Gone are the days of competent election coverage

What a difference 20 years make.

At the turn of this century and for decades earlier, a column appearing on the eve of an intensely fought and all-important political primary would lead with a story about where reporters from each local news station would be deployed on the evening of the elections and the extent of global live coverage. would.

Regular programming would be canceled so that channels 3, 6, 10 and 29 could wall-to-wall announce the results of the vote as they come in, quiz candidates on impending victory or defeat, and conduct interviews with voters or members of key voting blocs to give a sense of public opinion.

Those days are over. Election results will most likely be provided by a crawl at the bottom of the screen or by anchor breaks in the middle of advertisements or instead of bumpers (short chunks that separate a segment of a program or two programs l each other).

That is, if incoming results are tracked. Today’s stations can wait until their 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. newscasts to provide a general overview of what’s going on in the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate where three candidates, Kathy Barnette , Dave McCormick and Mehmet Oz run neck and neck. The GOP governor’s primary offers equal suspense and tension.

Democrats may also have news. At a dinner party tonight, before I wrote this column, the Dems were arguing over the merits of Senate hopefuls John Fetterman and Conor Lamb, and one person berated another for sending in a ballot for Lamb based on what she (and I) considered defective information.

I miss the scrum once made more exciting by TV coverage. Previously, my day today would have been spent on the phone with representatives from the various stations to ensure that all of their coverage arrangements were accurate and to negotiate whether I could speak to a reporter in the field if he or she revealed a juicy story. .

The irony of being nostalgic for this level of action is that 20 years ago I lamented that politics was covered so little and without interest on television. I remember writing columns saying that TV reporters found the subject dry and had no technique to dig into it in the detail they should.

In 2022, I denounce the opposite circumstance, that politics is too widely and poorly covered.

In an effort to make politics exciting, news outlets, mostly cable and streaming TV channels rather than traditional stations, are meddling around the clock, but not in a solid or useful journalistic way.

The constant political barrage has become the occasion for shouting among partisan commentators who care not for truth, accuracy, fairness, balance or justice in their statements so long as they persuade the viewers to believe and lean a certain way.

Anchors are worse because they feed or fuel commentators, bending even more blatantly than their guests to ensure their audience of now-trained supporters receives information that reinforces their network’s view, conservatism mad on Fox News Channel or mad progressivism on MSNBC or CNN.

If anything worthwhile is sprung on Fox, MSNBC or CNN, it usually comes from a reporter who has enough “old school” in him (or them?) to impersonate “Dragnet’s” Joe Friday and deliver the facts, ma’am. , just the facts.

So I miss the full election night coverage of the past while grateful that I’m not subject to commentators analyzing the results, probably in a partisan tone, but I can just check the feedback on the Real Clear Politics website or by glancing every quarter of an hour at my phone.

Speaking of my phone, one thing I won’t miss after tomorrow night is the flurry of text messages I get, especially now that Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick are working so hard to take down their rising rival, Kathy Barnette.

Naturally, I take everything I get from any candidate with cynicism and a shrug. Articles I have seen from a Lancaster reporter, Matt Barcaro of WGAL, show the danger of taking candidate ads at face value. Barcaro has done a good job verifying these advertisements and reporting his findings without being partisan.

Credit to Kathy Barnette for responding quickly to her rivals when they send out videos of her saying potentially objectionable things. I got mad at Barnette because of a post from the Oz campaign that depicted her disparaging one of my personal heroes, George Washington.

The Torpedo Boats of Oz gave the impression that Barnette was insulting the first president and denying his role in the formation of the United States. The 15-second byte they distributed via text had her giggling as she stood at Washington’s home, Mt. Vernon, and talked about other visitors referring to our country’s father as “a dead-on hero”.

Barnette retaliated wisely. She posted a YouTube showing the full video in which the seemingly sneering statements appeared. Looking at her entire presentation, it’s clear that she’s not belittling Washington, but making a smart case for looking at history from a balanced perspective that takes into account both Washington’s accomplishments and her status as owner of slaves for life.

(Full disclosure: I don’t have a dog in this hunt. I will be voting in the Republican primary – I only vote in person – but it is not my intention to favor or endorse any candidate over another one here.)

If I can get on WGAL, Barcaro is the one I want to watch tomorrow night.

