Does anybody actually watch the news anymore? Do we have to? Does anyone actually have to turn on the TV at 6:00 in the evening to find out what's going on in the world? Don't you already know? Hasn't your New York Times update sent you the morning's headlines? Hasn't it sent you any crucial updates and breaking news items of which one should be aware? Don't you have a radio? E-mail? Twitter? Facebook? That shooting in wherever - aren't you already talking about it at the office, assuming you have an office. Didn't you already comment on social media about whatever stupid thing that politician in the other party said yesterday?
There's absolutely nothing new - no news - that Brian Williams or Rachel Maddow or even Gwen Ifill can tell me about that I haven't already heard, unless somebody blows up an ocean liner or, even better, has to poop over the side of one, during said newscast. In which case, I'm probably already getting an e-mail from the New York Times about it.
No. We don't watch the news for news. We watch it for the conversation about the news. The punditry, if you will. And once we realize that, there's not much left to do except to decide on your pundit of choice.
My pundit of choice - although I don't know that he calls himself a pundit, he just occasionally plays one on TV - is Chris Hayes. And I'm worried about his recent promotion. For entirely self-serving reasons.
I think that the reason we watch TV news at all has nothing to do with getting the news. It has everything to do with getting a conversation about the news. What's Big Ed's take? What's Fareed's take? What, godelpus, is Bill O'Reilly's take? And no, I don't believe we tune in for them to tell us what to think. I believe we tune in to get a thoughtful, nuanced perspective on what we already think. Better talking points. Maybe a reality check. And maybe we tune in to someone we trust to ask the questions we ourselves want to ask.
That's why I like Hayes. Not only does he include various perspectives from the other side of the aisle, he lays out his own admittedly liberal position and challenges them to tell him why he's all wrong. And more often than not, while I'm sitting on the couch muttering "what about this?" and "what about that?", Hayes will ask them, what about this? What about that? So I get the conversation that I would want to have if I had those people in the room with me.
I'm going to miss UP with Chris Hayes. I'll give the new guy a chance, but will he channel me as well as Hayes has done? Will he bring on the guests that will challenge us both? I don't know. Will Hayes' new night-time show bring a similar format? Will we have the same stimulating conversations about the news? I'll certainly check it out.
But for a few short months, I've been happy and proud to be an UPper. UP with Chris Hayes, that is.