problems in television news that are directlynrelated to the medium. But therenare also distortions that result from thentraining and background of televisionnjournalists. Their training at many universitiesnand as apprentices at newspapersnand television stations is an exercise innmimicking media heroes. If Mike Wallacenis contentious, young journalists believenthat is the appropriate style for an interviewer.nHow else can one explain thenperverse distemper of Geraldo Rivera?nHis level of despair for social injury showsnlitde distinction between an assassinationnattempt on the Pope and the declinenof his favorite rock star’s career. Almostnevery journalism student thinks of himselfnas a budding Woodward or Bernsteinnsearching for his Deep Throat. Medianstardom is what he aspires to, not thenthankless and plodding job of unearthingnthe difficult facts that give a story its texture.nTelevision news is in a constellationnof shooting stars—^as soon as you see it,nthe star is gone, a fleeting memory thatnneither lingers nor provides illumination.nIn the United Kingdom the BBC hasnintroduced the sensible policy of callingnanchormen “readers.” Why should Americannbroadcast readers of the AssociatednPress printout be caUed anything else?nBy attributing undeserved status to then”news” people, deplorable distortionsnare promoted. Perhaps this explains whynmany viewers have lost perspective onncontemporary events and why relativelyntrivial matters can be exaggerated intonearth-shattering calamities. For instance,ntelevision newscasters sometimes equatenJoseph McCarthy with Hitier. That annoverzealous politician who employednquestionable tactics can be compared tonHitler is not simply a distortion; it is a lienof such magnitude as to rewrite history.nSimilar exa^erations abounded with regardnto Watergate. That debacle is nonlonger considered a stupid violation ofnpolitical iair play or Presidential tamperingnwith the political process; it is nownseen as the Soviet Purge or Cromwell’snRump Parliament. If the populace werensophisticated about history, the absurditynof these claims would immediately benS8inChronicles of Culturenapparent. But that isn’t the case. As a result,nhistory is homogenized so that onenevil is like another, distinctions lose focus,nand even those things one should wishnto preserve and defend lose meaning.nTelevision news doesn’t simply corrupt,nit debases.nOut exa^erating events is only onenpart of the television news calculus.nAnother significant dimension is its contaminationnof news. Last month’s eventsnare a vague memory; what happenednlast year is forgotten. A visual montagenof blood and gore desensitizes us, leavingnin its wake the erasure of history. Ifnhistory courses were once criticized forntheir emphasis on names, dates, andnplaces, they can now be criticized fornleaving us with little but “feelings”: studentsnnow “know” that Kennedy carednand Nixon didn’t. It may not be the intentnof news programming, but it hasnpromoted historical amnesia. “Docudramas”—thenhalfway houses betweennthe news and theater—^admittedly takenliberties with the facts. Such manipulationnof the news itself is no longer considerednthe violation of a sacred trust,neven when it is recognized. It simply appearsnas another kind of docudrama. Innthe final analysis—^notwithstanding allnthe pompous claims—television news isnmore often than not an extension of entertainmentnprogramming. It is there fornratings; it titillates and excites. The weathermannis not a reporter; he entertains.nThe anchor isn’t an interpreter or reader;nhe’s a dreamboat. The interview isn’t forngathering information; it is designed tonintimidate a foe. Even the sports reporterndoesn’t simply give us scores; he is expectednto be a comedian and clown.nMr. Lesher has performed a valuablenservice in demonstrating where televisionnnews has gone wrong. But he is tooncharitable. Ultimately he contends thatnjournalistic presentations aren’t slantednbecause of ideology. They are based, henmaintains, on misinformation. He is unconvincing.nThe impact of the DonnHewitts cannot be so lightly cast aside.nMisinformation exists some of the time,nbut not all, or even nearly all, of the time.nProducers like Hewitt aren’t simplyncareless—^they have an ax to grind. It isnknowing what that ax is and how toncombat it that might be useful to newsviewers.nBut since most viewers aren’tnaware of the producer’s intent, newsnprograms can be watched only with ansense of risk. DnEffects of a Limited ImaginationnJean Lacouture: Leon Blum; Holmesn& Meier; New York.nby Richard A. CoopernBefore every human being lies thenburden and opportunity of choice. Wenmust make choices and bear their consequences.nSociety is a vast web of interpersonalnrelations wherein individualsnare affected by the choices of others andnvice versa. The choices certain individualsnmake, the ideas which enter intonthose choices, and their results consti-nMr. Cooper is an export manager innNew York.nnntute the subject matter of history. LeonnBlum, French premier in the late 1930’s,nwielded power that affected the lives ofnmillions of people in the tumultuousnfirst half of the 20th century. From JeannLacouture’s account, Blum emerges as anman whose critical choice was to championnwhat he construed as justice andnthe republican ideal. The means to hisnend: socialism.nOriginally a man of letters, Blum facednthe necessity of making a steady living.nHis choice is revealing. The young socialist,nof impeccably bourgeois origins,nmade an impeccably bourgeois choice.n”In January 1896, he thus became auditeurnsecond class in the Conseil d’Etat, an