Jodi Long Stories

Jodi Long comes from a family of vaudevillians who appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other variety shows of that era.
Long herself made her first Broadway appearance at age 7 opposite Tom Bosley, Martin Balsam and Dorothy Loudon, in a flop, Nowhere to Go But Up, which was tried out in Philadelphia.

Stories abound about Jodi’s long career and that of her parents, Larry and Trudie Leung.

“About 20 years ago I started a journal where I started writing all the stories down so they wouldn’t get lost,” Long said by phone from his New York home.

“As I put these stories together, I saw how they would work in a play,” Long continued.

This play was supposed to open at the Bucks County Playhouse the year COVID closed theaters. Under a new title, “American Jade,” Long’s play debuts at the New Hope Theater on Friday for a three-week run.

“The series has evolved a lot since I started working on it. It even has a new title from when it was supposed to open in New Hope. Then I called it “Surfing my DNA”.

“’American Jade’ covers a lot of ground. I deal with the emotional imprint of my parents, the imprint of society and the imprint of show business. In addition to playing since I was a kid, I grew up backstage at the clubs where my parents played on what was then called “The Chop Suey Circuit”.

Long also talks about her own long career, which includes a Broadway tour in “Flower Drum Song,” a major television role as Steve Byrne’s mother on the series “Sullivan & Son,” and her Emmy-winning performance. Awards in the series “Dash and Lis.”

“That show only lasted one season,” Long says. “I almost forgot when I was informed of my Emmy nomination. I was shocked when I won. I was told that I was the first Asian American to receive an Emmy for his acting role.

“I checked because I swore and I was right that Archie Panjabi got an Emmy for ‘The Good Wife’. The Emmy officials said, ‘Yeah, but she’s British, and d ‘other Asian winners come from Asia’. You are the first American of Asian origin. Why argue any longer?

Another appearance in Philadelphia was in Philip Glass’s “1000 Planes on the Roof” in a part originally written for a man.

“I auditioned and impressed enough to get the role. It was amazing because I traveled all over the world with it and got to visit family in Australia where my dad grew up. , and in China.

“I was in Hong Kong for another job, a Mike Newell movie, when a woman asked me if I wanted to go to the mainland, China, which I considered forbidden. She spoke both Mandarin and Cantonese, so I was able to experience an adventure that not many tourists can. With our looks and my friend’s ability to communicate in Chinese, we were able to get away from people watching all foreigners and go places and see areas closed to most visitors.

“The most important part of our wandering on our own is that for the first time in my life, I had a clear idea of ​​what China is and being Chinese. It helped a lot to understand.

As Long speaks, you hear the content of a play in his experiences, including working with Margaret Cho and being part of an Asian cast of a dramatized novel, the film version of which starred Ingrid Bergman.

Booker does double duty

Bobbi Booker of WRTI (90.1 FM) wins the Iron Lady award for her service to her station and her listeners this week.
Tuning in at around 10 p.m. two nights in a row, I heard Booker fill in for Ms. Blue in the jazz half of the WRTI split day between jazz and classical music.

Then my alarm clock goes off at 4:15 a.m., and there’s Booker, in his own sultry style, doing his usual night shift from midnight to 6 a.m.

Wait a minute. That means Bobbi Booker was on the air for nine consecutive hours two nights in a row.

Talk about endurance! And dedication! Being the host of a radio show, especially one that features long stretches of music, might sound easy, but I did it, and I can assure you it wasn’t. A lot of preparation and thought goes into each show’s pacing, intros, and commentary, if only to make it seem like it’s all thrown spontaneously off the top of the host’s head.

At least we hope. From knowing and listening to Bobbi Booker, a woman of multiple interests and talents, I bet she puts in that level of work.

There must be a reward and hopefully a waiting pillow at the end of this rainbow.

A question for you, Bobbi. What about your apparent obsession with Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ jazz favorite “Never Let Me Go?”

I swear Bobbi plays a different rendition of this popular song at least once on every show she does.

And not just the famous covers of Nat “King” Cole and Shirley Horn! Booker will play a vocal cut a show and an instrumental version, including a particularly good one from tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana last week, the following.

My question is not a complaint, just a cause of curiosity.

Levitt at the Morris Theater

Andrew Levitt, who is coming to the Morris Theater in Philadelphia tomorrow in the lead role of Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray,” has drag experience far beyond this musical.

Levitt, using her drag name, Nina West, was a contestant on season 11 of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race”. She finished the pageant in sixth place and won the season’s trophy as Miss Congeniality.

Neal Zoren’s TV column appears every Monday.


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