Moral Low Ground


MSNBC Interrupts NSA Interview with Congresswoman for ‘Breaking News’ of Justin Bieber Arrest

"We interrupt this broadcast for breaking news out of Miami..."

“We interrupt this broadcast for breaking news out of Miami…”

By now, this whole world, and maybe some far-flung galaxies, know how pop sensation Justin Bieber went and got himself arrested after getting wasted and drag racing an arrest-me-yellow Lamborghini down in Miami Beach.

The sordid details of Biebs’ bust– the look of stupor on his face, how he allegedly resisted arrest while dropping profuse F-bombs, how he just couldn’t believe this was all happening to him– are all over the celebrity gossip sites. And not just the tabloids– ‘serious’ news sites like the venerable New York Times and even the Wall Street Journal devoted considerable effort to covering this ‘breaking news’ story.

But if you’re looking for proof of just how confused this nation’s priorities are– and how the corporate mainstream media enables and exacerbates the situation, look no further than MSNBC, purportedly cable TV’s standard-bearer for progressive news and analysis.

On Thursday, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, anchor of the hard news program Andrea Mitchell Reports, was interviewing Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) about NSA surveillance reform. The NSA spying scandal continues to be one of the biggest news stories in the world, one which literally affects millions, if not tens or hundreds of millions of people in nearly every nation on earth.

Rep. Harman was telling Mitchell how the NSA’s massive (and illegal) data collection effort was “not that useful and infringes on personal privacy” when the anchor interrupted her for a “breaking news” alert. Was it the independent Congressional panel releasing its findings that NSA snooping was indeed illegal? The ongoing turmoil in Egypt, Ukraine, Syria or Thailand? Perhaps the ceasefire in South Sudan? No, it was Bieber’s arrest. Really. One can only imagine what went through the congresswoman’s mind when she was cut off for that.

Apparently, US government snooping on our personal, confidential phone and electronic communications isn’t as pressing an issue as the arrest of a Canadian pop star. We shouldn’t rush to pile all the blame on MSNBC for giving the masses what they want. We’re all a little at fault here– even on this, ahem, esteemed site, too often ‘news’ stories about some guy who fucked a horse or some girl who ate her own bloody tampon get all the clicks, thereby encouraging those of us who decide what’s ‘news’ to keep feeding the beast.

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