For the second quarter in a row, progressive cable news channel MSNBC has been hit with the unpleasant news that it's ratings have fallen and it now trails behind FOX and CNN in all the important demographics.
At first this drop in popularity was explained away by the fact that we're not in an election year and liberal partisans aren't as interested in following the news once the contest has been settled. Other critics have said the problem is that MSNBC has become too tame and too cerebral by adding shows like "All In" with Chris Hayes to its prime time line-up and moving its firebrand hosts like Ed Schultz to Saturday obscurity.
I'm sure those reasons, and probably some others I can't think of have contributed to MSNBC's precipitous decline, but they are not why I've stopped watching the cable news channel on a regular basis. The fact is that as a liberal Democrat, I can't keep walking around in a constant state of impotent rage, it's literally killing me. Watching MSNBC every night only reinforces the fact that the Republican led House, Republican led state governments and the Republican-centric Supreme Court are sending this country to hell in a handbasket and there doesn't seem to be a bleepin' thing any of us, particularly elected Democrats, can do to stop it.
As much as I admire Rachel Maddow, and next to Jon Stewart, I think she's the best thing on television, I can no longer bear to hear her excellent and thorough analysis each night of how the "red" states are dismantling women's rights, shredding civil rights, denying voting rights and imposing their own brand of Sharia law in legislatures that have more in common with banana republics than the constitutional democracies they are supposed to represent. It turns out that ignorance is bliss, or at least it's not the gut-wrenching, stress-filled sense of hopelessness and dispair you get from having your attention riveted nightly on inequities that you are powerless to fix.
I mean really, how many protest marches do we join, petitions do we sign, or phone calls do we make before we accept the fact that our actions have less of an impact on the laws being passed to govern our lives than a gnat landing on the back of an elephant. It turns out that watching the destruction of our democracy with charts and graphs and color commentary on television every night is a soul killing experience and it's better for my health if I avoid it.
This, of course is what separates us from right-wing conservatives. Unlike us wussy progressives, they thrive on their anger, losing an argument only fuels their hatred and whets their appetite. FOX News stays at number one in the ratings whether their candidates lose an election, or a court decision goes against them, or their majority in the house fails to derail Obamacare. In fact, watching their set-backs and disappointments paraded on TV and explained as unjust results of a liberal conspiracy only makes them grow stronger and more irrational in their sense of purpose.
Not so for me. I simply can't continue to spend my days and evenings consumed with ineffectual fury. Tuning into a nightly, technicolor recap of the decimation of social and civil rights issues that were already argued and settled a half a century ago isn't illuminating my perspective, it's breaking my heart.