choose to transcend mediocrity. I wrote about the hope I had that Sarasotans would rise above what is being said about them, and prove themselves to be better, smarter, more responsible, than all the comics and bloggers are saying.

Message to self: wake the hell up.

Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve taken my news at the trough of American network television. I tend to read the papers, old-fashioned gal that I am. But even if I’m out of the loop and network news has denigrated to levels beyond my awareness, I was flabbergasted by what I saw and heard during Couric’s debut at the news desk.

Couric, what were you thinking?

Your debut on CBS introduced new lows in what constitutes news programming in this country.

A segment called “Free Speech” providing us with videotaped opinions from would-be opinion-makers? It’s supposed to be the news, Katie, not

The music of Peter Gabriel as story segue? “Snapshots” of Cruise, Holmes and little baby Suri? It’s supposed to be the news, Katie, not Entertainment Tonight.

And worst of all, asking the viewing public to give you ideas on how to end your broadcast? It’s supposed to be the news, Katie, not American Idol.

I was embarrassed for Couric. She blew it. Big time.

While watching this journalistic debacle, I made some notes. “Couric’s undermined and undersold not just herself but the American people as well,” I scribbled.

“We’re not as dumb as all that, Katie,” I scrawled.

The next day — the day after Election Day in Sarasota, as I write this column, I’m not so sure.

Maybe Couric’s comedy does qualify as news for the majority of Sarasotans.

Maybe that’s the reason there was such an abysmal turnout at the polls last week — all those smart, sophisticated, non-voting Sarasotans must have been hunkered down in front of their big screens lapping up Couric’s drivel.

I can abide a lot of things, but laziness – intellectual or otherwise – is not one of them.

How lazy do you have to be to pass off celebrity photos as news? How lazy do you have to be to not go to the polls and cast a vote or two?

I’m disappointed in Couric, but, after all, she’s just one woman. Here in Sarasota, thousands and thousands of you stood down.

Meanwhile, our country’s sons and daughters are standing up every day in Iraq. They’re risking life and limb for the democratic process so many of you chose to eschew.

Take a bow, Sarasota. You couldn’t get off your couches long enough to even symbolically salute the very tenets of democracy those American soldiers are dying for.

Yeah, you really know how to “support the troops.”

Don’t tell me it’s because it was only a midterm. Don’t tell me it was the day after a long weekend. Don’t tell me anything.

Everything I or anybody else needs to know is what the polls told us.

Sarasota doesn’t vote. Less than 25 percent of registered voters bothered to show up at the polls.

Sarasota’s looking a lot like an electorate of sheep — fluffy, mostly white, benign little cud-chewers — mindlessly derailing democracy.

“A nation of sheep,” Edward R. Murrow predicted, “”will beget a government of wolves.”

Let the bleating begin.

Posted on September 6th, 2006Comments RSS Feed

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