When tacky replaces substance

Do a Google search on "Americans killed in Iraq" and you come up with just over three million results.

Do one for "American Idol" and you get 28.5 million.

Or try Britney Spears and you get 32.9 million.

On the day following an "American Idol" telecast, every major news service carries stories about who got voted off and what the American public thinks about it. Cable news shows cover it breathlessly. Even Keith Olbermann devotes segments of his MNSBC "Countdown" show to "American Idol" updates and the latest shenanigans of Britney, Paris, K-Fed and other questionable icons of pop culture.

When you wonder what might or might not be wrong with this nation, consider this: A single episode of "American Idol" draws more viewers than all the news shows on all the broadcast, cable and satellite channels combined.

While some of us might care about the 3,200 plus Americans who have died in Iraq, the sad truth is that many, many more want to know if Britney is back in rehab or has shaved her public hair so she can flash a bare vagina to photographers at some LA nightclub.

No wonder the candidates forgo the traditional news shows and seek guest shots on entertainment venues to announce their plans to run for President. A Presidential wannabe has a far better shot at being seen by more viewers if he or she is sandwiched in between two vapid starlets showing lots of leg and breasts on Letterman or Leno.

Americans, it appears, prefer glitzy tackiness to substance. Why worry about the state of affairs in Washington when there are the tawdry affairs of celebrities?  Why discuss the immorality of the Iraq war when we have the much more fascinating immorality of over-the-hill pop divas with shaved heads and…well…er…other places?

On a typical evening, a television channel will devote 30 minutes to national news, 60 minutes to syndicated shows about entertainment and celebrities and two hours to so-called "reality" shows like "American Idol" or "Survivor" or "Dancing with the Stars."

A couple of nights ago, NBC’s Nightly News gave three-and-a-half minutes to the death of six American soldiers in Iraq. My local NBC affiliate followed the news with two syndicated entertainment shows that devoted a total of 17 minutes to American Idol and 14 minutes to Britney Spears.

Nielsen ratings say the entertainment shows draws five times more viewers than the nightly news.

Maybe this means I should just forget about war and politics and Bush and Pelosi and start running stories about Britney with photos of shaved nether regions.

After all, the name of this site is Capitol Hill Blue. Forget Capitol Hill. Let’s just concentrate on Blue.

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